For the westerner, who use to a certain amount of customer service and a high selection of products, they may be woefully disappointed when shopping in supermarkets here in the Philippines. But I will talk about that another time, for now let’s concentrate on arriving at the checkouts in the Philippines with a basket of goods. Of course you will join the slowest line- that is always the way.
But the Philippines can add a few extra layers of frustration at this point. So be aware, and take a deep breath and sigh. Because no matter what you do, or say nothing happens to make change here.
If there is a person in front of you with a shopping trolley they off load the products onto a non-working conveyor belt. They also look at some of the items they do not want and just dump them on the confectionery stand. Honest! Then there is a great system of reversing queues. Let me explain.
For some bewildering security reasons the checkouts are so close together that a trolley cannot go through the gap, so an empty trolley is pushed backwards into the aisle causing congestion and making everyone in the queue step back and then move forward again. Remember deep breath!
Now the checkout operator has to tap in so many codes and the POA system has not been updated. So every third item has to have its barcode number added manually. Some of the items don’t even go through with the barcode scan and cannot be sold to you. They will be the same products you try to buy week after week, but as they have no barcode they cannot. A few weeks later the buyer for the supermarket will assume none sold- bad product. If only they knew.
Now the lady in front has purchased 15 sachets of shampoo (most things are sold in very small sachets, because most people cannot outlay for large items). The cashier picks up one to scan it and the machine beeps. She then picks up another does the same and so on, and so on. Very rarely will a checkout operator press the multiplication number on the checkout. This drives me mad, but it is totally acceptable to the cashier and the locals.
Now you have had your goods go through the checkout and the packer (when available) packs all the heavy items in one bag. This is always happening. Instead of spreading the load evenly, the packers are TRAINED to put all large and heavy items into one bag. This is also followed by numerous small bags going over certain products, and then into the larger bags. Not sure why, but there it is.
Time to pay. PLEASE do not pay by card. The machines are normally working at snail’s pace and sometimes do not work at all. Even when they do the cashier has to fill in so many pieces of paper that it holds you up and the whole queue. Paper money is still king here.
So assume you pay in cash, the checkout operator will always ask you for change- Always. If you do not have change they become flustered and either loads you up with small change or call a supervisor who frowns as she has to come over to put change in the till BECAUSE of you.
Well now you have two bags and the change. What else can go wrong?
The cashier hands you the receipt. First of all she tells you how many bags you have and scribble that number on the receipt. I have no idea why as I can count the number of bags myself. Secondly, she scribbles her initials on the receipt; again I do not know why as the receipt has the time and till number on it. I have asked many cashiers the point of it, and none know.
Well that is the hassle over. Nope, as in some supermarkets on your way out you MUST produce this receipt again. The security officer looks at the receipt and with amazing x-ray eyes looks into your bags and knows every item inside and then stamps the receipt with a stamp and signs it. I have asked the security officer why this happens and they told me it is to confirm it is my shopping. I asked how would you know? Their eyes glazed over and they just carried on with the next person in line.