Thursday, April 7, 2011

EZ Shopper: Coming to a Stop & Shop Near You; If You Liked Registering For Your Wedding Gifts,You'll Love This Program!

This is where you get started.
Yesterday, as I was finishing up my babysitting duties, my son-in-law arrived home with some bags from the supermarket. Instead of the plastic bags typical of any food store, he was using the recycle bags that we all have but rarely use when we grocery shop. I was impressed. I speak for myself of course, but I hardly ever see anyone else using them in any of the supermarkets that I frequent.

He explained to me that Stop & Shop now has scanning program called EZ Shopper which encourages shoppers to use recycled bags. I decided to give it a try today and detail my experiences. This is how it works:

When you enter the store you'll see a kiosk at the right or left of the entrance. You must have a Stop & Shop customer card which you are prompted to scan. On the kiosk are about 20-25 hand-held scanners very similar to the ones used in department stores for a bridal registry. The supermarket does provide plastic bags at the kiosk but here is an opportunity to use those 'green' bags if you have a collection of them as I do. As you proceed through the aisles, simply scan the item's bar code. The product name and price appears on the screen and nicely tallies up your order as you go along. All of the sale items are credited and your order is being bagged (by you) as you shop, a real time saver!

My self-packed bags
When you are finished and arrive at the checkout counter, the hand-held device needs to scan a 'end of order' bar code at your register' then the scanner can be returned to the kiosk. Simply by rescanning your Stop & Shop card, your order is immediately registered and all you have to do is pay. Your bags are ready and out you go! Sound easy? Well, I suppose it was, but I did run into a few problems.
The hand-held device.

1. Staten Island has two Stop & Shop locations. I chose the store closer to my home and found out that the Store further away was the one using the EZ Shopper. IMPORTANT: Check online first before you shop if you want to try this method. I lost about 20 minutes driving from one store to the other. This is still being test marketed and will only appear in select stores.

2. I didn't buy any fruits or vegetables that needed to be weighed. Not sure how this works and if it becomes problematic at the checkout.

I missed step 1 here. Truthfully, 
that bar code looked fake!!
3. I saw the sign at the checkout explaining how to complete the process but missed the 'end of order' bar code. I returned the scanner to the kiosk thinking that scanning my Stop $ Shop card would suffice. The manager needed to be called to unlock my scanner so I could check out. I was glad to speak with the manager though because I had a question: If I wanted to 'sneak' out with an unscanned item, would the store know? Or if I accidentally forgot to scan an item, would alarms go off as I exited the store? I was told that the system relies on the 'honor system' in most ways. From time to time, the manager or checkout assistant might flag a shopper to do a test on six to seven items to see if any are unscanned. He was unclear about what the punishment would be (other than paying up) or how a person might be chosen for a test scan. Ummmm, good luck with that.

But even with these points that I raised, I would do it again. I liked doing something environmentally friendly and I like saving time bagging my own food. Now that I know the 'ropes', the checkout should be even faster. I'm also not sure if this has or will spread to other supermarkets but I would venture to guess that EZ scanners in some form or other are just a 'harbinger of things to come'!

NOTE: One of the bags we have in our house was manufactured by a company called 'its- las-tik', one sample bag shown at left. In these days of almost everything being made in China, these bags are exclusively manufactured in America.  Not only that, but the bags are produced in New Orleans employing people affected by Hurricane Katrina. I've attached the website. The bags are durable, roomy, attractive and priced to sell. They make great Mother's Day or even Easter/Passover gifts.

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