Non-confrontational Scofflaws

In Tesco-Lotus (as in most supermarkets) there’s a quick checkout – no more than 10 items, and baskets only – not that the rules are enforced. It’s most convenient to take through a basket of 15 or 20 items, as I have done many times. And unlike the UK, there won’t be anyone behind me in the queue quietly tutting disapproval. The checkout staff certainly won’t comment or refuse service. Admittedly, I’ve never had the cojones to take a trolley through the confined spaces of the quick checkout, but I’ve seen in done on many an occasion.

Thailand is not a free market economy, with many items subject to retail price controls – items such as oil, fish sauce, sugar, rice, condensed milk, flour (and non-food items such as fuel, school uniforms, medicines and music CDs). Whenever there is in impending price rise the shelves of Tesco-Lotus are stripped bare. Today it was oil that was in demand. People with baskets piled high with the stuff were queuing at the quick checkout. Now, Tesco-Lotus imposes a limit of three bottles of oil per customer under these circumstances. So, what do the checkout staff do? They ring up three bottles of oil, then accept payment before ringing up the next three bottles. And so on. Thus a single customer can (as happened with a customer in front of me in the queue) equate to 8 transactions.

Thailand: a country of non-confrontational scofflaws.

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