Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
 thenelli01

Ethics of Returning a Shopping Cart

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

I work at a supermarket and do carts often. When I am outside rounding them all up, I tend to think a lot.. sometimes heavily and sometimes frivolously.

My question(s): 1) Do shoppers have an ethical duty to bring back their shopping cart?

2) Do YOU bring back your shopping cart?

I am enjoying this forum very much so far. I read Ayn Rand's Virtue of Selfishness and I was hooked. Atlas Shrugged is next!

Edited by Matt Giannelli

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If one chooses to use a shopping cart some place where people are instructed to put them back, then yes, put the dang thing back. Otherwise, don't use a shopping cart there. It's not your property to make the rules on. If you don't like their rules, then go elsewhere, see if you can find a place that doesn't care much where you leave your cart.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, here at least, most places will not explicitly tell you that you are meant to put them back. However it is generally understood that this is what most supermarkets/stores will expect you to do. Assuming you know this, it is probably reasonable to conclude that ignoring this and choosing not to return the trolley is not the most moral thing to do.

You would be doing somethign which you know goes against how they wish their property to be used. Even though you might not have agreed to anything contractual or explicitly agreed to obey their wishes in this regard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The whole point of having a "cart boy" is an extension of making the shopping experience better for the customer. Back in the day as a cart boy myself (I can't believe it was 13 years ago), I used to get so angry at customers for not returning the carts to the little holding areas. The way I see it now, however, is that a shopper is usually busy. If they don't have time to return the carts in the most "ideal" way, well, that's why the cart boy is employed. As with anything, I think a base level of civility and thoughtfulness should go for both the shopper and the retailer. As a former cart boy, I usually just try to figure out how I can make the current cart boy's job easier while not putting myself out too much -- but that can't always be guessed, and some cart boys don't care either way, anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember reading a rant somewhere about people who didn't take their carts back, thereby blocking parking spaces, etc. This rant really laid into the people who left them back, calling them rude, inconsiderate, etc.

One response was from an irate parent who was downright phobic that her child would be kidnapped while she was off returning the cart!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My question(s): 1) Do shoppers have an ethical duty to bring back their shopping cart?

2) Do YOU bring back your shopping cart?

Depends on the store, and the practice probably varies from place to place. At the supermarket I go to, there’s someone always going around collecting carts in the parking lot. As a customer I prefer that, I want to get my ice cream home and into the freezer asap before the butterfat has a chance to crystallize. Those extra couple minutes walking the cart back…I mean why not bag your own groceries too? Why do they provide services at all?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I usually grab a cart from the parking lot while heading into the store. I know it does not shave much off the price of grocery shopping, but it is one less cart the 'cart-boy' has to retrieve. As to ethical 'duty' - ha, I recognize no such animal. Sometimes the cart I grab is not in the cart corral. Sometimes I'll take a cart not in the corral, return it to a corral, and take the size cart from the corral I prefer. Often times, if I do not bring a cart in from the parking lot, I do not get the smaller size cart I prefer to use. Returning the cart after shopping to a corral prevents the cart from being blown by the wind into another vehicle. I do it because I know the cart I leave in the corral will not inflict damage on another shoppers vehicle. I would just consider this as common courtesy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since the question has already been answered, here's a tidbit aside: In some countries the shopping carts are in a holding area just like the carts at the airport. A coin (say a quarter) in the slot frees the cart. You get your quarter back when you return the cart to a similar sort of pen. One sees most customers returning the carts, and a few thinking its worth a quarter not to do so. These tend to be countries where people generally use coins anyway (e.g. the 1 pound is a coin).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nine times out of ten I return the cart to the corral, simply because I want to live in a world where shopping carts are in their place. If ever I don't, it's because the weather is downright nasty. Even then I'll shove it up on the median or make sure it's not free to roll around into parking spaces or driving lanes.

As to ethical 'duty' - ha, I recognize no such animal.

Nice catch!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My ex-GF used to laugh at me for wanting to actually return clothes I had decided not to buy to their proper places. This in stores that have so many things stocked in the wrong places that she had just expressed her frustration with THAT fact.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always return the cart, no matter how bad the weather or how far away the corral. I believe people have a moral obligation to keep parking spaces clear of their carts.

Even if the store has someone out there, whose job is to collect carts? That's where I prefer to shop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even if the store has someone out there, whose job is to collect carts? That's where I prefer to shop.

Well, they have people to take carts from the outside cart depository and bring them inside. Ideally, that's all they'd have to do when they go out there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My ex-GF used to laugh at me for wanting to actually return clothes I had decided not to buy to their proper places. This in stores that have so many things stocked in the wrong places that she had just expressed her frustration with THAT fact.

Do you ever stack things in the right places when you see them stacked incorrectly? Anal person that I am, I'm sometimes tempted to do that, but so far I think I've resisted the urge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If they don't have time to return the carts in the most "ideal" way, well, that's why the cart boy is employed.

By that logic, we should also keep their cleaning crew busy, by just dumping stuff on the floor instead of a trash can.

The cart boy isn't employed to help out people who can't be bothered to return the carts. He's employed to fix the mess their douchebag anti-social behavior causes, before it affects the civilized customers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
By that logic, we should also keep their cleaning crew busy, by just dumping stuff on the floor instead of a trash can.

The cart boy isn't employed to help out people who can't be bothered to return the carts. He's employed to fix the mess their douchebag anti-social behavior causes, before it affects the civilized customers.

I guess you didn't read the rest of what I wrote, where I mentioned basic civility and making the cart boy's job easier.

It's just false that cart boys aren't there to help busy customers. What do you think is a store's aim in business, exactly?

Edited by JASKN

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since the question has already been answered, here's a tidbit aside: In some countries the shopping carts are in a holding area just like the carts at the airport. A coin (say a quarter) in the slot frees the cart. You get your quarter back when you return the cart to a similar sort of pen. One sees most customers returning the carts, and a few thinking its worth a quarter not to do so. These tend to be countries where people generally use coins anyway (e.g. the 1 pound is a coin).

ALDI stores do that here in the U.S.

J

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess you didn't read the rest of what I wrote, where I mentioned basic civility and making the cart boy's job easier.

I read it. I didn't respond to that part, because I agree with it. I responded to the part I disagree with.

It's just false that cart boys aren't there to help busy customers.

First off, a cart boy can't tell which customer is busy and which isn't. So the store is left with only two options, as their official policy:

1. follow everyone to their cars, and take their carts when they're done.

2. encourage busy customers to leave their carts next to their parking space and drive away, because a cart boy will find it and pick it up.

The first is impractical, the second is a lawsuit waiting to happen. That's why no store would ever adopt a policy that encourages busy customers to just leave their carts in an area not marked for that purpose. If you leave your cart in an area that isn't clearly designated to hold carts, then you are an asshole.

Edited by Nicky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always return my carts to the nearest place meant for carts to go. And I even sometimes push all of the carts together so they're one neat row of carts. Just because I like to be neat and orderly about that. It makes things more efficient, and also it makes the cart pusher's job a bit easier at pretty much no cost to me. So in that sense, putting the cart where it belongs is kind of like holding the door open for someone behind me as I go through. Just being benevolent. It doesn't hurt me any to be nice to people in everyday situations like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you leave your cart in an area that isn't clearly designated to hold carts, then you are an asshole.

Juding people based on their "shopping cart ethics" is ridiculous.

My first high school job was as a cart girl, and I never got angry with customers who left their carts by their cars, or in empty parking slots.

As long as I was making $7.25 an hour, I didn't care.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...