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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful insight into the realities of retail
Anna Sam knows the tough reality of life at the tills. She has clearly experienced the lows but manages to communicate those lows in a style that renders them interesting rather than whiny. Stylistically, the writing structure can be a bit off-putting if you don't give it a chance, and I have real sympathy for those reviewers unable to get under that to the heart of the...
Published on 13 Oct 2009 by Richard Hammond

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Strange style
Very strange writing style probably better in the checkouts than writing but the book has its moments (a few anyway ) preferred Ahmed tazzines book on the same topic a much better style
Published 23 months ago by Empire


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful insight into the realities of retail, 13 Oct 2009
By 
Richard Hammond (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Checkout: A Life on the Tills (Paperback)
Anna Sam knows the tough reality of life at the tills. She has clearly experienced the lows but manages to communicate those lows in a style that renders them interesting rather than whiny. Stylistically, the writing structure can be a bit off-putting if you don't give it a chance, and I have real sympathy for those reviewers unable to get under that to the heart of the thing. Do persevere, it is well worth it as the insights into a life almost all of us play a supporting role to are fascinating (there are 4m retail workers in the UK and all the rest of us go out and shop). Read it with an open-mind and you will find yourself becoming that bit more patient when it comes to paying for your stuff in the supermarket and that's no bad thing.

The one gripe I have is the publisher's heavy-handed attempt to localise the content - French retail conventions are twisted a bit to fit UK ones. It's at its most jarring when talk of Euros and Cents is shoehorned into Pounds and Pence. We're not thick, we know Sam is French and that she worked in the French retail system - no need to patronise us with this unnecessary localisation.

I would also recommend that every retail manager has a read of Checkout too - you'll learn much about how not to treat your staff, you will become a better manager. For the flip-side to life in the supermarket, also read the excellent 'Shelf Life' by Simon Parke.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique insights into an everyday experience, 12 Sep 2009
By 
A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Checkout: A Life on the Tills (Paperback)
It was fun reading the inside story on working in superstores in Anna Sam's book Checkout. If ever there was a lightweight holiday read this is it, but it also worth reading as a snapshot of something in daily life we take for granted - the visit to the supermarket till.

Anna Sam worked for eight years in a Leclerc superstore in Rennes as a check-out operator (a job which she amusingly describes as "beepeuse" in her interview with the Daily Telegraph). With her degree in French literature, Anna Sam was never going to be content with sitting at the till year in year out, and when she cottoned on to the power of the Internet, she launched her blog, Les Tribulations d'une Cassiere, which became an instant success.

Book deals and possible film offers followed with the result that Anna Sam is no longer a beepeuse, showing once again the power of the Internet to catapult people into prominence.

Enough of the background. Checkout is a humorous but also rather humbling account of the experience of dealing with customers - people like you and me who have to shop and try to keep the experience as quick and efficient as possible, often ignoring the real people who work in our local stores. Customers continue mobile phone conversations while packing their bags. They sneeze over the operator. They belittle the staff in front of their children ("if you don't work hard at school you will end up in a job like this").

The check-out operator has to handle an unremitting stream of packages passing on their conveyor while dealing with people who are downright stupid and often unacceptably rude. The chirpy "good morning" and the friendly smiles are compulsory behaviours enforced by the company, and employees are generally denied any way of responding to behaviour which would be not allowed anywhere else.

Anna Sam describes all the different types of customer and the reader may cringe at recognising themselves. There are the people who start snarling when there is a hold-up ahead of them. The people who always complain about the lack of free bags. The impatient ones who can't bear to take a moment longer at the checkout than is absolutely necessary and the people who linger in the store right up to closing time. The people who open a bag of crisps to eat a few then put the bag on the conveyor so it empties its contents on the belt. The smelly customers, and those who hide their money in strange places about their person then hand it to you still warm from their bodies - supermarkets are dirty places!

This is not a "literary" read, but its worth a look. I was left thinking that it should be compulsory reading for shoppers as a reminder that we really can't treat other people as robots. Shop-workers have the most unenviable of jobs and suffer long hours and low pay. If Anna Tam reminds us that there are real people working in supermarkets she will have done a good job
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very fun read, 14 Nov 2009
By 
Tina "Tina" (Montreal, Quebec) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Checkout: A Life on the Tills (Paperback)
I love reading books written by people who share their experiences while working at a particular job. Checkout by Anna Sam is exactly this type of book.

I am always amazed at all the behind the scenes "goings on" in a particular job or field. I mean, I see people working in the supermarket every day and, to be honest, never really gave alot of thought to all that goes behind making a "good cashier". Its like I go to the store and miraculously "poof" someone is there to help me. So, I absolutely loved reading about the stuff that goes on that the average customer never gets to see, hear or experience.

Author Anna Sam does a fine job of telling us, without too many boring details, the finer (and less fine) ins and outs of working on the checkout counter. She is very witty and each experience is written with a healthy dose of dry humor which works perfectly with the stories she is sharing.

The only thing I had a bit of an issue with is the non-continuation of the storyline. Sam jumps from one experience to the next without much of a set up and it always took me a few seconds to get into the next story (or chapter) - still, this proved to be a funny, entertaining and oh my god! I will look at my supermarket people totally differently from now on - type of read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Strange style, 24 Sep 2012
This review is from: Checkout (Kindle Edition)
Very strange writing style probably better in the checkouts than writing but the book has its moments (a few anyway ) preferred Ahmed tazzines book on the same topic a much better style
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me, 28 May 2014
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This review is from: Checkout (Kindle Edition)
Waste of money - didn't enjoy it at all. Badly written and really short story. I wouldn't bother to buy
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fair to Middling, 3 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Checkout (Kindle Edition)
I was a checkout girl for a brief temporary spell and so I could relate to a lot of the situations described by Ms Sam. However she has been a lot more unfortunate in her dealings with the more rude, awkward, difficult customers. Perhaps a reflection on different geographical locations? Maybe we are a more mannerly, polite, patient peoples in the north-east of Scotland? That said, it was a pleasant way to fill in a couple of hours and it raised a smile or three at some of the situations it brought to mind.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Wish that I had not wasted my money, 9 Dec 2013
By 
Ian Wilson "labrador fan" (Central England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Checkout (Kindle Edition)
Dreadful. Badly written and totally boring. Not sure why this is even available on Amazon. Do not bother buying this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Quirky Read, 1 Oct 2013
By 
Mrs. C. Colbert (Blackburn, Lancashire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Checkout: A Life on the Tills (Paperback)
If you've ever wondered what life is like on the other side of the checkout as you buy your weekly shopping, then wonder no more as Anna Sam talks to you as if you were applying for the job yourself.

I learnt that supermarkets in France don't supply their customers with free bags anymore, unlike the UK where they're given out every day in their thousands and then thrown carelessly away, cluttering up the rubbish dumps.

I also discovered what the three most common questions the till operators are asked, and which European country uses the most toilet rolls! Oh yes, this book is full of gems like this.

I quite enjoyed her easy style of writing and short paragraphs with titles such as `Embarrassing Items' and `My Till, My Love'.

But I started to get a little bored about of the way through and I was glad it was just a short book (only 174 pages). It is a unique and very quirky read and there were some funny parts.

Even though Anna worked in France, I'm sure it is equally relevant wherever it is set, as I'm sure retail workers can identify with the many amusing, awkward and downright rude customers!
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5.0 out of 5 stars really good, 11 Aug 2013
By 
Hannah Southworth (England, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Checkout: A Life on the Tills (Paperback)
this really encapsulates what it's like to work in asupermarket albeit a little different from where I wokred. I still provides a useful insight into the industry
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5.0 out of 5 stars Reality!, 24 Jan 2013
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Oh, how I related to this author! I found myself agreeing with everything, been there done that! I work on tills for a large retail company,this was almost too close to reality!
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Checkout: A Life on the Tills
Checkout: A Life on the Tills by Morag Young (Translator) (Paperback - 15 July 2009)
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