Edit and bump: A response from Fred Meyer has been added below.
Apparently “12 items or less” isn’t working out so well these days, so someone at Fred Meyer decided that it was time for a change:
Granted, you probably weren’t going to be escorted out of the building for having 13 items in the express lane before, although surely some obscure company policy would have required the checker to slightly raise his eyebrows at you for doing so, followed by a pronounced scowl for any additional items. This just makes the whole thing unnecessarily vague though. Does this mean that the two items you’re carrying are insufficient to qualify as “about 12 items,” meaning you’ll have to either go back and stock up on canned dogfood or sit in the other line, behind the lady with three cartloads of supplies for the fallout shelter in the backyard? Exactly how much wiggle room are they allowing here? If I can present some highly complex mathematical proof to the cashier that the 73 items in my cart are roughly equivalent to “about 12 items” will they inform the angry shoppers behind me of this fact and start scanning? If I bring exactly 12 items to the checkout, will the cashier sternly inform me that I’m doing it wrong, and make me add half a roll of Lifesavers to the cart in order to provide the required level of uncertainty?
It seems that even shopping for groceries is getting unnecessarily complicated these days. I have sent an inquiry to Fred Meyer to try to figure this out, and will post any response that I receive.
Edit 9/26/07: A response from the manager of the local Fred Meyer:
Thank you for taking the time to bring forward your concerns on the Express
signing we have recently changed in the store. Studies were conducted and
the results showed that during peak times, 50%-60% of transactions are 15
items or less. The intent of changing the Express signing was to
accommodate those customers with small orders and process them quickly.
“About 12 items” is meant to service orders of 17 or less.We hope that you will feel comfortable using the Express lanes with a small
order. If I can be of further assistance, please contact me at the store.Christa Brackenbush
Store Sales Director, 664
(phone number deleted)
So there you have it. Apparently “About 12 items” means 17 items now. Good news for the people trying to sneak a couple extra items into the express lane.