Letter Re: Making a “Last Run” When the SHTF – How Do They “Ring Up” Your Purchase?


Thank you GMJ for your great article. Having some cash at home is a great idea for when the ATM and credit/debit card readers no longer work with no power. When you make that last run to the grocery store, bring your greenbacks with you. Be prepared if their power is out.

You’ve made your organized path through the store and your cart is full. You pull up to the non-functioning conveyor belt to unload your purchase to scan. Because there’s no power it means no barcode price scanner and no credit/debit. The clerk is practically paralyzed, because they can’t scan your stuff.

I had this happen when a summer power outage left me in the dark at a major brand supermarket. I was finished with my shopping, so I went to the checkout. It appeared the company had a policy when I overheard the manager instructing the clerks. He said go ahead with a customers purchase by estimating the cost of an item. Tell them the price you guess on an item; they agree or offer their guessed/remembered price. Do this until you have a final agreement on an item. You keep a running tally, and the customer pays in cash. He said credit customers would have to wait until the power came back on.

I went to the next open clerk. I got out my smartphone and brought up the calculator app when she started estimating the prices. We finished the tally of the groceries, and I paid in cash and left. The folks with credit were left standing.

Should you find yourself in a similar situation but with the staff paralyzed, suggest the “estimate” idea. Politely ask to talk to the manager. He might think it’s a good idea. He’ll be making close to his sale price. Close is better than nothing. Plus, if there’s a crowd, he wants to keep people moving on out. It’s a little on the spot bartering.