Saudi Arabia: Grocery Shopping – Count your Bags!

It can happen all over the world.  But it seemed to happen more often than necessary in Saudi Arabia.  I’m talking about not receiving all your grocery bags after grocery shopping!  There’s no way that an individual can count bags when groceries are being run up at the register and then loaded into the bags.  No one knows in advance how many bags of groceries they will actually receive.  In Saudi Arabia when checking out at the grocery store in most cases there is the cashier who is checking out each item and running them up on the register and then there is the bagger who will be putting the groceries into bags.  After that the bagger or another worker will assist by taking the loaded cart to the car for the customer.  So there are three possibilities during which time a customer can “lose” a bag or two.

In many cases these workers are usually expatriates from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.  What has been known to happen is when checking out a customer who has a cart (or two) filled with groceries, a casher will casually set a bag on the floor instead of passing it to the bagger to be placed in the cart or the bagger will set it on the floor instead of putting it in the cart or the person loading the groceries into the car will work fast and use his body as a shield so that the customer may not notice a bag or two remained in the cart.  If a customer notices one of the bags on the floor or still in the cart it is returned to them with smiles and apologies for the oversight.

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13 Responses

  1. I don’t know how it is done in KSA, but they should adopt the system of Walmart here in the States. The groceries are loaded into bags on a circular “bag holder”. When one bag is full they rotate the holder one small turn and start filling up another bag. The circular holder holds 4 or 5 bags of groceries at a time. the bags are “attached” to the holder until the cashier or customer removes it. That way you know how many bags of groceries are full at any one time. When the rounder is full the customer removes the bags and loads them in the cart The cashier never touches the bags to take them off the rounder unless you ask them too. They ring the food and put it into the bags. The customer puts their own bags in the cart. If i were there I would refuse the help and do it myself…it takes only a second to keep a running count of the groceries in one’s head. I don’t know if they initiated this due to the theft you mentioned but it has worked wonders for years for me and I have never “lost” or “forgotten” a bag yet!

  2. I don’t know, it never happened to me, I guess baggers are a lot more shifty in Riyadh…:)

  3. It never happened to me either. I think it is the responsibiltiy of the customer for the things he bought. I bag my own purchases or do it with the bagger (so watching what goes in which bag) and carry them to the car or if I need the exercise, I walk with my groceries.

    I think, similar things should go in one bag (thats how I help the bagger). What Oby mentions is interesting but what about breakable items like eggs? And it would not bag similar items in one bag unless the cashier makes an effort to make this happen.

  4. I’ve never had this happen in US or Saudi but a simple solution would to be bring your own bags. I bring large colorful reusable bags and have the bagger fill them. They are not going to be surreptitiously put aside.

  5. Here in France, the customer does the bagging and you’re on your own getting to the car, etc. We have to pay for bags but they can be reused. This means if you forget to bring a bag, you put each item in the cart, then out for the register, then back in the cart, then into your car where hopefully the bags are or else you will have to do something when you get home… :-))

  6. LOL, this would NEVER happen in Kuwait. Kuwaitis would march right back to the shop and beat them! LOL

  7. The only time I have experienced a missing item was a few weeks ago when buying liquid vanilla creamer from Tamimi. Decided to be greedy and take 3 bottles due to limited supply, got home to find only 2 in the bag! Though, on checking the receipt I only got charged for 2 so there was no dodgy business but maybe just divine justice for being greedy and hogging all the creamer :).

  8. I’m glad to hear that no one commenting has had this experience. Now I must admit I dislike shopping period so when my husband and I would go to the grocery store, it would always be a large shopping…which probably made it easier for a bag to go amiss too.

  9. never happened to me either.
    What annoys me is when the baggers put one item in one plastic bag! such a waste of plastic! I’ve never seen anyone complain about this to them, people are just not environmentally conscious in saudi.
    In Finland you have to pay for your plastic bag, which minimizes their use, or people will have their own reusable bags with them. Carrefour actually sells those reusable grocery bags, but I havent seen anyone else sell them.
    You might buy say 20 different items and end up with everything in separate bags!Why? I never understood why deodorant and milk cant be placed in the same bag, or bread and cookies?
    My solution is I go and pack with the guy and tell him what to do, if that doesnt work (he doesnt listen or care) I start loading things in the half empty bags myself 🙂

  10. Laylah

    I totally agree! Back in Aus people would complain that the attendant put too many things in one bag coz they didn’t know how to separate them properly. Where as here it seems they’ve all been trained to not put any items that aren’t the same into a bag. I’ve been given 5 plastic bags for 5 items before. To which I grabbed each item out of 4 bags and put them into the remaining one and left the extra bags on the check out. Such madness!

    It really pains me to throw plastic bags in the rubbish (though I often use them as rubbish bags) so I’ve decided to stitch some of my own re-usable bags to both give myself something to do and to feel a little better about my enviro footprint. However, I’m thinking I may have to counsel the baggers not to put the items into plastic bags before putting them into the re-usable ones. We’ll see..

  11. Here in the USA we have reusable bags or plastic ones that are free…and it makes me crazy that they don’t put many times in a bag. I give them a mild scolding on how wasteful that is and ask them to load each bag full. The good thing is is that it is easy to recycle the old ones…there are bins in stores that will take your plastic bags and not just theirs but any plastic bags.

  12. excellent observations and points about the plastic bags. I always saved mine and reused them for garbage bins or many other purposes.

  13. Sometimes the reason they pack so few items into a bag is because they are too thin/weak to hold anything. So either a couple items per bag-or double bag everything.

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