What Aldi Employees Wish You Knew

Aldi employees probably wish you knew that everything they do is on the clock. Whether they're scanning your groceries or stocking the shelves, they're being timed and held to the highest standards. With this in mind, it's possible that you may have committed an Aldi faux pas without realizing it. So, understanding the unspoken rules for shopping at Aldi and how fast the employees have to work can help you understand what to do and not do while shopping.

There are several things that you can do to make the checkout process go as smoothly as possible, including being alert, not being chatty with the cashier, and having your money ready to pay. You should also be considerate of the cashier by not swiping their cart when you forget a quarter and not shopping from their stocking pallet. As you learn more about what Aldi employees wish you knew, you will probably approach shopping at Aldi differently in the future

Aldi times cashiers on how fast they can check you out

The cashiers at Aldi are so fast that they've often gotten your whole cart filled before you've managed to press all the right buttons to pay for your groceries. There's a reason they're that fast. According to former Aldi employee Andrei Ignatescu, his store required employees to meet a quota of scanning 1,000 products per hour (one item every 3.5 seconds). They would reportedly get in trouble if they didn't scan quickly enough (via Daily Mail). Another employee said their store's scanning speed requirement was a whopping 40 products per minute, which comes to one product every 1.5 seconds (via Reddit). Having a scanning quota keeps customers moving through checkout quickly without having to open up more registers. The fewer registers are open, the fewer employees Aldi has to hire. Ignatescu said that not meeting your target speed three times could result in a termination, and even though he was the fastest employee at his store, he said that he wasn't always able to reach his target numbers.

If you're not ready to pay and move on, Aldi cashier speed can sometimes be intimidating. Ignatescu said that some customers would get upset at how fast he would go. However, knowing that the cashier's job security depends on their speed should help you realize that they're not rushing you to be rude.

It's rude to be on your phone at checkout

With Aldi cashiers having to meet extremely fast checkout quotas, it's essential that they keep the line moving. If you're talking on the phone, you're less likely to pay attention to getting all your products on the belt and are more likely to fumble around while paying. One Aldi cashier even said that she scanned a second customer's complete order with the order of the person ahead of them when they didn't use a divider and neither customer looked up from their phones (via Reddit). A former cashier expressed on Reddit that, if you're on the phone, it can be more difficult to get your attention, and having to talk over your conversation to communicate with you can be frustrating.

Etiquette expert Lisa Grotts says that having a personal conversation on the phone in a public place like the checkout line invades the privacy of people nearby, like your cashier, who can become distracted by the phone call while trying to scan at a rapid pace (via Chicago Tribune). Being on speaker phone is an even ruder grocery store habit, especially at checkout. If you're in the middle of a phone conversation that you cannot miss like a work call, you can always tell them to hold on for a couple of minutes while you complete checkout. After all, you want to be able to give the person on the other end of the call your full attention lest you miss something essential.

You should have your cash or card ready at checkout

When you don't have your cash or card ready at checkout, it can seriously slow down the checkout process for your cashier and the person behind you in line. A new hire at Aldi's said that one of the problems that slow them down the most from their 40-item-per-minute checkout requirement was when people spend a lot of time digging through their bags to find their cash or card (via Reddit). Another employee said that some customers spend several minutes looking for their wallet only to realize they left it in the car. Then, they want the cashier to wait for them to go get it "real quick" (via Reddit). Meanwhile, the line is backed up all the way through the frozen food section.

Even if you have your wallet ready, not having your cash organized can stall the checkout process. If you take just a little time to organize your cash from smallest to largest denomination rather than cramming it into your wallet higgledy-piggledy, payment will go much quicker (via YouTube).

Counting out lots of bills and coins slows them down

Another action that slows down the line at Aldi is when you have a lot of bills and coins to count out. One Aldi employee lamented about the time when a customer paid $80 with $1 bills and another time when someone paid $5 all in change. Because both the customer and the cashier have to count out the money, it makes the line back up. It's even more annoying when a person pays with a lot of small bills or entirely with coins when they have larger bills available (via Reddit). Of course, you don't want a whole stack of $1 bills in your wallet and, sometimes, you may end up raiding your piggy bank to be able to afford groceries. But if you have any choice at all, be kind to your fellow shoppers and the cashier and choose a faster payment method.

Something else to consider to keep the line moving is not making exact change if you don't have to. It's faster for the cashier to give you change than for you to dig through your bag for just "one more penny" so that you can proudly produce the exact amount to the cashier (via Reddit). The cashier would much rather quickly make change for you.

You should learn conveyor belt etiquette

Aldi employees wish you knew more about conveyor belt etiquette. First of all, you should be sure to place the divider between your order and the order ahead of or behind yours. Secondly, you should wait for the person in line ahead of you to finish placing all their items on the belt before you add yours.

Using a divider prevents the cashier from having to void products that don't belong to you. If the price of voided items comes to more than $10, they have to call a manager to come up and turn a key, which wastes time for the manager, the cashier, you, and the other customer who has their purchases mixed in with yours. Of course, all this extra time spent not checking out customers also affects the cashier's stats for the time spent not scanning products (via Reddit).

An Aldi employee explained that the problem with adding items to the belt before the person in front of you finishes relates to the way that the belt movement works. The act of ringing up grocery items causes the belt to move forward. So, if the person ahead of you is adding their items to the belt more slowly than you are, the belt may move up without room for the customer ahead of you to finish placing their items (via Reddit). Another employee explained that putting down a divider doesn't prevent the belt from moving forward (via Reddit).

They don't really have time for chitchat

Aldi employees wish you knew that they don't have time for chitchat. It's an extremely competitive work environment, and it can be exhausting for cashiers to keep up with the number of items they're supposed to ring up per minute. According to The Sun, one assistant store manager even tells potential employees that they should expect to "work like robots" if they get the job. An Aldi employee wrote anonymously on Quora to explain that they were required to ring up 1,200 items per hour, have cash drawers no more than $10 over or under, have fewer than three voids, and have only about three seconds between customers. To manage this, the anonymous employee said, "Customers are hustled out like cattle, you don't have time to talk with them or make them smile."

Sure, if there's nobody in line behind you, you could sheepishly comment on why you're only buying wine and snacks on a Friday night. However, you'll want to hold your chatter until after the cashier is done with their part of the transaction so they can get through all the scanning as quickly as possible without making any mistakes.

If you get more than a handful of items, you should use a cart rather than a bag

Aldi employees wish you would get a cart if you have more than a handful of items to purchase. The way that Aldi handles checkout makes it especially frustrating if you do all your shopping in bags rather than using a shopping cart. If you place all the items from your bag onto the conveyor belt, the cashier will place them into an empty cart at the end of the aisle, not back into your bags. The cashier doesn't have time for that. If you stand around rebagging everything out of the cashier's cart or end up walking away with the cart without contributing yours to the cashier for the next purchase, you end up slowing checkout for the next person. And, if you walk away with the cashier's cart when they don't have a backup cart, the cashier has to waste time going to get a new cart.

One exasperated Aldi employee said, "I get so annoyed by all the people doing a week's worth of shopping with bags and not getting a cart. Anything more than like 10 items, get a d***ed cart. I'm not making a precedent of loaning them mine OR by bagging their stuff" (via Reddit).

You should remove your children from the cart at checkout

The way that the checkout process works at Aldi means that you don't end up taking the same cart out the door that you've been pushing around the store. Thus, you'll want to take your children out of the cart before the end of your purchase to make the cart switch-off go more smoothly.

Rather than juggle children, some parents try to switch out the cashier's cart with their own cart, which contains a child. Some Aldi cashiers don't mind if you quickly switch carts and leave a toddler in the child seat part of the cart. However, the problem comes when you leave children in the main part of the cart where the cashier has to be careful not to hit them with boxes and cans (via Reddit). If a cashier asks you to remove your children from the cart, they're not just being picky; it's for your children's safety.

You shouldn't swipe a cashier's cart instead of getting your own

If it's not your first time visiting an Aldi, you should be familiar with the way that the cart acquisition and checkout process works. The carts are locked together. However, you can unlock them with a quarter that you will get back when you return the cart. If you don't have a quarter to get your own cart from outside, Aldi's cashiers would rather give you a quarter for you to get a cart from the cart corral than for you to take their cart (via Reddit).

In case you're not familiar with why the cashier has an empty cart at the end of the checkout aisle, it's because that's where they put groceries after they scan them. Once the cashier's cart is full, it becomes your cart, and your now-empty cart becomes the cashier's cart. Aldi says that this process helps to "ensure quick and efficient service." However, if you steal a cashier's cart and make it your own, you upset the whole process, requiring the cashier to have to stop and go get a new cart. Even if it's close to closing time, it's no excuse to grab the cashier's cart.

Giving your cashier a candy bar is a thing

Facebook has a group called the Aldi Aisle of Shame, in which Aldi fans share that week's Aldi Finds and gab about everything Aldi-related. The group has around 1.5 million members and has developed a few eccentricities. For example, group members often make a "caw caw" bird sound if they think they've spotted a fellow member perusing the "aisle of shame" (the aisle with this week's Aldi Finds) with them (via Facebook). 

In 2021, a new tradition started when one user explained that he likes to do something nice for cashiers without slowing them down, so he asks what their favorite candy bar is that's in reach and buys it for them. He said that it's "just a little light to folks doing a job that's way more stressful than it should be." The post got 236 likes and created a new ritual for fellow group members. The practice has grown in popularity and, while still somewhat rare, it's become a way that some Aldi fans have found to provide a little bit of sugar-filled happiness to an overworked Aldi employee.

Instacart can be the bane of their existence

Aldi offers online shopping with grocery delivery or curbside grocery pickup available through Instacart. Customers can shop through Aldi's website or the Instacart mobile app. Then an Instacart Personal Shopper will shop for you for delivery or curbside pickup. While you'd think that outsourcing grocery delivery and curbside pickup would make Aldi employees' lives a little easier, it can make it more frustrating.

Some Personal Shoppers ask employees to help find half their order. While an Aldi employee is happy to help anyone in the store locate a couple of items, the fact that they don't have time to locate 20 items is why Aldi is outsourcing the job in the first place. One Aldi employee said that it can also be frustrating when Instacart Personal Shoppers have multiple orders and "micromanage the way I scan their order or arrange it in the cart." Another said, "If I have one more person shop a double and then wait til they get to check out to sort it, I'm gonna lose my s***" (via Reddit).

Not all Instacart Shoppers have bad habits, but Aldi employees lament that many tend to act entitled and be "in everyone's way, staring at their phones, not allowing anyone past them, totally oblivious to what's going on around them" (via Reddit). So, if you're an Instacart Personal Shopper, you can make Aldi employees' jobs easier to do if you try to be thoughtful in your shopping habits.

The Aldi cart hack causes problems

If you're looking for a way to bypass paying a quarter to rent an Aldi cart, you'll easily find a cart hack on Reddit or other social media sites. To avoid paying a quarter, people simply wrap the cart connection chain all the way around to the back of the quarter receptacle. By locking the cart to itself, you trick the cart into thinking it's connected to another cart. Thus, causing the cart to return the quarter to you. Sometimes customers do it to save themselves a quarter, while others do it as a pay-it-forward deed. No matter the reason you might do it, the Aldi cart hack causes problems.

An Aldi employee said that, when they find carts locked to themselves, it's extremely frustrating because it's "nearly impossible" to unlock them. The employee said, "We end up using those carts in the back and taking them off the sales floor, which is fine until we end up with 15 of them" (via Reddit). So, you're really not being kind by making carts free. Plus, the real reason Aldi makes customers pay for shopping carts is to keep prices low, so it's ultimately in your best interest to use a quarter like everyone else.

You shouldn't shop from employee stocking pallets

Aldi employees wish you knew how frustrating it is when you shop from their stocking pallets. They don't like when you remove produce or other items, including empty boxes, from their stocking pallets without asking them first. The shelves are for shopping. Before an item is on the shelf, it's not for you. One Aldi employee said, "It absolutely irritates me when people shop my cart or pallet. ... Or when they stop me to get boxes. Listen, I don't care if you take my boxes. But don't ... dig through my pallet of boxes and make them all fall. Grab one from the shelf. I literally don't have time for you to slow me down" (via Reddit).

A former employee said on Glassdoor that cashiers not only ring up groceries, but they are also responsible for unloading around 12 pallets of products per day. Aldi doesn't hire extra people to unload trucks, stock shelves, or do any cleanup. An anonymous poster on Quora said that they also have "impossible time deadlines" to get everything done. So, it's not that employees don't want to help you. It's just that, when you interrupt the shelving process, it slows their progress.