Pass…what??, you ask.

Passabene – a self-check system which Coop, one of the major supermarkets, in Switzerland have installed in their larger stores. This system is not new. i believe it was started maybe 4 years ago. But i never got to use the system until a few months ago when we went to a bigger Coop a couple of villages down from us (the ones in our little village and in the old town are too small for such a system).

So why do i want to talk about a system which has been in use for 4 years already? Well, last week i talked about how much trust exists between service provider/stores and customers in this post. i just wanted to show another example of it here.

Picture from a Japanese Website –

In brief, this is how the Passabene system works. (You can visit the website here – in German)

You register with your Coop Supercard (ok, you have to have a Coop Supercard first – which is easy to get, just fill in the form and they mail you the card on which you can collect points) to be a user of Passabene. It was a little confusing for me as the lady at the counter had initially misunderstood what i wanted (i blame my poor Swiss German). Anyhow, confusion cleared. The process to register was simple, again just fill in a form with name, address and Coop card number, she keys it into the computer and you can instantly use Passabene.

You swipe your Coop card at the computer screen, next to the rows of scanning devices. One of the devices light up – that one is yours. You take it and off you go shopping. Simply scan your items and put them in your trolley.

At checkout, go to the specially marked Passabene line, which usually has almost no one, give the lady behind the counter your scanner and she loads it up to her screen, you pay and done. It’s quick and easy, saves time; you can be in and out in minutes if you only needed a few things.

She didn’t even ask to see what items i had in my trolley. They trust that everything you put in there has been scanned. It would have been so easy to slip an extra apple or two in there. (Of course i didn’t)

The other thing i love about it is, my son will stay by my side and even help to get things from the shelves so he can do all the scanning. Normally he asks to go and play at the toy section till i finish, which isn’t a bad arrangement, but i just like to have him go supermarket shopping with me. i think it is because i grew up doing just that. My family loves supermarket shopping, especially my dad who insists on walking up and down every aisle even though we only need 2 things (we never leave with just 2 things!). So it’s a family event which i love from my childhood (actually we still do that now when i go back to visit). It’s a tradition i want to pass on. 😉 Plus, i think that it is good opportunity to talk about the food he eats.

i found some interesting discussion on the English Forum. There are a couple of people who don’t like the system and also one who had been constantly spot-checked on. Have a read here if you like to listen to what others have to say about Passabene.

Happy Shopping – wherever you may be shopping.