Trolley barcode system could help deter irresponsible use

Many solutions have been put forth over the years to address the problem of unreturned or abandoned supermarket trolleys ("Be responsible in use of shopping trolleys" by Mr Darren Chan Keng Leong; Forum Online, Aug 3, and "Supermarket trolleys left for months in condo carpark"; July 19).

But, for the solution to be feasible, it has to be practical, easy to use, cost-effective and enforceable.

To stamp out this social problem, supermarkets should affix a barcode on each trolley.

The cashier should scan the barcode into the point-of-sale (POS) system and have it printed on the checkout receipt.

A customer paying cash, and not using any card, must produce one (for instance, the supermarket membership card, credit card, Pioneer Generation card, or identity card) to be scanned into the POS system before taking the trolley out with the goods purchased.

The supermarket should be able to trace a lost trolley from the POS receipt of the last customer who used it, the time and date of the receipt, and when the trolley was last seen.

The supermarket can scan the barcodes of all the trolleys weekly to generate an inventory list and display the missing ones.

Closed-circuit television cameras (based on the time and date of the POS receipt) at the supermarket and carparks should be able to show the customer or anyone taking the trolley away and failing to return it to the trolley bay.

After identification checks, the supermarket can then contact the last customer to account for or pay for the lost trolley.

The barcode system is a simple method that can help address and eradicate this social ill effectively.

Tan Kok Tim