The Cart of Public Opinion

Is it wrong to fantasize about hanging out in the parking lot in front of a grocery store, waiting for someone to leave a shopping cart in the middle of a parking space, and then rolling it into his car as he drives away?

For extra credit (redeemable for absolutely nothing), is it wrong to do this when I should be finishing the follow-up to this post?

For extra extra credit, devise a market-based solution to this problem.

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Get a laptop and make sure there is a starbucks or something nearby by for you to borrow internet from, then proceed as planned.

In the Netherlands we have a

In the Netherlands we have a system where the carts are chained together, and you have to uncouple them using a coin; you get the coin back when you chain the cart up again. Before they introduced that system, people took carts home and left them all over the place; today, that still happens, but much less often.

Cart Deposits

We do the same thing at some airports here, with the luggage carts, but I've never seen it at a grocery store. I figured customers would just regard it as too much of a hassle.

It's surprising to me that the deposit sytem would prevent theft. I'd expect it to prevent people from leaving carts scattered around, but if you want a shopping cart to take home, I wouldn't expect a nominal deposit to be much of a deterrent.

Taking a shopping cart home

Taking a shopping cart home is actually kind of a hassle. I'd really rather just have a quarter.

Scattered carts might be more tempting

Some cart nappers might be on the lookout for carts lost in lonely parts of the lot.

Deposits and "Immobilizers"

The "Real Canadian Superstore" up here combines the dollar deposit system with a wheel brake that locks up when you try to push the cart outside the property line.

The competing Wal-Marts do not do either. I suspect it's just part of their stubbornly successful business model - in that end of the market, they're banking that people are willing to trade off an occasionally cluttered parking lot against the inconvenience of fishing around in their pocket for quarters and loonies before they start shopping.