Business: A Creaky, Costly System

Notice those peculiar markings that are appearing on all sorts of products on store shelves—the striped codes with ten-digit numbers that have rechristened such items as a giant-size box of Tide as 37000-91220 and a can of Campbell's tomato soup as 51000-00011? They are part of an automated pricing and check-out system that food-industry officials hope will one day yield impressive cost savings (TIME, Dec. 30). Though it is still experimental, consumer groups are already opening fire on the system, which they fear will confuse shoppers by eliminating price markings on the products...

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