In July 2018, the series was cancelled, with the ABC's head of non-scripted production citing "budget cuts and the relatively high cost of making the show" as the reason for its cancellation.
The Checkout features segments that examine the practices and methods of manufacturers, retailers, service providers and advertisers. Using a humorous style, the show highlights practices that are misleading, dishonest, unfair or occasionally even illegal or unethical. Often segments will target types of services or products rather than individual brands or companies. Examples include a segment on overpriced Wi-Fi services offered in certain hotels, the lack of scientific proof for the health benefits claimed by manufacturers of complementary medicines, and the concept of peer-to-peer lending.
Some segments take aim at specific brands and companies. One example was directed at Cadbury and their Joyville campaign which promoted a 10% increase (from 200gm to 220gm) in the size of the family blocks of chocolate which The Checkout portrayed as ironic given that Cadbury had previously reduced the blocks by 20% from 250gm to 200gm. Another was on Anaconda Mountain Bikes which are sold as such but are actually built for road-use only.
The show also includes the segment 'F U Tube' that allow viewers to upload their own queries or complaints about goods or services they have purchased. The program is associated with Choice magazine.
|Season premiere||Season final|
|1||10||21 March 2013||30 May 2013|
|2||16||20 February 2014||10 July 2014|
|3||12||9 April 2015||2 July 2015|
|4||12||7 April 2016||29 September 2016|
|5||12||6 April 2017||29 June 2017|
|6||12||30 January 2018||17 April 2018|
The ABC was sued by Avni Sali for defamation over a segment on Swisse products. The ABC stood by the segment. Justice David Beach refused to strike out the case, finding that it was "not without real prospects of success". The matter eventually settled out of court.
The ABC also faced legal action over a segment on A2 milk with the a2 Milk Company claiming that the segment contains a number of "inaccuracies, misrepresentations and omissions". The A2 Milk company's case was based on the Competition and Consumer Act which does not typically apply to the ABC. However, the company argued that "advertising for the program constitutes 'engaging in commerce'."
Paul McIntyre at AdNews wrote (of the show's return in 2014), "At the risk of sounding like a limpwristed leftie – and trust me I'm not – those troopers over at the ABC are onto something, once again. Every brand marketing mandarin and marcoms agency of any creed needs to wake up to themselves and ask some hard questions."
Juliette Hughes at the Australian Catholic Office for broadcasting wrote (in 2013) "The Checkout retains some of the verve and righteous anger of The Chaser, indeed could almost be said to be knocking over a few of the moneychangers' tables in what passes for today's secular temples, the premises ....of revered corporations."
Gordon Farrer, for The Sydney Morning Herald, wrote, "Typical bloody lefty pinko commie ABC, launching yet another assault on Things That Good People Hold Dear.....Humph. If you accept The Checkout's view of the world, marketing and advertising are industries out of control, full of charlatans, unfair restrictions on consumers, misrepresentation and outright lies about products of less-than-essential value to human existence."
The school of journalism at the University of Canberra commented, "The format at times feels a little disjointed and uneven with some segments falling flat. It also becomes difficult at times to distinguish between genuine viewer generated content and fictional scenarios, thus distracting from the telling of the key information."
The Super Foods segment in an episode of the first series of The Checkout was a finalist in the 2013 Eureka Prize for Scientific Journalism. The segment investigated foods promoted as ultra-healthy.
The Complete Series 1 and 2 box set was released on 3 December 2014.