Brian's Blog

…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World

Self-service checkouts

I despise self-service checkouts.

The first time I was badgered into using one while “all” the manned checkouts were manned. I was herded towards the beast by a member of staff who showed me how to operate it (I kept quiet about being a computer technician by trade)… she scanned all my shopping through for me, and fed my money into it – it wasn’t really self-service after all. I’m glad I was giving her some work to do – I felt sorry for her position, and the job she had been given, to direct shoppers away from the fellow paid staff in order to threaten her own job and that of all other checkout assistants.

On the second occasion at another supermarket it was some random late evening shopping and there were no manned checkouts open, so there was no choice but to use the self-service thingy – what a faff – and this constant nagging about an “Unidentified Object in the Bagging Area” that I didn’t realise at first was directed at me as it just sounded like the other background noises going on as other people clattered and beeped their way through their own shopping. The machine, it turned out, was objecting to me putting my rucksack down on it to get my wallet out.

Never again.

1) I would actually prefer to queue to be served by a person.
2) I will do my best to avoid walking into a shop staffed by machines – if the staff have all gone home to bed then the store shouldn’t be open.

There is something very inhuman about living our lives like this, at the mercy of machines, with no human/social contact. I live on my own and I go shopping on my own. That brief 1-2-1 interraction with a fellow human being, even if it’s just to be asked if I need a carrier bag (which I never do) and to tell me how much I am to pay for my goods, I’m sure is quite important to me, and certainly to those with even less social interraction in their life. When I hand my money over it needs to be to a fellow human being – I need to see where my money (in the form of cash) is going, I need to see it going into someone elses hands, even if they don’t get to keep it all for themselves.

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3 comments on “Self-service checkouts

  1. RealMikeJones
    15 August, 2015

    Completely agree, Brian. Our local ‘express’ store has only self-scan checkouts; when it first opened there was one occasion the voice said “unexpected item in bagging area” so I removed the last thing I’d placed there, only to be told “Please replace the item in the bag”

    At that point I got cross with the machine and my wife sent me to wait outside!

  2. bribikes
    16 August, 2015

    I agree with your sentiments, Brian, but I must confess that not long ago, however, that self-service was a godsend for me because interacting with one more person seemed overwhelming and the chance to bypass that was too good to pass up. But as I have come to be more confident in my own skin, I choose a cashier line more and more. I have discovered the simple joy of looking someone in the eye and giving them a sincere “thank you” for the effort they put out to give me good customer service.

    • Brian
      16 August, 2015

      Hey Bri, I’m discovering many different viewpoints on this topic and I’m appreciating them all. Yours is certainly one I’d not considered and I can see the benefit of choice here – had the “cashier” option disappeared altogether in all stores I’m sure this would have hindered your confidence-building, this would have been a shame for you, and also the cashiers that are now surely benefiting from your cheerful thanks 🙂

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This entry was posted on 15 August, 2015 by in Food & Drink and tagged , , , .
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