In the past, self-service checkouts have attracted strong feelings from both the ‘for’ and ‘against’ camps. Two years ago, the majority of you told us you avoided them like the plague, but the tables have started to turn…
In July 2010 we put up a poll about self-service checkouts and over 1,000 of you responded. Six in ten said you hated self-service checkouts at supermarkets, while a third said you liked them, finding them ‘speedy and convenient’.
However, a recent test by The Grocer found that 83% of their mystery shoppers had ‘no problem whatsoever’ using self-service tills at Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco supermarkets.
The great self-service checkout debate
In past Convos, we’ve seen frustrated commenters and evangelical converts of self-service tills. For example, Martin Stride was put off self-service checkouts forever:
‘I hate them with a passion, more so in the DIY store I frequent. I object to having to struggle with awkward items to the checkout and scan them. If they want my money the least they can do is take it off me personally – not some robotic, annoying computer voice.’
On the other hand, Craig Brown said they were a great time-saver:
‘I find these machines fantastic. Sure, they can be a bit glitchy and it’s a pain when you’re buying items such as alcohol, but overall I think they are a good thing. When I pop down to my local Sainsbury’s I can now pop in and out in a few minutes rather than having to queue for ages just to buy some milk!’
So The Grocer would have us believe that the tides have changed, and we’re turning into a nation of self-service checkout converts. And I have to admit, I find myself turning to them more often than not when I have a small basket of shopping, simply due to the shorter queuing time.
Swings and roundabouts
Yet I still have my frustrations with self-service! As a former checkout-worker, I’m fairly comfortable with the technology. But I find it frustrating that there are still a few occasions where I need help from an assistant. If I want to buy paracetamol, alcohol, anything sharp, anything above a 12 certificate or use a voucher – I need an assistant to approve the purchase. And of course, we’ve all had the ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ warning far too many times.
I fully understand the need to keep a close eye on restricted products, so I don’t blame the checkouts for this. But I often find I’m waiting an unreasonable amount of time as one lone assistant runs themselves ragged trying to approve endless warnings from 20 checkouts. In fact, general secretary of shopworkers union Usdaw, John Hannett said:
‘Frustrated shoppers often take out their anger on the nearest shopworker. Unfortunately, self-service checkouts have become another flashpoint that can lead to shopworkers being abused, threatened and even physically assaulted.’
So, two years on from our original poll, I’m going to run a similar poll again to see if you’ve really changed your minds about self-service checkouts. Have you found that they’re improving over time? Or do you still avoid them at all times?
Do you hate supermarket self-service checkouts?
Yes, I don't like using them (63%, 1,753 Votes)
No, they're speedy and convenient. (32%, 880 Votes)
I don't know, I've never used one. (5%, 131 Votes)
Total Voters: 2,767