Self-service checkouts – they seem to be on an unstoppable rise in supermarkets, banks and other stores. I hate them – am I just a Luddite trying to hold back the tide of progress?
When my mum worked in a grocery shop in the 70s and 80s, the thing she loved most was chatting to the customers – usually prising their life story out of them as she weighed their apples or counted out their change.
One thing I’m pretty sure she never said to them is: ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’!
Why I hate self-service checkouts
I know people who love self-service checkouts, but I’m not one of them. I’m baffled when friends protest that they are quick and easy to use. Whenever I’m in my local supermarket, people are always having to summon help because the machine won’t take their money or their item won’t scan.
And we found that frustration with the machines has led to a third of British shoppers swearing at them.
I personally can’t see how the checkouts save any time at all. And doesn’t it seem odd the idea of having to scan and pack your own food? It’s like going to a restaurant and being invited to cook your own meal (I know there are a few of them around, too!)
It seems that shopping has become less and less personal over the years. From grocery stores to supermarkets, to shopping on the internet and now the expansion of self-service tills, it seems we spend less and less time talking to someone face to face.
That’s why I was so pleased to read that Morrisons is to bring back manned express tills in all its stores.
More personal service
I’m not suggesting that supermarkets should station an equivalent of my mum at every express till in a supermarket – you’d have an interesting time but a long wait to be served! But there must be a happy middle ground between the life story and the self-service checkout.
I was nicely surprised at the weekend when I went to pay for a book, when the woman behind the counter asked if I had read this other book as well, which was similar. For all I know this might have been part of the loathsome new company edict to ‘engage with the public’, but if so it worked. For a few seconds, I felt better about the shop.
Contrast this with my experience in another shop, where customers were urged to use the self-service tills by an assistant who then watched over them while the customer did all the work themselves.
It’s all so different to grocery shopping in America where I was practically told off for attempting to pack my own shopping.
The only good thing about the self-service checkout is that at least they don’t try to sell you half price chocolate or other things you don’t want – well, not yet anyway?
Do you like the convenience of the self-service checkout or would you rather be served by a human being?
Which of these problems do you find using self-service checkouts?
You have to ask for help (24%, 1,048 Votes)
There's always an unexpected item in the bagging area (24%, 1,048 Votes)
Customer does all the work (19%, 836 Votes)
They don't scan items properly (14%, 612 Votes)
You can't use your own bags (9%, 395 Votes)
I don't have any problems. I find them quick and convenient to use (6%, 264 Votes)
Other - tell us in the comments (5%, 222 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,775