Self Check-Out

03 May

As people who know me can attest, I love technology and how it has the potential of making our lives better and easier. I love cell phones, the Internet, digital cameras, computers, DVD players, iPods, etc. However, some inventions DO NOT seem to accomplish that desired result. Take for example the self checkout stations at grocery stores. Don’t get me wrong, I love the technology behind this little kiosks, but in practical terms, the self checkout stations just don’t work very well, especially if you have multiple items and/or produce. They are great if you have just one item and you want to get in and get out quickly.

However, it seems that whenever I try to use these kiosks, I get stuck behind some moron who can’t figure out how to scan things or to pay for their stuff. Then, sometimes, I AM that moron! When that happens, it’s embarrassing and frustrating. (i.e. “Please place your item in the bagging area…” and “Please insert cash or select payment type…”) I often feel that I can get my stuff paid for more quickly if I go to a live checker. But that isn’t always an option. At Albertson’s earlier today, there was one live checker and FOUR self-service kiosks. That didn’t seem right to me…

The silly thing is that while the stations seem to be intended to replace humans, but they end up using just as many people since they need at least one person to hand-hold people through the process since people are often confused about and can’t figure out how to make those systems work.

According to a recent article in the local paper, the new Wal-mart that is opening up in Riverton in two weeks WILL NOT have the self-service kiosks. The store manager said that people just didn’t like them that much in other stores and so they were opting to hire more checkers. Interesting. I once worked as a checker at Macey’s grocery store in Sandy, and I think the service checkers can provide is essential. It can never be replaced by a machine, no matter how sophisticated.

One technology that I think would be really cool is RFID technology, where small radio frequency identification tags would be embedded into all your grocery items. Then you could take your cart to a scanning station and it would detect ALL the items in your cart and instantaneously and get you on your way. Of course, you’d still need to bag it and I’m not sure how it would work with produce since I wouldn’t want electronic chips embedded in my celery…

“Pay at the pump,” however, is the greatest invention ever! (Well, that may be a bit of an overstatement, but it is pretty sweet.) I love not having to go into the convenience store. Pay at the pump is almost like buying your gas from a vending machine. I’ll never buy gas again with cash or check!


Posted by on May 3, 2008 in Uncategorized


3 responses to “Self Check-Out

  1. robinbl

    May 5, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    I remember hearing a talk radio discussion on all these self-service things that were popping up and how people were all excited about how much faster and more efficient things would be if we could just “do it ourselves”. But as they discussed, it’s really us the consumer that’s getting gypped. We are now performing the tasks that companies used to have to pay employees to do. Are we saving any money because Wal-Mart thinks it can get by with only three cashiers working in the whole store? No! What has gone out the window is the concept of customer service. There’s nothing wrong with someone helping you, “serving” you, if they are well-trained and customer-friendly. Funny how we think technology is going to solve all our problems and often ends up causing more!

  2. kira

    May 6, 2008 at 9:15 am

    yea. self check outs and produce do not mix well!

  3. Vicki

    May 7, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    I do not like grocery store self check outs at all!! But I agree with you that getting gas with a credit card and not having to go into the store is awesome!


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