Innocent Bystander

A little tech, a little current affairs, and my view on whatever has my attention at the moment...

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Check Yourself Out

I really like those self-checkout things that have been popping up at my local supermarket, Home Depot, and now Costco.

It's not that I don't like interacting with a pimple faced teenager or some other minimum wage cashier that couldn't make change if it wasn't for the cash register telling them how much to give me (and even then it's a stretch). But I find that when unobstructed I can check myself out faster than most of the cashiers I've had to deal with.

I know, not everybody likes these things, many people think they're cold, impersonal and even confusing. The thing is, like most devices (computers, cell phones, PDA's, cash registers etc...) that have been out for the last 10+ years I think people would find them significantly less confusing and easier to use if they just read the screen in front of them or listen to the messages that the device is telling them.

We're not talking about complicated stuff like changing out the receipt roll or anything here (although I did once show some girl at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg how to do this many years ago.... and I've never worked at Busch Gardesn), but how about figuring out how to complete a sale with a gift card? I actually had to show a cashier at my local Target how to complete my sale when I paid with a gift card, I've never used a cash register at Target myself. Yet amazingly by reading the screen I knew how to process the transaction where the cashier didn't...

Anywho... my local Costco has completed a COMPLETE transition to these self checkouts. There's not a single human cashier other than the one at customer service in the entire place! Last time I was there, they only had 3 cashiers and the rest were self-checkouts... Now there's none.

After my experience today, I would hope that their having problems with some of the lanes. I don't say this because I wish ill of Costco, actually I say this because they only reason why I could come up with that they would have half of the self-checkout lanes closed would be because some were broken. Otherwise it just doesn't make sense to not have every single lane open whenever the store is open. You don't need to worry about lunch breaks, potty breaks etc for cashiers, so why not have every single lane open... Yet this morning, just short of half the checkout lanes were open...


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