One of the biggest scams to hit modern society is the introduction of self-service checkouts at our major retail supermarkets. Supermarkets would rather pay theft and shoplifting costs than wages and that’s the bottom line!
Today, I lined up behind one of only two manned checkouts (out of about 20) at my local Woolworths supermarket; I was about 3 people deep. The checkout girl (overworked and underpaid) saw me approach her never-ending line of flustered customers and yelled out to me, “Sir, would you like to use the express checkout system – it would be much faster?” I looked at her with a wry smile and nodded whilst I thought, quicker for who you or me…
Nevertheless, I decided to make my way down to the self-serve checkout where one young lady was supervising several small self-scanning benches – I had used these stations before but really only for a loaf of bread or carton of milk and I’m pretty tech savvy so the “how–to” didn’t bother me.
But this time I had about 30 items in my trolley, 20 were small cans of tuna all the same and then I had 10 other standard items plus a big bag of dog food. The first thing I noticed was the complete lack of bench space to place my groceries on once I had scanned them – it was as small as the side of my kitchen sink and totally inadequate.
Secondly, I’m 6’1 tall, however, the checkout machine was obviously built for the shortest possible person or disabled; therefore, I had to uncomfortably hunch over this thing like a Russian soldier hovering over a small camp fire in the snow trying to keep warm… It wasn’t at all ideal.
Thirdly, my security and situational awareness was also compromised as I was required to operate this machine with my back to the crowd whilst other shoppers exited the store and brushed past me (I hate that). Also, several people crowded me in with their portly backsides and their trollies as they clumsily tried to operate their own scanner. I almost felt under siege!
Anyway, I did my best to control my rising anxiety and proceeded to scan my goods. The 20 individual cans of tuna felt like it took forever to scan through and I was acutely aware of the supervisor checkout lady peering around me as I beep… beeped my way for an eternity through my trolley of products.
The upside was I didn’t have any fresh vegetables or fruit to weigh otherwise it would have taken longer still! I rarely buy ANY fresh fruit and veg from the supermarket (I grow most of my own). Meanwhile, as I was feverishly beeping away I looked over my shoulder and saw the original checkout line I came from was now empty – I should have known that would be the case…
As I neared the end of my items, the scanner stopped and a notice told me to call for assistance… I knew this would happen too… The supervisor came over and swiped her card to reset the scanner so I could finish and pay. She looked at me as I was waiting for the machine to give me my receipt and with a smile said, “thank you for shopping at Woolworths.”
This was my opening to be the grumpy old opinionated middle aged male and give her some feedback so I said, “you know, this is a really bad experience – there’s not enough bench space, it’s all squashed up in here, it hasn’t saved me any time, blah… blah… blah.”
She basically said, she was sorry I felt that way and surprisingly admitted how they are always understaffed and unfortunately need to rely on the self-scanning system to get the customers through. In the end, she wished me a good day and I was out the door walking away vowing to never use the self-scanning checkout system ever again unless it was just one or two items.
Essentially, we now work for the supermarket by operating their payment machines and scanning our own items plus organise our own packaging – we do this all for free so the supermarket can employ less people and improve their profit margins… Excellent!
The self-scanning system is a scam and it is certainly NOT for the benefit or convenience of the customer but just another way to save costs. We shouldn’t take our frustrations out on the supermarket staff, they’re just the poor workers on the front line forced to uphold a faulty and flawed system but how else can we vent our frustrations?
In the future, there will be “smart trollies” which calculate what you have and give a total to pay as you leave – this can’t come fast enough for me personally! Although, it would mean even less jobs for checkout workers but at least it could be justified. At the moment, there’s less checkout workers with their replacement self-scanner being a total failure for everyone except the company board members and shareholders.
Hopefully, in the future there will also be “smart people” who will only use the smart trollies for the mere basics and source the rest of their fresh produce elsewhere from farmer friendly retailers who sell good quality chemical free goods. Better still, I hope more people grow their own fruit and veg, buy locally grown goods, and help restore the balance to society as well as nature.
Mark Valencia – Editor SSM
Look, and see the Earth through her eyes…