Grumpy Old Woman Speaks

I was grumbling about newfangled technology at the library last week. This is another grumble about newfangled technology, this time in the retail industry.

There’s a Boots chemist just down the road from my office, and I am a regular customer there. It’s where I buy most of my toiletries, often my tights, and sometimes even my lunch. They have recently overhauled the shop. I have no problem with the new layout, but they have put in those self-serve checkout points, where you scan your items and feed your money/card into a machine.

Call me cynical, but I don’t think this technology is installed for the convenience of the customer, I think it’s so the shop can save money by hiring less staff. There are five auto check outs and three regular checkouts – do the maths. At lunch time, they deign to put one person behind the tills. There is a longer queue at the ‘manned’ checkout than at the auto checkouts. I guess, like me, a lot of people are suspicious of newfangled technology.

If I pop in on my way to work, there’s no one at the tills at all and you have no choice but to use the auto checkout.

I am suspicious of using this gadget and would much rather be served by a human being. It reminds me of those automated telephone systems where you have to press a variety of buttons, including the ones to represent your credit card number, and you complete your transaction without ever speaking to a real person.

Fifteen years ago, I embraced new technology with a degree of enthusiasm. Now I find myself set in my ways and suspicious of anything new that requires me to change my usual habits.

I guess I’m getting old. Maybe it’s time for the cardis and the tartan slippers with zips!

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1 comment so far

  1. Clair Dickson on

    As a grumpy antisocial person, I love the self-checkouts. But you’re absolutely correct in that they are all about cutting costs. (I worked in retail for 11 years– nothing is really about the customer, trust me. =)

    The secret is to learn how the machine works. It’s all done one weights. (The bagging area is a scale). It has to look up the weight of the item you scanned and match it to the weight on the scale. Dropping items in a bag– bad. I rarely use a regular cashier anymore. But I also hate slow, talky cashiers far more than slow stupid computers. =)


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