Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just leave me alone


I'm one of those people who truly enjoys grocery shopping, and I've liked it even more since the store I frequent installed the self-checkout aisles. I have one lingering problem, however. Even though I choose to do it myself, store employees are forever trying to pitch in, whether by scanning my groceries for me while I'm at the other end bagging or, even worse, by trying to bag my groceries for me. One reason why I choose the self-service option is that I'd rather not stand there while a checkout person examines my every item as if they have just been handed the Shroud of Turin. Second, I want to bag my own groceries because, for one thing, I can put items in the bags in a way that will make it easier for me to put them away, and I also am not prone to putting a 15-pound ham on top of a loaf of Wonder bread. The other good thing about the self-checkout lines is that they're used by a relative few shoppers. Members of the over-70 set will stand in regular lines that stretch back into the food shelves before they would think of trying those new-fangled grocery scanners. I'm fine with that. In fact, I think people - sorry, but especially the elderly - should be tested before they are allowed to use the self-checkout lines, just to make sure they can proceed at an acceptable speed and are capable of mastering that "futuristic" technology. In the meantime, I beseech the store employees to actually let me do it myself.

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16 Comments:

Anonymous the x anonymous one said...

Nice. Kick the elderly for getting in the self check out line. Myself wonder why Wal Mart can' pay me for checking out my own stuff. That use to be a job for two people. School kids, mom's, grandma's use to do those kind of jobs.

Instead of someone in your town/city knowing what kind of creams you use, you would rather do it yourself? I hate going to the airport and giving them full body scans of my body. Now that is physco!

September 30, 2009 at 2:46 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

While we are at it... can we maybe make the self-checkout technology a little less touchy?

I bought two new garbage cans at Home Depot this past weekend and used the self-checkout... Apparently, after you scan something, the machine expects you to set it down on the platform to the right of the scanner. If you don't put something on the platform, it yells at you... So, I had to scan and then hoist up two 50 gallon garbage cans onto a little table so that it would register... of course, now that I am recounting this adventure, I realize I could probably just push on the scale rather than actually putting something on it...

:-/

September 30, 2009 at 3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Giant Eagle stores are taking out the self-check lanes. The store at Donaldson Crossroads has removed them. I am supposing GE has/will taken/take them out of all stores. I suspect it is bad use of square footage. At the leasing rates, they must believe the area can be better used other ways. As pointed out, the self-check lanes are not truly self anyway, so they still need a paid employee on hand. That one person could undoubtedly handle more throughput than three or four self lanes.

Ellipses -- same experience at HD.

September 30, 2009 at 11:02 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I've had the opposite experience of Brant's in the self-checkout line. I frequently use them in the Kroger stores here. I also frequently buy wine, and when I pass it over the scanner, the system alerts the person manning the self-checkouts to card me. Trouble is, that person more often than not isn't around. He or she might be at the service desk or maybe helping someone bag on one of the regular lanes.

After that scare with the tomatoes last year, the system did the same thing with tomatoes...stopped in its tracks. I buy a lot of tomatoes too. Same deal with the person running the show.

I'm with Ellipses and making the machines less touchy/sensitive. I use one at a Wal Mart here that is so sensitive that by the time I actually am putting my debit card into the slot, I'm ready to put my foot through the screen at the same time. If you don't get the item in the bag immediately, it stops, asks if you want to bag the item or skip bagging, and then immediately stops and the person in charge has to come over and reset it. Same deal with carding me for my wine.

I read an article a few months ago discussing the self-service craze at airports, car rentals places, grocery stores, et al. The trend will continue, according to the article. It's just cheaper for the companies to do it. One person can do the work of four or more in most grocery stores and check-in kiosks at airports eliminate needing personnel all together. In a way, it's kind of ironic...customer service became paramount in importance years ago and now we're responsible for our own customer service.

October 1, 2009 at 12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ellipses . . . you have to put the item down on the platform at Home Depot. Each item must have a specific weight loaded into their computer software. I had an item leaning once and the full weight wasn't distributed on the platform and it yelled at me.

JD

October 1, 2009 at 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love self-checkout, just as I love self-service gasoline stations. I am amazed however, by how many shoppers seem not to know how to use a self-service checkout. You'd think that by now, people would know how to scan debit cards and push the correct buttons.

A word of warning -- if you're buying something as simple as cough syrup at a self-service checkout, be prepared for the machine to scream and demand ID to prove that you're not a 10-year old bent on getting high on it. This tends to be rather annoying when your head is splitting and you don't feel like dealing with anyone, let alone a grocery store clerk asking to see your driver's license. Taking this one step further, I wonder why they don't ask, before letting you fill up a portable gas can at GetGo, if you plan to use the gasoline for arson.

October 1, 2009 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

If they are going to let you check yourself out, they should make the process as simple as humanly possible... The way I see it, they are lucky that I'm not ringing up all my produce and "per pound" items as "Cabbage" (39 cents a pound) ...

October 1, 2009 at 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only thing I find annoying about the self checkout line is when you have produce and fruit. As an example, there are so many different types of onions I don't always know for sure what type I picked up. Also, the menu is set up alphabetically, and are green peppers under "G" for green or "P" for peppers. Other than that, I agree I like the self checkout.

October 1, 2009 at 5:13 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

Chuckle chuckle. If men would only read directions. There is a button to choose non bagable items such as dog food and lumber at HD. I have used it, it does exist. But my hubby says not to use the self check out unless I am in a hurry and have only a few items, he doesn't want me to put someone out of a job.

October 2, 2009 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger MJ said...

PriGuy: Do you live in West Virginia? I don't know of any Kroger's in Pennsylvania.

And I hate when I see a person with a buggy full of groceries trying to self-check. If you have a couple of things, fine... but if you're going on a week-long family food excursion, please move your cart to Peggy Sue in Aisle 2.

October 3, 2009 at 11:42 PM  
Anonymous the x anonymous one said...

I guess you could consider pay at the pump self check out also.

I miss the full service gas stations. I remember way back in the day when we ran over the rubber hose and the bell would ring. A person would run out, come to your window, ask how much and what grade. Then clean your windshield off for you. Ask if you wanted your fluids checked, by the time he checked your windshield fluid and oil, your car was filled. He took your cash and it didn't cost a penny more. We all knew the man pumping the gas, had a friendly chat for a couple mins to catch up things and on your way. Now a days I have found out people don't even talk to their neighbors anymore. We all sold out to a bunch of SHEETZ.

Where they get you is if you go into the store. It is cheaper to buy a 2 liter of Coke then it is to buy the small 24oz! That burns me up! Can you still get a can of Coke at Peachins for a quarter?

The self check out line has it's pros and cons. I only use them when I have a few items. I would love to see Wal-Mart have a CHECK only line. Everyone that writes checks at Wal-Mart should have to suffer in the same line.

Self check out is a way for a company to offer less service for the same price! Just like the first burger joint that found out if you write thank you on the garbage cans people would throw away their own trash. That use to be somebodys job, cleaning up after you. Not anymore, we get some slackjaw cleaning the tables with a rag that looks like it just got done cleaning the bathrooms. Your lucky if the slackjaw cleans the tables every hr.

I'm a fan of history, and the progress we think we are making is really taking 5 steps back.

sorry so long!!!

October 5, 2009 at 1:16 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

Couldn't agree more about the checks. If you want to use the slowest form of payment, you should get the slowest line, because I guarantee you it's not the fast-moving kids who are writing checks. When I worked in retail some years ago, there was a regular customer who took literally several minutes to fill out a check, and she always wrote "paid in full" in the comment area, I guess just in case the grocer decided to come back later and claim she hadn't paid for a bag of frozen peas. I also miss the old filling stations. My mother and aunt ran one in Claysville years ago. And I was thinking the other day about how far we have drifted from what is necessary and how pampered and out of touch with the basic necessities of live we have become, but that's an issue for another post.

October 5, 2009 at 6:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many of the posts here discuss saving time, doing a transaction quicker, and the like.

Why all the concern about time? What will be done with the time saved by following a shopper with a credit card, over against following one writing a check? People now have so much free time. Work weeks are shorter than ever. Yes, some people are working two jobs and may be pressed, but in the general case, people are rushing to and fro, just to be quicker. For what end? Get home to watch more TV? Get to the bar for more drinking time? It is not for people to get home for more sleep - hours of sleep continues to drop, leaving more people with sleep deprivation.

I suggest we've lost track of ourselves, hustling around, just to make us look busy, frantic and important. Waiting in line for an added 15 seconds while somebody writes a check has to be very, very, very low on the importance scale of use of time.

October 5, 2009 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I live in Virginia, MJ. I miss the old filling stations too, Brant. I remember once when I was about six...my dad used to go to an Esso station (later Exxon) and in addition to having someone pump gas for you, you got your oil checked and windshield cleaned.

I remember the station running a promotion that you could buy a full place setting (coffee cup, saucer & dinner plate) for like two bucks. I bought a set for my mother for Mother's Day. I was so proud! You can't do stuff like that anymore.

October 6, 2009 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger MJ said...

This isn't a bad thing, but there is such a disconnect with the different generations. I realize a lot of you guys loved the full service, but us youngins never grew up in that culture. Sometimes, I wish I did because it hearkens back to the "good ole days" where you could buy penny candy or catch a couple drive-in movies for less than a dollar. But I personally would never want someone else to have to pump gas for me. I have arms and legs, and feel obligated to do it myself.

What is counter intuitive to my thinking is that I would prefer to have a cashier swipe my groceries for me (although I still prefer to bag my own stuff). Maybe my children and your grandchildren will one day think it's normal to scan your own groceries, and checks will be a thing of the past.

October 6, 2009 at 9:20 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

I feel for the older generation that has arthritis and find it difficult to squeeze the handle and hold it, or can not handle the cold bitter winds.
BTY It is illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon. It's a weird feeling when we have to fill up there on our way South.

October 8, 2009 at 8:22 PM  

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