Wednesday, June 22, 2011

thoughts on self checkout lines

Whole Foods is probably my number one grocery store. I get all meats, veggies, cheese, fish, and assorted other tasties there.

However, Fred and I, we significantly support the Coca Cola corporation. He's a classic guy, me, I'm diet caffeine free. They don't sell these delicious concoctions at Whole Foods. What, sugar water, or alternatively, don't ask me whats in it cause I don't know water, isn't considered a Whole Food? boo.

I also buy things like Safeway brand fat free chocolate sorbet, which is addicting and maybe the best thing invented ever.

Also, coffee creamer. Hamburger buns. The bread at Whole Foods is , shall we say, lacking in the preservatives department. I can't eat 8 hamburger buns in the 2 days those things have before you see blue spots of mold. Martin's Potato buns it is. Yummy preservatives.

So, its established, I go to Safeway for a handful of things. When I go to Safeway, I usually use the self checkout. This causes me conflict and distress (okay not really, simply mild guilt). Why?

Loooking at the self checkout line, it seems apparent that me, you, and our neighbors would prefer to engage in checkout as a solitary activity. We seem to like this ability to avoid small talk, pleases and thank yous, and exchange of money with an actual person. Humans would appear to be rather antisocial when it comes to our groceries. We seem to be willing to endure all the "check bagging areas" and "unexpected item" and "Please wait for @%!#% assistance" pleas from these automated scanning machines. We accept this.

There are times when I will forego the self checkout. 1) More than about 10 items. 2) Wine or beer (the machine makes stand there like an idiot while someone usually younger than me comes to check and ensure that I have been 21 for 12 years. Besides, its much more fun to be carded by an actual person who can not believe you are a day over 19 than an indescriminate machine).

Use of the machines, though, it makes me feel guilty. You see, I like employment. I like for people to have employment options. By all visual accounts, Safeway would appear to be a decent employer. I want those checkout people to have jobs. Therefore, I need to actually use the real checkout lines, right? Right. But I don't. I succumb to the call of the no-human-contact required except when we don't work right and that poor soul responsible for addressing all the self checkout line issues has to come help you machines.

Here's something interesting I Whole Foods? They had self checkout lines. They took them out. Replaced them with express lanes. I'm willing to bet noone stopped shopping at Whole Foods in protest. We go with the flow. People adapt.

I'm sure its been written about extensively, but does anyone know what the benefit of these machines is intended to be? Is it convenience for the customer, reduced costs for the store, a little bit of both? How has it actually played out in cost reductions?

What about you? Do you find the old fashioned check out to be inconvenient or the self checkout to be annoying?

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