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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Unexpected item in the bagging area"

Self service checkouts were in the news today. Apparently the retailers are introducing more of them because they reduce their costs. But consumers are less keen.

I didn't like the way that the reports implied that consumers have problems using the check outs, and are entirely responsible for delays.

I nearly always use the self service check outs, except if I have a lot of shopping.  I like to save time. I'm pretty fast at scanning the items and looking up prices for loose vegetables or fruit.

But let's go through one of my recent transactions, in Sainsbury's.

First.  "We need to verify your bags."  I always take my own bags, but with a self service checkout, this is actually a bad thing. Why the bags need to be verified I do not know, because if you're paying at a normal check out, someone doesn't peer into your bag to see if you have stolen something. Anyway, have to wait for the assistant.

Second.  The type of baked good I had selected was a loose item, with no bar code, and wasn't listed on the look up guide.  You either have to take the risk of selecting something similar, or wait for the assistant.

Third. A bottle of wine. Have to wait for the assistant.

Four. I'd picked up one of those multi-pack magazine offers. It was obviously heavier than the machinery was expecting because it became an "Unexpected Item in the Bagging Area" and, yes, I had to wait for the assistant.

Finally, I had a Brand Match coupon for six pounds. The check out refused to take it. The assistant explained they have to code them through if they are over a certain amount.

By now I had given up the will to live. I'm not surprised that one in three of us walks out of a store, abandoning their purchases, because of a bad experience.

As you can see, none of these problems were "my" fault.  I suggest to the retailers that if they intend to bulldoze these systems into the stores, they need to improve the technology.  Cameras and recognition systems and more real-time updating of stock.


Peter Sive said...

I hate those damn things. I often end up shouting at the infuriating smug voice.

Jay said...

I've had more conversations with the assistant at a self service til than at an ordinary one - never saves any time when they have to authorise every other item!