February 25, 2013

Self-Service Checkouts: So Last Year

Finally, the penny has dropped. Since their installation in many of the larger supermarkets, I have avoided the new-fangled, self-service checkouts, in the same way I've managed to avoid using drive-through car washes. 
Is there a psychological classification, for people who fear that once they enter those enclosed, automatic car wash cubicles, they won't get out alive, and will be scooped up and devoured by gigantic, swirling, industrial strength cleaning brushes?  It'd be like being tackled and eaten up by a giant squid. Never to be seen again.



As for self-service checkouts, my initial fear was appearing inept in front of early-adopter show-offs. There's also the scary aspect of having to engage in one-sided communication with an automated monotone voice, that regularly repeats the phrase: "unexpected item in the bagging area"! 

Again, call me an uber-visigoth, but I also hate and refuse to use one of those GPS units. Who wants to listen to an overly authoritative, automated voice, when you can have the visual clarity, silence, and simplicity of a tactile (and magnificently unplugged) Melway street directory. 

Worse still, is being a passenger in a car, where the driver persists in ignoring your "face-to-face" directions, and tells you to shut-up! so they can obediently follow the (often incorrect instructions) issued by a robotic voice - courtesy of Navman.  

But don't get me wrong. I'm not a total luddite. I use matches, love the wireless, and haven't pop-up toasters, and pantyhose taken off in a big way?!



Writing in BBC News Magazine about the benefits and disadvantages of self-service checkouts, Dennis Winterman has said there are particular groups of people who love using them, because they've always: "Secretly hankered after trying their hand as a checkout chick".

That's me. He has it in a nutshell.  However,  it's only since my move into op-shopery, and subsequent training in using a manual cash register, that I've become a born-again, self-service checkout fanatic. I see using them as a practical way of expanding my point of sale skill set (now that most Victorian Tafe courses have closed their doors), increasing my retail employability, and overcoming another digital hurdle. 

However, what if the scanner fails?
Is there a nearby gadget that enables us to call our own "price check"?


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