The impact of new technology can come at you from time to time.
When I first saw self-checkout machines in supermarkets, I thought they weren’t just for me and would please people buying a thing or two.
Gradually, however, I experienced regressive feelings about this predicament of replacing humans with (imperfect) technology.
I had a bad experience whenever I was forced to self check out at Heathrow Airport.
In any case, the machine will never accept payment without the help of a store associate.
It was then that I began to think that some humans were actively rebelling, seeing pictures of long lines of customers ignoring self-checkout counters while waiting for human cashiers.
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Next, we learned that some supermarket chains are getting rid of self-checkouts because too many customers are buying unpaid merchandise.
What’s more, other supermarket chains are now staffing self-checkouts to make sure they actually paid.
I kept wondering what was wrong with this photo. Why are all these great supermarkets suddenly lacking in human trust?
Going to the human cashier is often faster. Because they are good at what they do, know all the codes for produce, and even pack for you.
Going to self checkout simply means trying the job without any prior training.
But now there’s another microscopic wheeze at the hypermarket chain. British chain Sainsbury’s (which is pretty posh on a nice day) has put up barriers after customers finish self-checkout.
As reported by the Manchester Evening News, self-checkouts are now required to scan receipts before leaving the building.
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Imagine the shopper’s frustration. Self checkout is faster. Now, there’s one more thing shoppers need to remember to get the job done.
Let’s hear from one disgruntled Sainsbury customer. [people] Hostages against their will because everyone refuses to let people leave without scanning receipts they didn’t choose to get in the first place. What are they going to do? Are you holding someone hostage and going through their bags before they can free you?”
Probably so. Perhaps they should hire full-time self-checkout security staff who will be paid more than they pay the cashier.
Of course, I can understand retailers trying to cut costs using technology. Supermarket retail is a low-margin business. Wal-Mart is threatening to close stores because of increased theft.
Moreover, Sainsbury’s claims that this is “not a new security measure and feature found in a handful of stores at self-service checkout.” (I wonder how the company chose a store that can receive such good service.)
Too often, technology is used to turn customers into employees without giving them enough benefit.
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Isn’t it pointless irony to put up barriers that prevent customers from doing so while claiming to provide a way for customers to leave sooner?
Technology should always provide uplifting psychological benefits. But here’s the exact opposite. Doesn’t going to the cashier feel more psychologically liberating? More human.
Oh, but maybe this is just a hiccup. Soon, our hands will have tiny chips that can identify us personally. This will charge your credit card directly when you scan.
And let’s not forget, the supermarket will know exactly where we live. Just in case, you understand.