Saturday, July 9, 2011

Please don't make me talk to people.

I have a confession to make. I don't really like people. And one of my biggest pet peeves is inefficiency. So despite my love of shopping, checking out is one of my least favorite things to do. Maybe not so much when I'm in a boutique and I've been helped by the clerk who is now handling my transaction and we've got a conversation going. But at Target or the book store or the grocery store, I get annoyed. I don't want to wait in line. I don't want to wait there while a sales clerk takes his or her sweet time or doesn't bag things in the most efficient way. And I really don't want to hear the sales pitch for why I should get a credit card or donate a dollar to the cause of the day* or whatever.

So I love, love, love self check-out. Love it! I'm faster than most check-out workers and I know I'll bag my things in a way that makes the most sense. (Yes, I realize I'm making myself sound a tad like a high-maintenance bitch, but I prefer to think I sound charmingly neurotic a la Sally Albright.) I would also really love it if some coffee shop would open up a self-service espresso machine because I'm an experienced barista and can get a little annoyed if someone doesn't observe proper barista protocol while making my latte. But I digress.

Because it's really best for all concerned that I do self check-out whenever possible, I am really glad I don't have to shop at Albertson's. They are phasing out self check-out! This article indicates that my grocery corporate chain, Kroger, is looking at phasing out self check-out in one of its Texas stores. Please don't bring that experiment to Kansas! Don't force me to have more human contact with strangers! There are days when the barista or the grocery store check-out person is the only person I speak to all day. On those days, I have no objection to going through a proper check-out line and getting my human contact. But there are other days, days when I am not fit to speak to people or days when I've just had an aggravating meeting or days when I'm just not in the mood to spend one second longer than I need to inside. And on those days, I really need the option of going in and getting out without speaking to anyone. (And, to be honest, there are some items one might prefer to purchase without having to hand those items over to another person who will then know what one is buying.)

How do you all feel about self check-out?

*I donate plenty of money and things to charity, but I don't like to do it in dribs and drabs like at the checkout counter.


FURBOLL said...

I usually just read your blog without commenting, but with this posting you brought me out of my shell. I hate check out myself. I try not to use the clerks unless I have a lot of groceries and I don't want to bag them myself. Along with the points you mentioned, I blogged about a few of them too. Most of the times when I am at the store, the clerks are too busy talking to each other and not paying attention to what they are doing. Either that or they will have 12 check out lines but only 4 of them are actually open. Before anyone considers clicking on the links, I warning you that I use what would be deemed inappropraite language on my blog

S said...

Thanks for the comment! I agree with your additions that the chatting and the number of closed lines are other reasons to prefer self check-out.

As for the language, don't ever worry about that! Sometimes my clients slip a swear word and they immediately look chagrined, so I always assure them that I swear like a fuckin' sailor. Always makes 'em smile! We public defenders are not known for our genteel sensibilities.

Nance said...

I detest self-checkout, and I am not a big small-talker and dislike strangers who call me "hon" when I am a 52-year old woman. I also do not appreciate having to pick out all my groceries, haul them to the car, then haul them inside and put them away, only to prepare and clean up after them later.

All this effort is only made worse if I had to do all that PLUS scan and bag them, in effect doing someone else's job, yet paying the same amount for said groceries. What a lot of bullshit. If they want me to do their work, at least toss me a pittance of savings, like 2% off my bill.

Additionally, this self-checking is taking someone's job. This is the other side of why there are twelve lines available and only four open. These huge stores are saving on labor costs by cutting staff. No wonder the economy is in the dumps. The savings are certainly not passed on to the consumer by way of lower food prices. Remember when gas was over 4 bucks a gallon? Food prices rose then, and that was the reason. Fuel costs leveled off, then went down. Did we see prices do the same across the board? No. Food containers got smaller, so we got less for our money.

Self checkout is part of the problem, not a solution.

Lisa Johnson said...

I actually blogged about this at the beginning of the year. I'd rather not check myself out, because it's annoying and mostly because it's eliminating jobs. We have far too few jobs in this country as it is.

S said...

I don't see how the self check-out machines at my grocery store are eliminating jobs. There is a person who works at that station. If my grocery store eliminated those 4 machines, they wouldn't open 4 full-service lanes. They would open 1. So no job stolen there.

In addition, there are the jobs of creating, building, and servicing the machines. The software programming.

BellsforStacy said...

Used to like self check out for the one and two items I'd buy at places, but for big trips I didn't like it.

I hate it now. I hate how it's always bitching at me about putting my item in a bag. I hate how if the weight is off by an ounce or something it's 5 minutes of waiting for the one person manning the four or 6 stations to help me out. And forget purchasing alcohol at said places.

Add to all of that having a child with me and it's a nonstarter.

Plus, I agree with the other poster who said I should get a discount for bagging my own stuff.

I don't like people either, and I completely understand your post and your feelings. But if Kroger (the absolute WORST self check out experience ever) gets rid of self check out that'll be a good day.

If I have a lot of stuff to buy, I've been known to go to Market Street, where things are marginally more expensive but where they carefully bag everything for you, empty the cart for you, and put the bags in the car for you. The service is worth the extra money (sometimes).

BellsforStacy said...

But @Lisa - I love self service at the library. The machines here are awesome. I just scan my card, set my books on the table (all of them in one pile!) and it gets them all, magically, somehow. I have no idea how but it's amazing.

We usually only have two librarians manning the check out counter, and now there are four self check outs and still two librarians. So I have not seen a loss of jobs there, so far.

Ortizzle said...

I love self check-out, and I agree that since someone has to be in the vicinity to help out if the machine does something odd, it doesn't really eliminate a job. Self check-out means stuff gets bagged up with 3 bags instead of 23bags (1 for each item), or my recycle bags (a pain to use at the regular check-out). But the main reason for me is that I just don't want to be forced to make stupid small talk, asked if "I found everything OK" (an ambiguous question), or having small items left out of the bag and not discovered until I get home, and then I don't have a critical ingredient for a meal I want to make that night. Or whatever. So hooray for self check-out.

S said...

Stacy, we can't buy alcohol (well real alcohol) at grocery stores, so that's not an issue. And I've never had a problem with our Kroger-owned subsidiary check-outs. If I'm buying a cart-full of groceries, I'm much more likely to go to a full-service check-out lane. I don't even mind that experience if they bag my stuff sensibly. But when they put my chicken and the bug spray in the same bag, I get kinda peevish.

It really does depend on my mood, but when I'm just going for a few things or I'm buying one thing on my way to work (especially if it's tampons), I just want to check myself out without dealing with anyone.

But I'm the misanthrope who also hates it when the boutique sales clerk yells out, "Thanks for coming in!" as I'm leaving.

BellsforStacy said...

One thing I do find irritating about any check-out situation is when they say your total real loud. That bothers me A LOT.

S said...

What about when the pharmacist loudly asks if [insert type of drug] is what you're here to pick up? I don't care for that.

Rob Osterman said...

I'll see you your "phramacist shouting your perscription" and raise you a "Knowing look from phramacist when it's birth control you're picking up".

Its almost like you can see him running some bad porno soundtrack in his head.....

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