Mixed Blessing of Self-Service Kiosks


They offer such an attractive prospect, being able to check your purchases and pay for them without the need for a cashier. This promise of convenience and expediancy often turns out to be an illusion to me. A mirage that peels away into the reality that most times these self-service kiosks are more tedious & infuriating then dealing with a human cashier.

There are occasions and scenarios where the self-service kiosks are fantastic. At the airport, I have had great fortune in dealing with the e-ticket kiosks. The lines for these kiosks are usually much shorter and the kiosks are usually much faster then the ticket clerks. Those kiosks are usually my one highlight of my air travel experiences, sadly.

Those occasional happy experiences aside, the majority of my self-service computer cashier experiences have been infuriating. When they started putting them in my local grocery store I was initially quite excited. “Very cool”, I thought, “Finally some 21st century tech in my grocery store.” So I waited in line that first time very understanding to the people figuring out this new way of paying for their groceries. “Hey, it’s new. Folks’ll get used to it and this is going to rock. Much more convenient then the express line.”

WELL, it’s been more than a year now…and people still take forever! C’mon people, honestly, if you don’t know how to identify and weigh your produce at the self-service kiosk don’t use it. If you can’t figure out where to sign for your credit payment, DON’T USE IT. And please parents keep Junior out of the process so you don’t need the store assistant to come by and erase double or triple scanned items.

And then I’ve had my own wrestling matches with these kiosks. For example the wonderful times the weight sensor under the conveyor belt can’t “feel” me putting an item on the belt and sends it backwards asking me to rescan..over and over again. There is also the jerky customer that comes after me who proceeds to scan and send down his watermelon and soda cases, while I haven’t finished bagging my eggs and bread, I guess he couldn’t spare the additional 20 seconds it would’ve taken me to finish packing my bags.

The last time I was at the store I did notice that the allure of the self-service kiosks has greatly reduced the express checkout line. So that’s where I went, back to the ol’ 15 items or Less express line with a human-being checking the groceries. The express line was now a great experience, a short line and a fast checkout process…so maybe modern tech has given me some benefit after all.

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3 thoughts on “Mixed Blessing of Self-Service Kiosks

  1. Our Home Depot here closes all lines except for the self-service ones most of the time. That’s not really a good place to have all live cashier lines closed, considering most of their items are oversized and don’t fit on the scale. One day while Fred was off the island for work, I loaded up both kids and went for a new floor lamp (big box), a big rug for the kids play area & other misc items. Boy, was I surprised when the only line with a worker was the one for contractors-only! Amazingly, me with the two little kids and big items managed to scan & pay without a glitch & boy was it a workout. I also managed to keep curious little Zoe away from the computer & scanner – I agree, not the place for them to play!

  2. Yeah the customer service at Home Depot never fails to disappoint. Of all places that is not the kind of store that should rely solely on self-service checkout.

    A floor lamp, rug and with two kids in tow, most impressive. Those kind of skills are not present in most of the people that do the self-check out around here.

    And yes, I am a grouch. So what’s it to ya??

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