The Daily Ping

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June 19th, 2004

Self-Checkout Lines Aren’t That Bad

Last year, Paul expressed his displeasure with self-checkout lines. At the Giant supermarket near my house, they recently installed a number of self-checkout lines and I’ve used them twice, both with general success.

One of the interesting comments Paul made was that he noticed even when the store was crowded, that people opted to wait in a long line rather than check themselves out. Yesterday, I was very surprised to see that in a somewhat crowded store, only one regular lane was open (not counting a couple of express lanes) and while that line was pretty long, each of the five or six self-checkout lines had one or two people in them. I had a pretty big haul, but figured I could make it through the self-checkout without much problem. And I did, for the most part.

The touch-screen interface is relatively intuitive and even when searching for vegetable codes, it’s pretty painless. Something I noticed, though, was that if there was someone behind me, I started getting performance anxiety. I started moving faster and rushing a bit. When someone else is scanning your items, you can’t speed them along, so you don’t feel rushed by the next person in line. But when you’re doing it yourself, you know you’re the only person between them and eating their Oreos in their car.

I did run into a few problems, however. The first time I used the self-scanner I had to go to customer service because an incorrect price rang up on an item. This one’s not the fault of the self-scanner, though, since it would have come up that way in any of the lanes. The second time, it wouldn’t take either of my coupons. I went to the customer service counter again and showed them the items on my receipt and they handed me my $1.75 in cash.

So while I miss the interaction with some of my favorite checkout people (I’m still lamenting the loss of Happy Bill), the self-checkout line worked pretty well from a functionality standpoint. I think they installed a few too many (three would have been sufficient), but hey, they seem to be in pretty heavy use.

Posted in Consumer Commentary

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