Automated service is supposed to be quicker than personalized service. Automation removes one side of the human condition. It is one less person involved in the transaction. One less potential for distraction like chit-chat or mistake. While it worked initially for banks with automated teller machines, for all the promise it held, automation inevitably makes for a longer, more difficult experience in everyday retail.
As I stood trapped in line at the grocery store I realized just how bad it really is. Our store offers two types of automation in what are refered to as “fast lanes,” scan on the way and scan at the exit, however both use the same checkout lanes. We’re scan on the way people but the checkout lines being mixed were all taken up by scan at the exit people. And, none of them knew how to make the machines work. After watching the human cashier lines around us turn over completely, some of the other customers in line were becoming visibly frustrated, so I finally commented aloud to diffuse some of the tension:
These must be those tortoise fast lanes
The sympathetic person in front of me laughed but the person dilly dallying at the machine looked back with a scowl and as they called for assistance for the forth time (keeping the person hopping from line to line):
For the amount of time the cashier’s helper spent they should get multiple paychecks for handling multiple all this effort
That drew a smile from the helper and a few giggles from the rest of the scan on the way customers stuck in the lines as well as an angry mumble from the person causing our line to stall seemingly endlessly. As they called for assistance for the fifth time in what I think was their very next item I noted
mumbling doesn’t make this line move faster, you have gone to a regular cashier and saved every one time and effort
Thankfully, they didn’t reply, kept to themselves and completed scanning their like tenth and final item after what was, no joke, a ten minute affair. I absolutely would have changed lines except regular cashiers lanes are not set up to handle scan on the way customers…
Was I rude? Definitely. Was it warranted? Probably. And, it wouldn’t have been insulting had there been an actual issue with the computer or the store staff, but the error here was with the end-user and end-user error, well, that’s something I’m entirely too familiar (and mostly unsympathetic) to.
Was I rood? Yeah, definitely.