Let Me Show You How!

Self-check

Let me preface this by saying I have used self checkout lanes at Wal-mart, Meijers, Menards, and probably one or two other stores. I know how they work, I know how to use them, and I hate them just the same. I will get into why I hate them in a minute. For now lets just say there is a reason I am writing this post.

I just got back from Wal-mart, I thought I would grab a few items before the weekend. I made my way to one of the check out lines and was standing there minding my own business waiting till it was my turn to unload my cart. After a few seconds a woman walked up to me and said "Sir, I can check you out over here." So I followed her thinking maybe she just opened up and line and I was going to be the first one through. Nope.  She tried to lead me over to the self checkout lanes. 

I stopped when I realized where she was leading me and said "No thanks."

She turned to me and said "Don't worry I can show you how they work."

"Nope, that's okay" I said.

The she got very serious and said "Let me show you how!"

Seriously? To that I said "No thanks, I've used them before and I hate using those things."

She then continued with "These are the new ones, and they work a lot better."

Which made me say "I didn't have issues using the old ones, I just refuse to use the self checkouts" and headed back to the real checkouts to find I was now three people further back than when I started.

She then came over and asked the amusing question of "What can we do to get you to use the self checkout?"

I answered the way I actually feel about these things: "Give me a discount when I self check, and I will use them all day long."

She looked confused with that and wandered away.

So, that is what brings me to this post. I was just learning to drive when gas stations were moving from full-service to self-service. During the transition you could have someone pump gas for you, check your oil level, and wash your windshield; or you could pump your own gas and you saved 2 - 3¢ a gallon. It wasn't a lot, but it made sense, since they were providing less of a service to you, it cost you less money.

The stores that want you to use the self checkouts are not doing this as a convenience to you to save you time. That may be how they are trying to sell the idea, but in the long run it is to help their bottom line. Less staffing, means less payroll and less benefits they have to payout. This is because you become that employee for the few minutes you use the self check. So they are providing you less service, you are usually not enjoying the experience and yet they are charging you the exact same amount. I also find it irritating that there are one or two employees standing around making sure you are using the checkout correctly. Employees who could have just as easily checked you out in a traditional checkout faster than you can do it yourself.

So even though I know this will fall on deaf ears, and no retail outlet CEO, CFO, VP, or VIP for that matter will ever see this post, but if one of them ever does, think about this: The $6 - $20 an hour you are saving by trying to get me to ring up and bag my own groceries would be a lot easier to swallow if you gave me a 2 - 3% discount at the self checkouts. Something tells me a lot more people would be willing to use them if that was the case. Give me a reason to do the work myself. Hell, rename the lines from self check to self-service, and call the other lines full-service. But without the price difference, I will still always go to the traditional checkouts.

If I wanted to shop without the personal interactions that you are supposed to have when you go to a brick and mortar store, then I would just do all of my shopping on-line and avoid the stores all together. 

Amusingly many stores with self-checkouts are noticing a rise in shoplifting at the self checks. Who knew people cannot be trusted to scan every item in their cart before they put it in the bag?