Frozen Caveman Lawyer meets Walmart's "Self Checkout"

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Anybody been to Walmart, lately? Today, I noticed something new. They got "self-checkout" counters. That's right- you literally walk up, run your own stuff through the scanner, bag it, and pay (using the usual pay card options). It was novel entertainment as I was doing it, thinking, "Look'a'me, I'm a checkout counter cashier!" At the same time, I imagine there were angry darts coming my way as the official checkout cashiers nearby notice me using the new machine.



It was an odd, mixed up experience I felt. On the one hand, I blasted through there, no line, can't really complain about how fast or how slow I scanned my own stuff. Seems to be a most efficient approach. While on the other hand, I knew this was just wrong. Clearly, this is something that can threaten jobs of real people. I can't imagine those who are in that situation have a "good" feeling about this development. It raises the age-old question about where do you draw the line as to what is fair game and what isn't when it comes to replacing human-performed tasks as machine-performed tasks? I feel bad for the human cashiers, but I cannot deny the logistical elegance of self-checkout.



Perhaps the saving grace in this case is that you can argue that this need not displace any human employment. We are all aware of the lines in our favorite department stores where there are physically 15 lines, but never are there more than 8 ever manned. So these "self-checkout" lines are hypothetically putting additional lines back in action that would not have been manned anyway. We all could do with less lines, right? So this would seem to be a legitimate solution.



Would I use this technique again? I think I would (but there will always be a part of me that feels guilty).



So any thoughts from any'o'ya?
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    rokrok Posts: 3,519member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Randycat99

    Anybody been to Walmart, lately? Today, I noticed something new. They got "self-checkout" counters.



    our local home depot has been testing them for a while. they're intended for the truly express customers who have like, four nails and a can of raid to buy and don't want to be stuck behind the guy with a palette of timber.



    it's nothing new. hell, kinko's has nearly perfected the "pay-at-the-pump" technique for their self-serve copiers. ever notice how you can go in a kinko's now and never actually talk to anyone?
  • Reply 2 of 40
    drewpropsdrewprops Posts: 2,321member
    They were testing similar machines ten years ago at a Kroger's a few miles from my house. They had them about six months and then they were gone. When they returned they had them in downtown locations and everybody was wowed. It made me feel like we'd been part of secret government experiments.



    Anyway, the droid-ification of the world is in full swing.
  • Reply 3 of 40
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    The grocery stores here have had these for a couple of years. I'm all for them, after years of smashed groceries thanks to hamhanded baggers, standing in line with two small items behind mothers with full carts, cashiers who can't make change or mis-ring items on a regular basis...



    I'm out of there quicker, I'm ensured that if anything is smashed I have only myself to blame, and my change is always correct. What's not to like?
  • Reply 4 of 40
    glyphglyph Posts: 58member
    i always thought machines were supposed to replace humans so that humans can live in leisure. don't feel bad about taking away somebody`s job, feel bad that we don't have sense of community where our welfare is secured regardless of economic demand.
  • Reply 5 of 40
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    The self check out is SLOW. The scanners don't work so well. Produce takes forever because the dolt minding the whole thing has to punch in the code. Then you have customers taking their own sweat time to check three ****ing items. I skip if if there's a line and/or I have more than one item.



    Worst part is the reduce the number of regular checkout people creating longer lines and forcing you to the self checkout.
  • Reply 6 of 40
    brbr Posts: 8,395member
    Good. Maybe people will start valuing an education if these retard jobs go away.
  • Reply 7 of 40
    fellowshipfellowship Posts: 5,038member
    It is not lost jobs that is sad so much as the fact that people are more isolated with the advent of this kind of use of machines.



    Part of the appeal of going to Starbucks to get a coffee is the whole "hand crafted" human interaction of it all.



    I mean if you walked into a Starbucks and walked up to a machine that said insert bank card or cash here and select product 1-25 and wait for a machine to make the drink I think Starbucks would not be as warm a place to visit.



    I don't know what do you think?



    Fellows
  • Reply 8 of 40
    glyphglyph Posts: 58member
    i tried the self check-out when i first noticed them......i thought it was cool. but i like going thru the regular check-outs for some reason. i like to scan the check-outs and see who's moving the fastest as i'm approaching. i can't stand being in a line where the checker doesn't know what she's doing.
  • Reply 9 of 40
    thuh freakthuh freak Posts: 2,664member
    i haven't seen that remarkable marvel of the modern era, but i've encountered something (i presume is) similar. in the city, a few years ago, they fazed out subway/bus tokens for plastic "metrocards", which magnetically hold various amounts of money for your intra-city travelling pleasure. this gave way for the metrocard vends. right next to the person-manned counter is 2-10 or more metrovends, pushing out the same cards the counter gives. if you're savvy, the metrovend is a very quick and easy procedure, while person-to-person requires the rigors of speaking and having the slack-jaw interpret my words. when they were knew, i noticed flyers around the subways saying things like "boycott the machines" and "people are losing their jobs over this" and such. i made a point of going to people to get my card(s) for a while. well, for like a week. now i wait on a metrovend line regardless of length. its always faster than a person. people gotta stay competitive. they don't offer any particular value at that juncture, atleast not that i notice.
  • Reply 10 of 40
    randycat99randycat99 Posts: 1,919member
    Well, I think this suggests an interesting social experiment. IMO, I think Starbucks would realize it could not pull that off and still have the same kind of business they started with. The interesting part is if an automated coffee parlor pops up under a different name that offers equally good coffee and cuts prices by 50%, I wonder if people would flock to it...
  • Reply 11 of 40
    randycat99randycat99 Posts: 1,919member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by thuh Freak

    i haven't seen that remarkable marvel of the modern era, but i've encountered something (i presume is) similar. in the city, a few years ago, they fazed out subway/bus tokens for plastic "metrocards", which magnetically hold various amounts of money for your intra-city travelling pleasure. this gave way for the metrocard vends. right next to the person-manned counter is 2-10 or more metrovends, pushing out the same cards the counter gives.



    Similarly, I much prefer breezing through my transaction with automated movie ticket machines, rather than stand in line for the manned stations. It never occurred to me to feel guilt because standing in lines to see a movie is just not cool. Don't have to worry about cash, don't have to worry about change, don't have to feel guilty for presenting a credit card when others use cash- I just use the machine and slide my card.



    I'll tell you who really needs express self-check out lines- Costco and Sams Club. Those lines are ridiculous! Yet people put up with it, and all lines are running anyway. I just don't understand how the lines can be that long there.
  • Reply 12 of 40
    fellowshipfellowship Posts: 5,038member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Randycat99

    Well, I think this suggests an interesting social experiment. IMO, I think Starbucks would realize it could not pull that off and still have the same kind of business they started with. The interesting part is if an automated coffee parlor pops up under a different name that offers equally good coffee and cuts prices by 50%, I wonder if people would flock to it...



    I am all for the use of technology and things being efficient and done in a manner of good productivity. That said,,, A good restaurant where food is prepared fresh by real chefs and with good service will always provide a better product / service than McDonalds where they have every kind of technology to make the process of serving "food" fast and efficient.



    Machines, Fast and Efficient does not always equal quality, service, or a high standard of living or enjoyment.



    In our fast paced world many of us live within I am not so sure that getting back to basics and taking time to smell the roses is not what we really need as opposed to driving through drive-thru's going to ATM machines and self checking groceries and building supplies.



    who knows,



    Fellows
  • Reply 13 of 40
    randycat99randycat99 Posts: 1,919member
    I'd say ATM machines are a legitimate improvement. You won't be smelling any roses if you still had to stand in line at the bank (assuming you were able to get inside one during banking hours).



    As for building supplies and department store goods, I still don't think "personal contact" is that compelling for those particular environments. It can be nice, but does it really matter, either way?



    Naturally, there are certain service commodities where personal contact is something to perpetuate. There, I would agree with you. Restaurants and coffee bars, I would agree benefit greatly from a real human interface.
  • Reply 14 of 40
    fellowshipfellowship Posts: 5,038member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Randycat99

    I'd say ATM machines are a legitimate improvement. You won't be smelling any roses if you still had to stand in line at the bank (assuming you were able to get inside one during banking hours).



    As for building supplies and department store goods, I still don't think "personal contact" is that compelling for those particular environments. It can be nice, but does it really matter, either way?



    Naturally, there are certain service commodities where personal contact is something to perpetuate. There, I would agree with you. Restaurants and coffee bars, I would agree benefit greatly from a real human interface.




    Actually I agree 100% with your statements here



    Fellows
  • Reply 15 of 40
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BR

    Good. Maybe people will start valuing an education if these retard jobs go away.



    Funny, I have an education and I am working a retard job. I am pretty sure that what I've got (mostly cashiering & Barnes & Noble) will stick around for a while. 80% of what I scan I have to key in a price or ISBN...



    But technology seems to be getting the better of us...ironic.



    BR - Don't think that ALL the retard jobs are done by retards too. We're just "unemployed".



  • Reply 16 of 40
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    One think I noticed driving on the Indiana Toll Road is that the human operated booths are much faster than the automatic basket kind. You can pass 50 cents to someone and hit the gas faster than you can wait for a machine to count two quarters and signal the gate to go up. Also the line with two trucks will go faster than the line with 7 cars.
  • Reply 17 of 40
    brbr Posts: 8,395member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Artman @_@

    Funny, I have an education and I am working a retard job. I am pretty sure that what I've got (mostly cashiering & Barnes & Noble) will stick around for a while. 80% of what I scan I have to key in a price or ISBN...



    But technology seems to be getting the better of us...ironic.



    BR - Don't think that ALL the retard jobs are done by retards too. We're just "unemployed".







    Right. Some of the retard jobs will go away and the intelligent unemployed will be more qualified to take the rest of them. Service gets better overall.
  • Reply 18 of 40
    chinneychinney Posts: 1,019member
    I think that we should find a way to automate our posts on AI. Then we could all be doing something else while we were posting.
  • Reply 19 of 40
    cosmonutcosmonut Posts: 4,872member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Randycat99

    Similarly, I much prefer breezing through my transaction with automated movie ticket machines, rather than stand in line for the manned stations.



    I wholeheartedly agree! I haven't stood in line for more than 2 minutes in the last few years to buy movie tickets. I either order them online and redeem them at the automated machine, or fly by all the lines and go to the machine for everything.



    And every time I walk by all the lines at the box office (the automated machines are farther into the theater) I think to myself, "Why don't they just use the A.B.O.? They can't ALL be using cash, can they?"



    As far as the automated cashiers at Wal-mart, etc., I only use them if I have a few small items that are easy to scan myself and then head out of there. Over Christmas I bought a LOT of stuff at Wal-mart using one of those things and it took quite a while -- the attending employee had to come over and fix a couple things. I actually felt worse for all the people behind me because I was being the slow person instead of a cashier.



    Plus, I think it's more pleasurable to talk with a cashier while they're ringing up a large number of items. With only a few items, who cares. You're not there long enough anyway, so the automated systems are fine for that.
  • Reply 20 of 40
    ast3r3xast3r3x Posts: 5,012member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Scott

    One think I noticed driving on the Indiana Toll Road is that the human operated booths are much faster than the automatic basket kind. You can pass 50 cents to someone and hit the gas faster than you can wait for a machine to count two quarters and signal the gate to go up. Also the line with two trucks will go faster than the line with 7 cars.



    That is why there is E-Z Pass!



    Although I've been in a car with a girl (does it matter? probably) who is used ot having it in her other cards she drives but not the one she was driving and sped through the E-Z Pass and had to pay the full $15 or so at the toll we got off at which was only like 2 or 3 down.
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