Thursday, September 26, 2013

Losing the self-checkout not much of loss; it slowed things up too often

Will this Jewel self-checkout device ...
I happen to live within one block of a Jewel-Osco supermarket, although not one of the ones that has had its self-checkout lanes taken away.

Which is a move that can’t come soon enough, as far as I’m concerned.

JEWEL OFFICIALS (THE chain is owned these days by Cerberus Capital Management) let it be known Wednesday that they’re going to gradually remove those self-checkout lines that – in theory – allow people to ring up the cost of their own grocery items.

It could be a time-saving move. I’ll be the first to admit to using the self-checkout lanes when all I have is a couple of items to buy. Which is often, because I tend to use the Jewel as a convenience store of sorts. It’s right by where I live.

If I have significant purchases, I often find myself going to other grocery stores (although I’m not of the sort who thinks it essential to make a trip to the nearby Whole Foods store).

But it’s not always a time-saving move.

BECAUSE THE PROBLEM with the self-checkout is that the devices are so overly sensitive.

I have lost count of the number of occasions on which I scanned an item, put it in the plastic bag, and then had my purchase come to a crashing halt!!! All because the scale thought it detected something “off” about the weight.

Which involves then having a real live human being come over to look at the order, figure out that I wasn’t trying to pull a scam on my neighborhood Jewel supermarket, and punch in a special code to allow things to proceed.

... someday be as obsolete as this store décor?
That process usually takes enough time to complete that I could have finished the checkout process if I had just gone to one of the checkout lines staffed by a real-live human being.

THERE’S ALSO THE other potential problem – one where an item refuses to scan, which makes the computerized checkout system think that I’m trying to buy an item that the store doesn’t sell.

Even though I picked the item in question right off the store shelves just moments ago.

That always manages to frustrate the real-live human beings who work at Jewel, because they don’t want to have to think much about the items in stock. It’s just supposed to be about scanning the item and letting the computers do the work of calculating prices.

Then, invariably, there are the times when I get stuck behind a person who has enough of a technological mental block that they can’t comprehend how to scan something properly.

THEY WIND UP clogging up the checkout procedures to the point where everybody gets delayed, AND we have to put up with their rants because of their inability to comprehend what it is they are trying to do!

Soon, we will not have these sights. Although it isn’t clear how long it will take to get self-checkout out of the roughly 180 Jewel-Osco stores that exist in the Midwestern U.S.

In theory, these self-checkout lines will be converted into more express lines – thereby making it possible for more people like me who are only purchasing a few items at a time to get through quickly without getting stuck behind the person with the shopping carts full of items; and coupons calling for discounts on virtually every item.

I don’t begrudge people who clip coupons, although there are times when I think these people take their desire to save money to a ridiculous extreme.

SO AS I write this particular commentary, I think about the fact that I soon will have to make a trip to my neighborhood Jewel to pick up a couple of items. I may have to give that self-checkout line at the store a last look.

Although it won’t be something I’ll miss. At least in a checkout lane staffed with a cashier, I can glare at that person when they get slow on the job.

If I try to glare at the self-checkout machine, I just have a lot of people surrounding me suddenly pull their kids a little closer to themselves – warning them to stay away from that “crazy” man trying to buy a loaf of bread or a container of orange juice!


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