Soapbox Kevin Winson: Supermarket self-checkouts throw up a lot of questions
HAS anyone else noticed the way supermarkets are increasing self-scanners within their stores?
First we had to pack bags for ourselves, then – in the interest of "customer choice" – along came the first self-scanners.
These gave you the opportunity to process your own goods and to pack it, saving you queuing – or so they said. Now stores are slowly reducing the numbers of checkouts that are staffed, forcing more people to use the self-scanners and, yes, you now queue for these.
As the numbers using self-scanners increases, so the number of checkouts and checkout staff decreases, forcing you to use the self-scanners. Then you get the latest version – the hybrid scanner, a conveyor belt self-service one that allows you to "process more efficiently" by having one person load as one processes and packs, saving two wages.
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How long will it be before they do away with checkout staff altogether?
One supermarket is trying this out in London and they say this is meeting customer needs, as proved by statistics. What happened to customer service? What happened to interacting with people? All you will get is someone running from one self-scanner to another, authorising your age- restricted items.
Will supermarkets pay you to process your goods? No chance. Will they pass on "efficiency savings"? No chance. Will they employ less staff? Yes. Will shareholders get more in dividends? Yes.
So next time you use a self-scanner think, am I being paid to do this? Am I getting customer service? Am I costing someone a job? If yes, then you are adding to the reasons taxes and benefits are costing the working person more – and more checkouts stay closed in supermarkets.
The choice is yours!