12 June 2011

Self Checkout

Using self checkout is always a mistake. It's one of those innovations that seems like it should be a good idea, but it's not. The line might be shorter, you might only have three items to purchase, you might have incredibly impressive scanning skills, but using the self checkout will never, ever be faster. I know that using self checkout is never a good idea. But every so often I forget. My most recent lapse in judgement involved two gallons of milk.

After scanning the first gallon of milk the ever polite automated voice asks me to "please place [my] item in the bag" at least three times. After scanning my second gallon of milk the voice asks me if I have any coupons. I don't, so I push the no button. The touch screen isn't responsive, so I try again. On the fourth push the voice decides that I don't have any coupons to scan. Then it tells me to please check my cart for any additional items. I don't have a cart. All I have is two gallons of milk, and I managed to carry them all by myself. I try to pay for my milk, but the machine is waiting for me to check my cart. The checker next to me has successfully finished checking out two customers.

The voice asks me if I am finished. I push the finish and pay button. It works on the third try. The voice asks me how I will be paying. I push the cash button. It works on the first try. The checker behind me no longer has any customers in her line. I try to put my money into the machine, but the voice is not interested in accepting my money until she has finished giving me directions. I listen to her tell me to "please place your bills in the bill accepter before placing coins in the coin accepter." Or maybe she asks me to do the coins first. I don't really know because all I have is a five dollar bill, and I don't care if she wants coins or bills first. I just want her to stop talking so that I can pay for my milk and be on my way. Finally the instructions are complete and the little green light comes on indicating the the voice is ready to accept my money. I put my money in, and she spits it back out at me. I turn the bill over and try again. Again she spits it back out at me. I crease, fold, flatten and otherwise try to prepare my five dollars for automated retrieval, but still the voice spits the money back out at me. I sort of feel like I'm trying to pass a counterfeit bill. I have no other method of payment with me because all I wanted to do was run in and buy two gallons of milk while the Texan waited in the car with Little Redhead.

I flag down a real person and explain to her that the voice is not interested in my cash. Real Person tries no fewer than six times to get the voice to accept my money. Finally Real Person goes to her own cash drawer and pulls out a new five dollar bill. The voice accepts this bill and then dispenses the appropriate amount of change. She then politely reminds me to collect my change and my receipt and thanks me for shopping. She invites me to come again. I should know better, but I probably will come again.