Let’s talk: Are you a self-serve or checkout person? 657

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In theory, self-service check out machines are designed to make our lives easier, reduce lengthy queues and, ultimately, push a higher volume of customers and their laden trolleys through the supermarket using minimal staff.

But a marketing expert yesterday told ABC Radio most people would prefer to be served by a checkout person than operate a self-service checkout.

“Five out of six people would much rather be served by a human being than to actually administer their own automated checkout,” said Barry Urquhart. “The problem is that 40 to 60 per cent of checkouts are now automated”.

Mr Urquart says his research shows customers feel resentful about the situation, and that they are being forced to use the automatic machines despite their preference.

As more self-serve checkouts replace actual people, queues get longer meaning customers are still having to wait, then get no service at the end of the line.

“I think some stores are going to learn a basic lesson in customer relations. Technology should complement, not replace, people,” said Mr Urquhart.

According to the marketer most people are happy to choose the automated checkout when they have just a few items, but when it comes to the big shop, they want a smiling face. Or even a surly face, but a face nonetheless.

Of course, there are those who love self-serve as they don’t have to rely on a teenager to think through the allocation of items to bags (cold goes with cold, people) and can control the number of plastic bags used. And sometimes, you just don’t feel like talking to anyone.

One person who visits the supermarket four times a week told 720 ABC Perth: “I love automated supermarket tellers. I will go out of my way to go to a supermarket that has them, as it is so much quicker than lining up behind people with big trolleys.”

But one caller said she felt the supermarkets were engaging in “commercial bullying” by forcing people to use the automatic machines.

Let’s talk: which do you prefer? Automatic checkout machines or being served by a person, and why? 


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  1. Oooh! First cab off the rank! We don’t have plastic bags here in S.A. and I refuse to use self serve.. it eventually does away with jobs… Fortunately our local supermarket employs real people and we often have good chats.

  2. Wouln’t use self service. More people out of work and making the customer do all the hard work themselves. Really inconvenient if you are buying quite a few items.

  3. Checkout person. But why is it that, I always end up in the queue behind someone who pays for a heap of stuff by card – oh wait, it didn’t work – must try it again – still not working, the checkout person calls the supervisor, etc etc etc.
    And I only want to pay for a couple of things. So-called express lanes are fast becoming a thing of the past.

  4. In our supermarket the queues are way too long now so I use self serve.
    I can’t afford the wait for a check out server.
    They have worked out that working people have no option but to do it themselves.

  5. I never use them. I feel it is the thin edge of the wedge, and the checkout jobs will go.I have heard though that it is costing them more, as some are cheating on the scanner!

  6. Don’t like them. Won’t use them. Object to being funnelled like sheep through a dip, There are already 9 movements to get things off shelf, into trolley/basket, onto conveyor, into car, & home into kitchen cupboard – DON’T NEED MORE. Reject the assumption that it’s acceptable to all.

    1 REPLY
    • i agree, would rather wait in the queue, patience is not difficult. Don’t want to handle my purchases yet another time- it’s bad enough that I have to put them away at home after the shopping expedition!

  7. I won’t use self service. While there’s no extra discount for using it why should I work for them for free? If they go over to only self service I will do my grocery shopping on-line – and that will mean a potential loss because I often buy extra items whilst brousing round the shelves. If I don’t go to the store I’ll only buy what is on my list…….come to think of it….maybe I should start doing that NOW!

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