back to article Tesco grabs Peter Gabriel's musical streamer

British music service We7 is being acquired by Tesco, which is taking a 91 per cent stake in the company for £10.8m. A full acquisition is expected. We7 launched five years ago with backing from Peter Gabriel, who has stuck by the company despite heavy losses. Founding CEO Steve Purdham set up the company after selling …

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Anonymous Coward

Self-service checkouts

I have a love-hate relationship with these things.

Most of the time, they're easy to use and I like the fact that the nice young lady at the checkout doesn't get to handle my potentially embarrasing purchases. but others...

Unexpected item in bagging area

Please place the item you have scanning on the bagging area

Item not recognised

My local M&S has just installed them as well, and they are so slow, and inconsistent. Like it says "please follow the instructions on the chip & pin device" that asks if you want cash back on the main screen.

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Happy

potentially embarrasing purchases

Are we talking Pot-Noodles, Buckfast and boyband CDs or normal stuff like johnnies, baby oil and whipped cream?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Self-service checkouts

They're often based on a PC running Windows XP, so it's no surprise they're unreliable.

Probably downloading security updates in the background.

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Silver badge

Re: Self-service checkouts

I can't stand them. I avoid them, and their ilk, in every shop I go in. They are nonsensical and wasteful. It takes me longer to get my shopping through (time yourself... you can't be as quick with all the junk they put in your way like the bagging area scales, stupid touchscreen messages etc.), causes more inconvenience if something is missing a label / barcode / whatever, doesn't allow me to buy certain things (without one of the compulsory 2-3 members of staff who watch over the machines authorising it for you anyway), and stops me doing convenient things like topping up a Tesco International Calling Card, buying stamps at the checkout, etc. etc. etc. Why on earth would anyone touch them unless they have literally one or two items (in which case I would tend to go to a smaller and nearer newsagent or equivalent for those items anyway rather than bother with a huge superstore that takes me ten minutes to park and walk through to buy the one item I need). And let's not forget - 99% of the time, there is a QUEUE to use those checkouts. WHY!?!??!?!?! I love playing the "beat-ya" game of pushing my trolley / basket down to a proper, human cashier and coming out the other end quicker than those with less items trying to use the automated systems. And don't even get me started on the old granny / stupid idiot phenomenon that can treble your time at those things.

I have the same problems with those machines in WHSmith, banks, and everywhere else. I don't see the advantage for any of them. I'm hard-pressed to think of a place that would benefit from them enough to justify the cost and hassle. Seriously, if you have to employ someone to encourage people to use them and help them use them, couldn't you just have put that person behind a till? I honestly don't see that it scales for the companies that use them. If it did, we could have done it decades ago and every shop would have them now and there'd be no such thing as a cashier.

And what happens when the store is busy? They put on more cashiers. They don't trundle out more automated checkouts. It's very telling.

And, besides all those measurable and provable consequences, give me a human. Because I'm not a robot and you really don't want me thinking of your company and staff as faceless corporate drones. Self-service checkouts are like automated telephone systems. I'll tolerate them if it gives me an advantage. I've yet to see an advantage for me, and thus I avoid them wherever possible and "just press 9 to talk to a 'bag of mostly water' instead".

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Re: potentially embarrasing purchases

I have never been embarrassed to purchase Condoms, but would die of shame if seen with a pot noodle.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Self-service checkouts

This is what happens when you let Win XP loose with your EPOS

I am just surprised the same issues haven't occurred in ATM's

Someone should put XP out of its misery - it's ridiculous having machines running this outdated OS

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Self-service checkouts

Waitrose self-check .... now that's in a completely different class - scan yourself as you go around. - your bill is linked to your credit card so when you swipe that in the payment machine at the end it pulls in the data. Every so often you get asked for a manual rescan to check you are actually scanning everything and also every so often you get asked to declare certain items at the quickscan desk at the end where they manually scan that item .... think this also factors into your "trustworthiness" rating which controls how often they rescan you - I must now be pretty trustworthy as haven't been rescanned for a couple of years! Combination of self-check and Waitrose being 5 mins walk from my house means I never even consider anywhere else!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: potentially embarrasing purchases

Zoo and Heat magazines most likely

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Paris Hilton

Re: potentially embarrasing purchases

So you haven't tried Nutella [1] then?

[1] a chocolate nut [2] spread.

[2] hazelnuts I believe.

Paris, she can lick the chocolate of my nuts [3] any time.

[3] hazelnuts; you dirty minded b******s

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Self-service checkouts

> I am just surprised the same issues haven't occurred in ATM's

Oh, they do. I've encountered numerous ATMs with BSODs, dialogue boxes, running painfully slow, just shoing the default windows desktop, etc, etc...

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FAIL

Re: Self-service checkouts

When self service was introduced at petrol stations (showing my age here) they were an improvement because it was quicker to serve yourself than wait for the chap to amble out from the garage to do it for you. With self service checkouts in shops, what is the advantage? It's more hassle, it's often slower, and it's the same price, so the advantage is all to the retailer in employing less staff. If they offered a 5-10% discount for using self service, I'd be more inclined to use it, but for the moment I'll stick with the manned tills.

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Re: Self-service checkouts

I am just surprised the same issues haven't occurred in ATM's

Probably not an issue for ATMs as most PCs in ATMs are quite low spec, if it can run DOS 3.0 or higher and display a picture, it's good enough.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Self-service checkouts - Free toddler entertainment

I couldn't stand self service checkouts until I let my kids use one. Much less boring for the kids than going through the checkout, and there's barely ever a queue, which can only be a good thing for anyone with young kids.

The only drawback is having to keep eagle eyes on the kids to make sure everything only gets scanned once. The machines appear to be more reliable than when they first arrived a few years ago, and the unexpected item in the bagging area is usually my youngest having a sit down...

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Re: Self-service checkouts

The real issue with these is the delay encountered if you dare to buy a dangerous item like a kitchen knife, bottle of wine or a chess set (*)

I recently went to the local Argos to buy a chess set - basic thing, nothing special - reserved it online and went to pay at the automatic kiosk. Wouldn't let me, said it was a "restricted item" and I had to queue at the till to show some ID... seriously. Maybe you could kill a man with a pawn or something...

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Bronze badge

Re: potentially embarrasing purchases

Rather than be embarrassed, you could take the approach from this xkcd strip. (probably nsfw)

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Silver badge
FAIL

Re: Self-service checkouts

Just like everything else in life, there's good ones and shite ones.

My local Home Depot (builder's supply) went to all-automated with no (or maybe one) cashier. I left a huge complaint on the website, with a laundry list of things that sucked about the machines. A month later, they installed new machines with 12 of the 14 problems fixed, meaning the fixed machines were already in the pipeline. So why install crap machines and piss customers off?

I now shop at Lowe's, and I notice the Home Depot parking lot is mostly empty now.

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WTF?

Re: Self-service checkouts

I hate to break it to you, but most EPOS are running XP in WEPOS or POSReady form.

In any event, you don't need constant uptime. Any time I go to Tesco half a dozen tills are closed, with four staff standing by the self service scratching their arses and authorising alcohol and paracetamol sales.

But tell me, what do you propose replacing XP with? Windows 7? Linux? iOS?

Point of sale software doesn't need to be rewritten every few years, so why would you go to the unnecessary expense of hardware and software refreshes if everything was working fine??

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Gimp

Re: Self-service checkouts

Another fanbois whom daren't reveal his identity lest his penchant for berating an OS he has no experience with be revealed...

Coward.....

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Happy

Re: Self-service checkouts

I rather like not having to deal with a surly cashier or even comunicate with another human being, and the machines are very rarely all being used at my local tesco so its quicker than queing at the checkout.

I have managed to crash a few back to the xp desktop, which is quite disconcerting. One crashed and got stuck repeating `unexpected item in bagging area` at quite a volume, the assistent wasnt too amused as she frantically tried to reboot the thing.

Apparently its possible to find 2 items that are exactly the same weight and scan the cheap one but put the more expensive item in the bagging area, then rescan the cheap one again. I imagine thats one of the reasons theres always an assistant hovering nearby.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Self-service checkouts

Waitrose ones don't take cash. (you'd need a walletful to shop there regularly though)

Morrison's ones tell you to put the item in the bag at every scan, with Tesco if you are quick enough it doesn't nag.

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Re: Self-service checkouts

Hilariously, the 200MHz, 64Mb ATMs running OS/2 are more responsive than the 1GHz 1Gb ATMs running XP embedded.

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Stop

Re: Self-service checkouts

As far as I know, it's a far more ancient WIndow NT-based system in use on these checkouts! And in fact the EPOS application appears to be running on Terminal services with the checkouts themselves being a thin (and slooooow) client. Hence the irritating recorded messages sometimes appearing several seconds after you've scanned the next item.

They all appear to be produced by the same manufacturer, and all shining examples poor software usability, Also apparent is that nobody at the supermarkets or manufacturer actually cares about this either.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Self-service checkouts

Depends how good you are with gadgets I guess. I'm still convinced that, if these things were recorded, I would have the world's fastest checkout time. Walked toward one with a pizza, tossed the box over the scanner, it landed on the scale, i pressed one button on the screen and put a £2 coin in the slot. I'm not even sure I broke stride.

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Silver badge

Re: Self-service checkouts

I seem to remember Visa ads from 10+ years ago where this guy in a trenchcoat goes goes grocery shopping ands simply drops the items in his pockets. The readers at the doorway auto-bills his card on the way out.

When is this going to be available? As someone who regularly buys just one or two items, why should I have to wait in line to check out if the technology exists to do this? Even if I had to get a store-branded credit card, it would be worth it.

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Silver badge

Re: Self-service checkouts

Back when XP was the latest and greatest, the ATMs used NT4. They use old versions of Windows because it means cheaper hardware, and also because most of the bugs and security holes have been fixed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Self-service checkouts

@Field Marshal.

Just because something was true in the early 90s doesn't make it true now. Yes, PCs in ATMs are low spec, but the vast majority do run XP.

Also for the others commenting about reliability - ATMs are extremely reliable, you may say you've seen one or two with problems (possibly the same one several times, before hardware has been fixed, more likely) but this is vanishingly rare. I would imagine that an ATM running Linux or some form of UNIX would be hard pushed to be more reliable than the XP systems because they're so tightly controlled there is nothing extra to what is absolutely required.

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FAIL

Re: Self-service checkouts

Troll scanner activated!

You do realise that MS are not responsible for the software that supermarkets develop and installs on these things, right? *shrug* Obvious attempt at trolling thwarted! NEXT!

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FAIL

Re: Self-service checkouts

Ah, another troll!

Maybe in your mind, a 3rd party application will 'magically' become great on another platform. Me and the rest of the world realise that a crappy bit of software is crappy on EVERY platform.

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Holmes

Re: Self-service checkouts

Quote: I don't see the advantage for any of them.

YOU might not see an advantage in them, but the supermarkets see a £6 an hour advantage.

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Coat

Re: Self-service checkouts

Quote: I seem to remember Visa ads from 10+ years ago where this guy in a trenchcoat goes goes grocery shopping ands simply drops the items in his pockets. The readers at the doorway auto-bills his card on the way out.

Not good news if you are called Winona Ryder!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Self-service checkouts

> I rather like not having to deal with a surly cashier or even comunicate with another human being, and the machines are very rarely all being used at my local tesco so its quicker than queing at the checkout.

I, on the other hand, like humans and I usually wander past the checkouts running my selection algorithm which divides the prettiness of the cashier by the queue at her checkout. If there's no pretty cashier, I factor in the women in the queue. Failing all this, I go for the chatty old biddy - may as well have a chat while you pack.

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here's hoping

Here's hoping they do something to improve We7. It used to be brilliant but since they changed to the "personalised radio service" kak, I've pretty much given up on it.

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Anonymous Coward

Morphed

> Originally an ad-supported streaming service – Yahoo! provided the ads – We7 itself morphed into a 'personalised radio' service, with less choice for the listener but much lower royalty costs.

Presumably non-stop Peter Gabriel tracks, then?

ba-dum tish [*]

[*] Extra royalty required

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Coat

Don't you mean "former Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel"

Must be just the Telegraph that still thinks its the 1970s

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WTF?

But actually

Those things are merely a precursor to get you in the mood for being tracked watched and monitored. Then in the future your purchases will be debited from your wallet automatically(NFC) via overhead 3d enabled cameras(kinect). No humans needed. They have even shown an "uber" marker where the shelves are stocked by machine. From the inside, like Woolies counters.

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Silver badge

Sainsbury self serve probs

The change coin receptacle is too small for any man with normal sized hands so coins fall into the "bagging area". On the upside that means there may be money to be found there.

Change (notes) are ejected at knee level so I've occasionally walked away leaving a fiver down there. On the upside, so do other people, subsidising my purchases. Since, Sainsburgs have introduced an alarm to direct you attention to the notes, but it would have been a lot smarter to eject them at waist level or above.

Receipt ejects with sufficient force to float gently to the floor between the machines where it must be retrieved by bending down.

Reduced items frequently don't scan -- one is then expected to key in a vastly long series of digits -- I get the assistants to do it, claiming I don't have my glasses.

Obviously, the machines crash regularly showing Windows BSOD, to much chortling from nerds.

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Alert

29 comments. 1 tenuously discussing the story, 27 discussing the merits on self-service checkouts. If that's not a solid indicator on how interesting the actual journalism I don't know what is! Oh perhaps the click through on "more from this author". Might give a marginally more accurate view of how exciting this story is As so often, lazy journalism with a funny headline.

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