Feeds

back to article Oh, shoppin’ HELL: I’m in the supermarket of the DAMNED

“Thank you for using Fast Checkout.” Whuh? “Thank you for using Fast Checkout.” It’s nice to be thanked by a machine but I haven’t used Fast Checkout. Not yet, anyway. I’m still standing at the automated till with a heavy metal basket - rock on, shopping dudes - cutting into my fingers of one hand while I’m jabbing at the …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Gus

Automated till hell ...

... which begins with "Please remove the last item from the bag" then "Please put the last item in the bag" and descends quickly into the the seventh circle of hell, the Key Master pressing several buttons while telling me that this always happens. If "this always happens" why the fuck do they not fix them? I never use this machines now because they invariably take longer than queuing at a normal till.

22
1

Re: Automated till hell ...

Absolutely - I make use of the services of a trained operative every time.

The stupid thing is, where it might actually be handy for buying a single item that shouldn't need to leave my clutches, I'm still forced to place it in the bagging area to be shouted at.

15
1
Silver badge

Re: Automated till hell ...

"Absolutely - I make use of the services of a trained operative every time."

Same here. But the unfortunate thing is that this is a tech site, and it's people like us that built these things.. C'mon, somebody round here is responsible for this! Own up, and accept the good kicking you deserve.

39
1
Anonymous Coward

Shopping Hell... Never

I like shopping, yes, married man, 2.4 children, leave wife and kids at home and shop on my own. It is highly therapeutic and peaceful.

Ask politely 'excuse me please' to get past fat guy and fat girlfriend who have used their trolley to block aisle, smile as they move and say 'thank you' to which fat guy mutters under his breadth 'fcuk off'.

How rude I thought.

Turn on him as if I were Satan Himself and tell him in no uncertain terms that I would quite happily beat the bejabbers out of him and rip his nuts off and.... Get the picture. Finally said in quiet menacing tone 'don't ever tell me to fcuk off you fat fcuk'.

Left said fat couple in isle to contemplate their mistake.

Avoided self checkouts and self scanning to engage in conversation with lady at checkout. Advised by manager that I could use the self checkout and responded 'where would the fun be in that?'

Finally smiled broadly at fat couple in aisle directly next to me and watched as they immediately avoided eye contact.

Another successful shopping trip, I got a £2.24 savings voucher and 5p of my litre of petrol.

12
1
Silver badge

Re: Automated till hell ...

"trained operative"

Don't make me laugh. Most checkout staff couldn't scan a barcode properly if you tattooed it on their forehead. I used to design automated barcode systems on assembly lines and regularly want to grab the checkout person and shout "waving the item randomly in front of the scanner won't scan the barcode because you've got your finger over half of it!" or similar. Where do they find these neanderthals?

3
9
Silver badge

Re: Automated till hell ...

" C'mon, somebody round here is responsible for this! Own up, and accept the good kicking you deserve."

Have you considered the idea that it might have been the BOFH.

5
0
Silver badge
Thumb Down

Re: Automated till hell ...

I've used auto-till at the local supermarket and at Ikea. Worked perfectly every time. the biggest inconvenience was the random audits they used to have to make sure that all the stuff was scanned.

Why on earth would such a system need to detect presence of items in 'basket area' or 'bagging area' is beyond me.

Thumbs down for whoever implemented and tested such a crappy system

1
1
Silver badge

Re: Automated till hell ...

it sounds like besco

But it isn't.

Its Tesco...

0
0

Re: Shopping Hell... Never

And I thought I had it tough working with an autistic 6 year old. I can only sympathize for you and your 0.4 child.

2
1
Silver badge

Re: Automated till hell ...

Fix them? They're DESIGNED that way!

Don't get me started on interface designers. Or their clients. It's Dilbert all the way down.

4
0

Re: Automated till hell ...

I believe the bagging area is used as a sort of Checksum, so if you scan something that is supposed to weigh 500g and it weighs 2kg you've clearly got the wrong thing and are trying to pass off a 2ltr bottle of coke as a half-litre.

2
0

Re: Automated till hell ...

There is a scales under the bagging area which is not just used for weighing your fruit and veg. The scanned items are assigned a weight value and if there is a mismatch between the items scanned and that of the bag then the alarm is activated. The weight is tallied up as you scan more items.

It is an imperfect system but an elementary bit of anti-fraud. This is why that ex-GB hockey player chose 'loose onions' when shop lifting, because the machine cannot be programmed to know how much of a fruit or veg is present.

6
0

Re: Automated till hell ...

Did you know THERE IS A MUTE BUTTON for the checkouts. Just before you hit the start button, look at the bottom centre of the screen. HIT THE VOLUME ICON and it SHUTS IT UP!

It doesn't prevent the rest of the pain of using it, but you don't have to hear it moan at you EVER AGAIN.

Consider yourselves educated. You're welcome.

2
0
Silver badge
Joke

Hi, my name is Jake.

I hunt my own meat (while flying my hand-built helicopter), I grow my own selectively-bred organic vegetables, I make my own wine from my full-size hand-planted vinyard, and that's why I don't need to use the self-serve supermarket tills which I invented*. I have a real life.

*yes I invented self-serve tills, and supermarkets too.

1
1
TRT
Silver badge

I never use these things. They are the hell. And they are taking jobs away... etc etc.

@ Gus. The UI is written in Okey-Cokey Code.

12
0
Silver badge

You'll probably find they weren't 26 schoolkids, they were 26 ex-employees who have lost their part-time jobs to the damn things and are now reduced to hanging around them and gloating at their failure.

11
0
Silver badge

> I never use these things. They are the hell. And they are taking jobs away... etc etc.

Halleluyah to that.

I've never attempted to use these things partly because it seems to me that the trained and practised checkout operator would be quicker and more efficient than me and secondly because it is a blatant attempt to put people out of work and trim costs at the expense of making me, the customer, work harder.

My wife says that she tried to use one of these things. Now, call me naive, but when I watch the checkout operators, they lift the things up, scan them and put them in a bag. Super simple and super quick (well not at Safeway since they're lazy as f*ck). I don't remember ever seeing them getting messages such as "unexpected item in bag area". It just doesn't happen. So why for love of $DEITY are these machine so fucking complicated? You scan the things, then you pay. It's not rocket science. If you wanted to nick stuff, you would tuck it into your coat and just walk out of the door.

So, I queue up and wait my turn to get the usual personal service. And I *will* not use these satanic torture implements.

10
1

And the shops deliberately understaff the human checkouts to coerce you into wanting to use them.

Free markets, choice - pah.

0
0
Silver badge
Mushroom

Thankfully

I do my weekly shop I can use a manned till without having to queue or fight the hordes of kids running riot when they can't get their latest sugar fix. (Early Saturday morning before you ask)

Still the supermarket ones aren't as bad at those in my local B&Q. The voice is set to Max volume and when all 12 of them are blaring out 'Unexpected item in bagging are' each one slightly out of sync with each other it drives me mad. I really don't know how the staff stand it.

------------------------------->>>>> for the idiots who programmed the voice timeouts. They are far too short before it pipes in with some inane verbage

1
1

Re: Thankfully

B&Q are the worst, seems that the machine is weighing the goods (which range from 20kg bags of cement powder to a 5gm pack of picture hanging pins) and complaining when it doesn't add up to the expected.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Thankfully

The B&Q machines also have a problem that they sell things too light to register - in my case a bag of cable ties. Pressing down to force it to register doesn't work either, since then it thinks you've put something too heavy in the area.

4
0
Bronze badge

Re: too short before it pipes in with some inane verbage

THIS! SO, SO MUCH THIS!

0
0

Re: Thankfully

"The voice"

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to 1983 +/- a year or so. The place: a Grand Union(*) store in Endicott NY.

They introduced new barcode-scanning checkouts which announced the prices of scanned items in a pleasant if slightly synthetic-sounding voice, complete with odd stress-accent patterns because they recorded(**) numbers up to 99 and then played back the appropriate combination of numbers. The result being that the slight shifts in emphasis between "one dollar forty two" and "one dollar forty", and even "one dollar" weren't there. They disabled the voices after a few months, I'd guess because people (the employees, even) found the plethora of identical disembodied synthetic-sounding voices unnerving.

(*) A supermarket chain much like any other.

(**) They might have been synth'ed rather than digi-playback. It's been a long time since I heard them.

0
0

Re: Thankfully

Ahhh B&Q. Sometimes they have no humans on tills so I just wheel my trolley to customer services, dump it and walk out.

Phil.

0
0

Was it Morrisons? I get the same thing happening when I use theirs.

Other things I've noticed the 1p/2p-disposal machines doing:

Tesco have the amusing-the-first-time-it-happens quirk of the card readers being clamped left and right only, so when putting your card in they tend to slip out the top and clatter to the floor / basket area / behind the machine / any other inconvenient place the cable reaches.

The ones in Sainsburys tend to "just work", apart from the one time it gave me a £5 instead of a £10 note as change (quickly sorted after I told the guy on machine-duty).

0
0
Bronze badge

Although until recently the Sainsburys ones had the interesting quirk that if you finished scanning and just jammed your card in without first pressing 'Pay now' and then 'credit card', it would get stuck in a loop of complaining about your card.

They've fixed it now, but I can't see why they can't just assume that when you stick your card in then you've finished shopping and are ready to pay.

5
0

I like the S'bury's ones: they even have the STFU button!

Morrisons' have a problem in the Note acceptor mostly - I find myself shouting "just take my tenner already, B***"

I rather like the machines because it means I don't have to relate to a human being. bliss.

2
2

"I can't see why they can't just assume that when you stick your card in then you've finished shopping and are ready to pay."

The regulations issued and/or enforced on the retailers by VISA and Mastercard probably don't permit this option. That would require the card reader to transmit information about the card (e.g. "card is in the slot") to the POS terminal, and I'd expect they are only allowed to tell the terminal about success / failure of the card approval.

2
1
Silver badge

I seem to get on fine with them. I always wait for the annoying voice to always finish what it's saying and then firmly press (not touch) on-screen buttons once and once only. Also if I've got veg or clothes I either head for a normal till or leave them to last.

At first my theory was that knowing whoever roped together this bit of software worked in Bangalore and therefore playing a sound sample and detecting the touch screen or change in weight at the same time was too difficult a task, but I now my theory is that it was engineered by some expert team in Silicon Valley and they've managed to tell if you're getting flustered just by the way you touch the screen.

1
0
Bronze badge

>> I find myself shouting "just take my tenner already, B***"

Baffling more than annoying. When this happens, I ask a shop assistant to help me agree upon an acceptable form of barter since they're not accepting money.

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: "Pay by card" when insert card into reader

This is my pet peeve as well.

"The regulations issued and/or enforced on the retailers by VISA and Mastercard probably don't permit this option."

Interesting speculation, but the Sainsbury's ones do work like this.

The Tesco ones actually tell you off: "card inserted too early"!!

0
0

"That would require the card reader to transmit information about the card (e.g. "card is in the slot") to the POS terminal, and I'd expect they are only allowed to tell the terminal about success / failure of the card approval."

The nature/presence of this glitch seems to suggest that the POS terminal (a very apt name) is already receiving this information

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Never once have I had issues with self-checkouts. You must have a disruptive energy field around you that weighs heavily on machine and bagging area.

7
13
Silver badge

Haven't you ever worked in desktop support

Disruptive energy fields are very common. The fields can easily be realigned if, like me, you're trained practitioner of axe-upuncture

14
0
Anonymous Coward

Never once have I had issues with self-checkouts. You must have a disruptive energy field around you that weighs heavily on machine and bagging area.

I beg (bag?) to differ. I have found that there is a direct correlation between the level of user "friendly" design imposed on an interface and my inability to get on with it. Technology has a certain logic, structure and sequence of events to it, until one of these so-called "experts" mess with it and make it only suitable for someone who is just coming down from a diet of coke, sugar and overexposure to banned pron. Or something else that makes you lose any touch with a normal sequence of events and rational logic.

Personally, I think that whoever has designed these things should be forced to exclusively pay by using them for a year after installation. I know that is cruel, but so is the crap they inflict on others.

19
0
TRT
Silver badge

until you finally lose it and rip the bagging area from the machine...

smashing it into the bagging area of the neighbouring machine. Only to be greeted with "Unexpected Bagging Area in Bagging Area".

11
0

I used to design them (in my defense I designed the cashier operated tills, not self service).

My guess is that after a while the testing guys get so utterly bored of running the same tests for hours each day that they become immune to the error messages and just go "sod it, good enough". And yes, they do get tested, by real humans. Maybe what is needed is to hire a mixture of the brightest and dumbest people to do the testing as it always seems to be designed for one or the other...

3
0
Anonymous Coward

My first self-service checkout at B&Q needed three interventions. One to get started - what was the problem with the "bagging area"? One to pay - the "pay now" by cash was not obvious. There was also one because I had a tube of superglue - that needed "adult" authorisation. It was also tricky trying to balance the metal rods in the bagging area to the machine's satisfaction.

0
0

Re: Haven't you ever worked in desktop support

Indeed. I've found that simply approaching misbehaving hardware with a screwdriver (or, in extreme circumstances, a soldering iron) will often result in a spontaneous return to proper function. It also seems to help to exclaim in a loud voice that you have no idea what the problem is, but you're sure you can fix it.

6
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Haven't you ever worked in desktop support

"axe-upuncture" - my new word for the day

+1 to you, sir!

2
0
Anonymous Coward

I can honestly say I've never once had difficulties with these self-checkouts, including the first time. I must have used them many hundreds of times by now. Occasionally I'll see somebody behaving like the author of this article, who just cannot use technology, holding everyone up, and needing the attention of the attendant constantly for every item. It's usually someone over the age of 40. I see 6 year olds using them first time without trouble. If you know you are this bad with them then just use a till. It won't be any faster for you to use self-checkout, so why put yourself (and others) through it?

It's not complicated. The bagging area is a weighted area. The items you scan all have a weight associated with them. You can use your own bag. In fact you don't even have to bag your items. Just scan them; place them on the weighted bagging area; repeat. Then pay. It's very simple. Occasionally a very lightweight item like a birthday card might not be detected, and the attendant has to spend 5 seconds telling the machine that it's OK.

2
1

@AC

"I can honestly say I've never once had difficulties with these self-checkouts, "

Agreed, and as you say, hold up are always by folks not using the tool properly (e.g., moving stuff out of the bagging area, on a recent visit onto the basket shelf of the kiosk next to them...).

Perhaps if they renamed "bagging area" to something that says what it actually does (verification) people wouldn't get so wound up about it?

0
1
Silver badge
Flame

There's a very simple cure

You take your bag to the human manning the till, stand in the queue (sometimes for whole minutes!), let him/her do all the work, and pay them.

You might engage in a little pleasant chatter. Remind them that they - and you - are human beings, naturally gregarious, and NOT TO BE CONTROLLED BY BLOODY ROBOTS!

13
4
Bronze badge

Re: naturally gregarious

Not all of us.

5
0
Flame

Re: There's a very simple cure

I tried this.

After having trouble with one of these, I went to a manned checkout. Whilst stood at the traditional conveyor belt, a 'helpful' Tesco droid enthused how good the new machines were. Before I could protest (it was late and I was tired) he took my stuff to the machine where he had the same problems I'd had. He went to get help and I walked out to without my stuff.

12
0

Re: There's a very simple cure

I always take a calm, diplomatic approach when confronted by shiny-smiled 'queue-helper' types. When they suggest I use the self-serve; I fix them with a manic look and tell 'em it'll be a cold day in Hell before I go near those infernal machines.

They usually go away quite quickly...

5
0

Re: There's a very simple cure

"Can I get cashback from the self-service machine? No? I wait in this queue thanks."

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: There's a very simple cure

ugh, humans

0
0

Where do you shop?

Seriously, I would stay out of that shop if they do not bother to implement a proper fast checkout.

The normal checkout is probably not much better and a real torture for the employees.

At IKEA I prefer that Fast Self Checkout because it enables me to get in and out (with furniture!) in less than 10 Minutes. ... And nobody has time to stare at me or to look what I have bought.

0
2
Silver badge

Re: Where do you shop?

Embarrassing furniture purchases? Are you fitting out a My Little Pony-themed bachelor pad?

20
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.