back to article All's fair in love and war when tech treats you like an infant

I fell in and out of love yesterday. It was a wild, stormy relationship that could never last, and it's only now by relating to you the sequence of events that I will feel ready to move on with my life. We met while out shopping. I saw her from across the store: her, standing proudly yet nonchalantly by the exits so that …

  1. Anon Friday

    Modern grownups

    "Modern grownups think nothing of eating chicken nuggets, getting upset at Secret Santa, learning the moronic lyrics of the same three-note songs that dominate the music charts, competing in mini-golf tournaments, smoking candy floss-flavoured e-cigs, drinking blueberry cider and openly reading Harry Cunting Potter. Infantilism is everywhere."

    And I have to work with them, while avoiding ten pin bowling.

    1. getHandle

      Re: Modern grownups

      Oh god - social darts was our last post-work event from hell...

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Modern grownups

        Out social event is the boss springing for a Döner lunch.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Modern grownups

          Our social event is leaving the boss and his toadies in the Donner Pass.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Modern grownups

      eating chicken nuggets = yuck

      getting upset at Secret Santa = a what now?

      learning the moronic lyrics of the same three-note songs that dominate the music charts = definitely not!

      competing in mini-golf tournaments = not since I was 8

      smoking candy floss-flavoured e-cigs = I gave up smoking in 1987

      drinking blueberry cider = BLEH!

      and openly reading Harry Cunting Potter = no.

      I must be abnormal, I don't do any of those things.

      1. rich_a
        Coat

        Re: Modern grownups

        Oh dear, I score pretty poorly:

        eating chicken nuggets = no shame in that

        getting upset at Secret Santa = no

        learning the moronic lyrics of the same three-note songs that dominate the music charts = no

        competing in mini-golf tournaments = don't mind a round of mini golf

        smoking candy floss-flavoured e-cigs = no

        drinking blueberry cider = probably wouldn't enjoy it, but would drink if free/cheap

        and openly reading Harry Cunting Potter = I'd read it at home, not sure I'm cool enough to read anything "openly". So half a point.

        3.5 out of 7... I'll hand in my reg reader's membership card :-(

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Modern grownups

          What's a chicken nugget?

          1. caffeine addict Silver badge

            Re: Modern grownups

            It's a feathered creature reared mainly for its flesh and eggs.

            And, please, keep our pet names for each other private darling.

          2. Tikimon Silver badge
            Angel

            Re: Modern grownups

            A chicken nugget may be one of two things. It might be a mashup of small bits of chicken, none of which was large enough to sell on its own. This is a good use of perfectly fine meat that might otherwise be wasted. However, we Western types have been indoctrinated that only whole-piece chicken is worth eating, and dark meat is for peons and condemned criminals. This is purely a desire to emulate Rich Folks who only ate the "best" cuts of meat. Thus a second type of nugget exists, one made of single pieces of breast meat.

            If you have that cultural snobbery built in, you think nuggets are poor excuse for food and turn up your nose. Otherwise it's a pretty good use of a resource, handy for snacking and parties, and no worse than any other part of the chicken. This may surprise many, but chickens have good meat on them in other places than their legs, thighs, wings and breasts. No, really!

            1. Trilkhai

              Re: Modern grownups

              I only like the nuggets/strips that are white meat because I've always found dark meat to be unpleasantly slimy and deeply dislike the texture of processed chicken nuggets.

            2. Rol Silver badge

              Re: Modern grownups

              Buy a leg of lamb, and you'll be eating lamb tonight. Buy a lb of minced lamb and you're probably eating sheep fat and minced beef.

              Same goes for chicken nuggets. If it is a whole piece of chicken, then it is a lot more difficult for the manufacturers to adulterate it with whatever they think they can get away with.

              I totally agree, that we should use every last scrap of meat, but until our under-resourced food inspectorate start doing the job our taxes are supposedly paying for, we as consumers are best advised to stick to the more expensive cuts, that are more readily identifiable as the thing we paid for.

              As a note, of all the food adulteration scandals that affected the UK over the last decade or so, not one of them was identified by our own food standards agencies, but instead those of other European nations. Which makes Brexit appear even more unpalatable knowing that food imports from America/China/India/etc will only be "checked" by our ineffective food standards agencies alone.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Modern grownups

            You take a whole chicken (feathers and all), put it in a blender, set it to maximum destruction. Then you mix it with some food glue and form the resulting mass into palm-sized patties, put some breading on them, deep fry them and you have some chicken nuggets.

    3. macjules Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Modern grownups

      More likely to eat chicken tikka or jalfrezi.

      I refuse to involve myself in Secret Satan rituals at all, even at the risk of being called a Grinch.

      I have always managed to avoid "The charts". Something too much of the "Jimmy Savile" about the entire music business for my liking.

      Why play minigolf when you can get even more pleasure on a driving range?

      There is a special section on the Third level of Hell (Gluttony) reserved for eCigarette tossers who suck in a gigantic amount of sickly, sugared "smoke" and then spew it out in time for you to walk through, even though you can not avoid it.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Modern grownups

        "you can get even more pleasure on a driving range?"

        Last time I was on a driving range, all those bloody pedestrians were getting in the way and looking quite irate so I didn't go again,

    4. Unicornpiss Silver badge

      Re: Modern grownups

      I mostly agree, but I LIKE Harry Potter and many of the Star Wars movies..

      1. Kiwi Silver badge

        Re: Modern grownups

        I mostly agree, but I LIKE Harry Potter and many of the Star Wars movies..

        Note sure on Potter. Like the original SW but not so much the prequels. Haven't decided if I like the followups, but then I haven't bothered trying to watch them a second time and can't really remember them. Then again, I think I may've seen that HS origin-story thingy twice, but only coz there seemed something familiar about the militant feminine robot character. But maybe it's somewhat derivative of something else...

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Modern grownups

        I don't know there's anything wrong with liking the Harry Potter books (or films or whatever other parts of the vast HP commercial enterprise floats your boat). Personally I've only managed to make it through the first two and a half books, but I plan to battle through the rest of the series eventually, as YA fantasy fiction is an interest of mine. (And Granddaughter #1 already wants to discuss them with me.)

        I do wish, though, that more HP fans took notice of the large body of much better1 YA fantasy available. The great thing about HP is how many people were led to reading for pleasure - reading pretty long novels, in the case of the later books. I don't begrudge Rowling a thing, if only for that.2 Now they ought to try some of the good stuff.

        Pratchett (the Tiffany Aching books) and Gaiman (Stardust and Neverwhere are good for YA readers) are among the famous contemporary choices, but there are so many to choose from: McKillip, Dean, Hopkinson, Mieville (Un Lun Dun), Valente, Okorafor, Diana Wynne Jones, Jacklyn Moriarty, Bacigalupi...

        Of course most YA readers are perfectly capable of dealing with adult novels too. I was reading Morecock and Vance and the like as a pre-teen. The point is, there's plenty more out there.

        1Judging from those 2.5 volumes, and the considerable amount of HP review and critique I've read or seen.

        2Really I wouldn't anyway. She produced an innocuous cultural product and for whatever reasons it became popular. More power to her. Live the dream.

        1. A.P. Veening

          Re: Modern grownups

          About the good stuff:

          Jules Verne (but not the English translations, those will make people stop reading completely), Paul d'Ivoi (same problem with the English translations), R.A. Heinlein, Larry Niven and Isaac Asimov are a bit less contemporary, but very good, also for YA. And unfortunately, Pratchett can't be counted among the temporary authors any more as he passed away.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Modern grownups

            I enjoyed Verne in translation as a kid. But then as a kid my approach was to start at one end of a section in the library and read until I reached then end of it, then find another section that looked interesting. I wasn't inclined to be particularly discriminating. Mileage may vary, I suppose.

            Pratchett's still a contemporary author in the sense of one who's work is from the present historical period, more or less. (Partitioning literary history into periods, much less assigning authors and works to them, is of course one of the eternally-contentious topics in literary studies. Like, well, every other topic in literary studies.)

  2. cbars

    new sign

    there is a new sign in the loo's here: Please do not throw chewing gum in the urinal

    Beggar's belief

    1. Franco Silver badge

      Re: new sign

      "there is a new sign in the loo's here: Please do not throw chewing gum in the urinal"

      The place I saw a sign like that, the fucktards started sticking the chewing gum to the sign thinking it was some form of ironic protest

    2. Cannister

      Re: new sign

      I see this as a sign that Wonko the Sane was indeed correct (from H2G2):

      “Hold stick near centre of its length. Moisten pointed end in mouth. Insert in tooth space, blunt end next to gum. Use gentle in-out motion.”

      —The toothpick instructions that convinced Wonko mankind in general was crazy...

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Re: new sign

        The worst culprit is still Sainsburys in my opinion.

        Thank you for using Sainsburys' self-checkout

        Every time I hear that I think that Dignitas could use that as the last words you ever hear as you use their suicide kit.

      2. Unicornpiss Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: new sign

        Two favorites:

        On a packet of peanuts: "Packed in a facility that processes nuts"

        On an instant soup: "Caution. Contents may be hot after heating."

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: new sign

          The nut stand that was in Brent Cross shopping centre (North London) truly did have the warning sign about containing nuts.

          Never failed to give me a laugh on my occasional visits.

    3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: new sign

      The classic version from long ago is "Please do not drop cigarette ends in the urinal as it makes them hard to light".

      Beggar's belief - which beggar, and what is his belief?

    4. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: new sign

      "there is a new sign in the loo's here: Please do not throw chewing gum in the urinal"

      The worst part is that appears to be the only thing they're capable of actually getting in the urinal.

    5. Steevee
      Coat

      Re: new sign

      We had a similar sign in our toilets: "Please do not put solids down the urinal"

      I took it to be a Jem'Hadar joke.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: new sign

        “We had a similar sign in our toilets: "Please do not put solids down the urinal"”

        There’s you’re problem. They’re treating it as an instruction.

        Change it to “Please do not waffle stomp solids down the urinal”. You will briefly still have the issue with solids, only the culprits will be identified quickly. And they can be “shown” the benefits of using an industrial shredder for getting solids into the sewer system. First hand as it were.

        Unless you solve your problems legs first, it’s up to you.

    6. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: new sign

      I'd settle for "Please take your strands of you-know-what hair home with you"

    7. Montreal Sean

      Re: new sign

      What I see all too often in public toilets:

      "Please do not put (paper) hand towels in the toilet"

      And often, in the same place, someone will have tossed a hand towel in the urinal instead.

      What is wrong with people that they don't know how to use a toilet? Do they do this at home too?

    8. antman

      Re: new sign

      Remember the trains with the slam doors and pull-down windows? Above was the notice: "Do not lean out of the window". In those days you could smoke in most carriages and they were generally filthy so naturally some wag altered the message with marker pen to: "Do not clean soot off the window".

  3. Martijn Otto

    Why has it been made so difficult?

    If I compare it to the self-scan options available to me in the Netherlands it seems it has been made incredibly inconvenient.

    The way it works here is that you can take a hand-scanner where you scan each product as you place it inside your bag. At the end you go to a machine with your hand-scanner where you only have to pay (all products were already scanned). If you have sold your soul to Google, or given in to Apples overpriced stuff you can also install an app and do the scanning from there. If you choose the last option you can also pay directly from your cellphone.

    Only thing is that our system doesn't accept cash (you'll need to go to a cashier for that).

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. A.P. Veening

        Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

        Easier still would be to use the phone as the scanner and have a supermarket app that tots up the total as you go along.

        I strongly suggest you read it again. To make it a bit easier on you, I quoted the relevant part below.

        If you have sold your soul to Google, or given in to Apples overpriced stuff you can also install an app and do the scanning from there. If you choose the last option you can also pay directly from your cellphone.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

          I'm not sure why this would be "easier" anyway. In my experience, the smartphone is a device that does an astounding range of things, none of them particularly well. Certainly none as well as a device designed for that particular function.

          This is more or less inevitable, as a small rectangular prism designed to minimize physical controls will have relatively poor ergonomics and a dearth of physical affordances. A limited-function device can, within engineering limits, have a size, shape, and control layout optimized for that purpose. There's also no issue with it being switched among different functional modes to perform different tasks or conserve power.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

      The scan-as-you-go option is available here too. Cerrtainly Waitgross and Tescgross.

      1. DuchessofDukeStreet

        Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

        Yes to scan-as-you-go. I end up completely confused now when I have to self-scan at the end, or use a cashier. I ended up in the local supermarket on Christmas Eve (the circle of hell that Dante didn't dare contemplate....) needing to buy half a dozen things. Elapsed time - less than 10 minutes and zero queuing. Awesome.

      2. Nick Kew Silver badge

        Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

        IME more trouble than it's worth. What do you do when you come to something without a barcode - like fresh fruit&veg that need Dabbsy's heartthrob to weigh and price them up?

      3. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: The scan-as-you-go option

        Oh, I miss that from the UK. Scan as you drop stuff on the trolley, hand it to the check out and pay.

        Here in convict country, they don't do that because no retailer trusts their customers. Out automated checkouts generally have a couple of people whose job is to watch you scanning and make sure you don't rip off the supermarket to the tune of half a lettuce. You have to put everything into a beg on the receiving platform, and any attempt to pick up the full bag to put it in your trolley is met wit alarms, lights, teams of crack marines abseiling from the ceiling, etc.

        Oh, we also have 'greeters' at the exit, who will fish around in any bags you may have to make sure you haven't nicked one of their coat hangers.

        And doG help you if you walk out of Bunnings without remembering to pick up the receipt for that $2.50 bag of rags!

        1. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: The scan-as-you-go option

          And doG help you if you walk out of Bunnings without remembering to pick up the receipt for that $2.50 bag of rags!

          We have the same here with the supermarkets and trying to move a bag of stuff you've already scanned out of the way to make more room.

          I think next time I'll pay for what I've scanned, leave the trolley behind with the rest, and leave. They're accusing me of wrongdoing after all..

          As to scummings... Yes, we have the same thing here with the people at the doors who wish to check receipts. I just smile and walk past them. I'm hoping some day their security will tackle me and restrain me. Since they're NOT sworn police it is actually assault for them to do that, especially as I am leaving the place quite innocently since I have paid for my stuff. Sadly they seem to know I'm the type who is itching to have this 'discussion' and leave me alone :(

    3. oiseau Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

      Why?

      Because now, through the use of these pieces of crap that are being foisted on customers all over, you become an unwilling and unpaid employee of the corporation running the store you've gone to buy your stuff while getting brainwashed into accepting the convenience it represents to you.

      Novelty has to be difficult to use: it's part of the brainwash.

      The proper thing to do is to refuse to use them, no matter how conveninient they may seem to be.

      They are only convenient for the corporation and its shareholders, not to customers and most certainly not to the tellers who lose their job with the customer's cooperation.

      O.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

        through the use of these pieces of crap that are being foisted on customers all over

        After refusing to use one of those bits of uneeded dross, I queued up and waited the requisite 5 minutes to use a till that actually had someone sat at it[1].

        My friend got bored by the whole thing and was agast that I, as a sort-of-techie, didn't love the machines in question. Hence most of the five minutes was taken up in a mini-rant about how, just because something is technically possible, it's not always a good idea to do it. After all, we know that the *sole* reason for the automated checkouts is to cut staff costs, despite the fact that losses from theft go up considerable once the machines go in. And the machines don't go out on strike, don't complain when the shop supervisor sexually-harasses them and don't want holidays.

        Consign them all to the lowest depths of hell I say! Burn them all!

        [1] No, I don't want assistance with my packing despite the obvious disability of being male. No, I don't need bags as you can see BY THE FACT I'M HOLDING SEVERAL!. I'm rapidly becoming[2] a very grumpy older man.

        [2] According to the nearest and dearest I've been there for about 10 years. I couldn't possibly comment on the accuracy of her comments since it's cold sleeping in the garage..

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

          "just because something is technically possible, it's not always a good idea to do it."

          OTOH if it is done it should be done well. My refusal is based on the fact that I'm not being paid to debug them. It used to be he case that I reckoned that the maximum number of items that could be reliably scanned was 3. I've now down-rated that to zero.

        2. OldSoCalCoder

          Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

          I was stuck in an infinite loop of 'Please remove your last item' / 'Please scan your next item' / 'Please start over from when you walked in to this store' when I said out loud (or maybe kinda loud), "Oh, F**K you, you piece of S**T'. People nearby looked at me funny and an employee of the supermarket quickly came over to do her reset/scan of magic card thing. She then showed me that there's a 'mute' button on the screen. I still truly hate these things.

        3. Tim99 Silver badge

          Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

          She allows you sleep in the garage?

      2. Steevee

        Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

        The irony is that they still have to have staff covering these auto tills (not many, usually a rate of one staff per dozen tills) because, as Mr Dobbs article points out, the bloody things never work properly!

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. veti Silver badge

        Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

        If you help the supermarkets to reduce their costs, they will reduce prices. It's a ferocious market, particularly in the UK.

        And if you were really worried about the tellers' jobs, you wouldn't be in the supermarket at all.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

          "If you help the supermarkets to reduce their costs, they will reduce prices. It's a ferocious market, particularly in the UK."

          It absolutely isn't. The UK supermarket industry has been a cosy little mudwallow of high prices, fat margins and bloated inefficiency for decades. Whenever UK chains (e.g. Tesco) have tried venturing abroad they have gotten their arses handed to them.

          Whereas Lidl and ALDI are finally ripping into the UK market and thriving on prices and margins that would bankrupt a UK chain, even though they have ONLY MANNED CHECKOUTS!

          Nothing sums up the UK supermarket industry better than the typical arrangement of:

          - a massive area of expensive retail space filled with expensive manual tills, unmanned and idle

          - another area of expensive retail space filled with equally expensive "unmanned" checkouts so poorly designed and configured they are unuseable by most customers

          - a handful of minimum-wage peons desperately trying to help pissed-off customers battle through the "unmanned" tills

          - lots of pissed-off customers in a queue

      4. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

        It seems to be axiomatic in beancounter lead businesses that the equation of providing goods and services in exchange for payment should, as much as they can make it so, become one sided, i.e. to not provide good or services, but still gain payment.

        So having staff to help customers buy stuff is to be ruled out wherever possible. Instead they have websites to pretend to give all the information we might need, but which do not, and which make finding a phone number as close to impossible as they can manage. Dealing with customer complaints is taken one step further, creating a whole set of hurdles in the hope that the customers will just give up.

        In either case the web site will have a generic help page for customer inquiries, which will have a link for "contact us" which will take you to a page of FAQs that answer questions no one has ever asked, which will have a link saying "Something else? Click here" which will take you back to the generic help page.

        1. A.P. Veening

          Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

          Just run amok on social media, you'll be amazed how quickly they can respond.

      5. Kiwi Silver badge

        Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

        They are only convenient for the corporation and its shareholders, not to customers and most certainly not to the tellers who lose their job with the customer's cooperation.

        A couple of years back I was at my local bank branch for something. The teller told me, in a rather flustered voice, "Oh, you can do all of this online you know". I simply said "Yes, but if we all did that you wouldn't have a job'.

        I do use the machines sometimes, but only when the queues for the real tellers are too big for my tastes on the day (I do have anxiety issues in crowded places). I prefer to speak with a real person when I can, rather than have a machine barking orders at me and accusing me of being a theif if I take too long to put sometime in the right place.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

          TfL have a new one. If you phone with an inquiry, wanting to speak to a person (maybe to check some options or ambiguity in the web info) when you finally get to it the message that offers to allow you to speak to a person basically says, "If you're too old, stupid or infirm* to look online please hold.....etc."

          *Might have got the wording slightly wrong, but not far wrong

    4. jmch Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

      Same here in Switzerland. The auto-self-checkout machines work pretty well, but self-scan is way easier*. Of course, as others have mentioned, it does mean that customers are now doing work that used to be done by cashiers.

      * except when the offspring decide they HAVE to be the ones holding the scanner and run amok with it

    5. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

      Re: hand scanners at supermarkets

      I stopped using these years ago. What happens is that some customers use them to facilitate shoplifting by scanning only the majority of items they put in their basket. So the supermarket runs a random spot-check on customers who use self-scan.

      As you can guess, I would get random-checked every second visit. My wife ended up being random-checked *every* visit.

      The random check involves a security man blocking your exit while a team of shop assistants empties your carefully packaged bags from your trolley, chucks everything onto the conveyor belt at a cash till and gets a cashier to scan everything through all over again. The shop assistants then chuck all your shopping carelessly into your bags in any old fashion, except they make sure the heaviest items are resting on top of soft or fragile items.

      Naturally, a crowd of other shoppers forms to watch what’s going on, wondering what sort of criminal act I committed. Some take photos.

      Eventually, you pay and go on your way. At home, you find all your eggs are smashed, a bag of flour has burst all over your cauliflower, and the top of a milk carton has been punctured by all the rough treatment and stuffed into your carrier bags upside down.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why has it been made so difficult?

        “What happens is that some customers use them to facilitate shoplifting by scanning only the majority of items they put in their basket”

        Everyone wants to be a (minor) celebrity chef these days...

  4. Chris G Silver badge

    Poptarts & broccoli

    You really live life in the fast lane, I yearn to live like that.

    It sounds as though auto checkouts are now being manufactured using remade from New Crobuzon, a place that I think is an allegory for Croydon.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Poptarts & broccoli

      allegory for Croydon

      Croyden was once a hip and trendy place[1] where good things were happening. Sadly, that was in the 1930s..

      [1] For Sarf London anyway.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Poptarts & broccoli

        True! Croydon airport played a significant part in Britains aviation history, the area also received a large number of V weapon hits due to a glitch in the navigation systems that were ostensibly aimed at London. I recall a failure to either allow for magnetic North or coriolis effect but not certain.

        1. caffeine addict Silver badge

          Re: Poptarts & broccoli

          Ha! No-one would go to Croydon to fly nowadays... that would be madness.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Poptarts & broccoli

      "You really live life in the fast lane, I yearn to live like that."

      I think it was a typo. Dabbsy is secretly a vegan hipster and he had bought Broccali PopTarts.

  5. chivo243 Silver badge
    Windows

    Am I perhaps too old to use a payment robot?

    Yes, yes we are! I have lived parallel experiences. Scan the item, item not found, try again, item not found, try a third time, scanned, sadly the display shows me its not the item I scanned! I cancelled the transaction, and got in line for a human checker outer...

    1. Lyndon Hills 1

      Re: Am I perhaps too old to use a payment robot?

      If you were buying booze, you have to wait until an assistant comes over to ok the purchase. Quite likely quicker to go to a staffed till in the first place.

      1. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: Am I perhaps too old to use a payment robot?

        >> “quicker to go to a staffed till”

        On several occasions, I found that although I was clearly old enough to buy the bottle of booze, the cashier was too young to ring it through and therefore had to call over an assistant anyway.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: Am I perhaps too old to use a payment robot?

          I used to find that even though I was clearly old enough, and the assistant also old enough, they'd still have to call a supervisor. To this day I don't know why.

      2. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Am I perhaps too old to use a payment robot?

        If you were buying booze, you have to wait until an assistant comes over to ok the purchase

        If only it was just for booze. In some estabilishments a packet of painkillers needs to be authorized as well.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Am I perhaps too old to use a payment robot?

          ...and bendy plastic picnic cutlery too because...."knives". Yes, fecking plastic knives you can't even cut food properly with is a "dangerous knife" (FYI, that was in ASDA)

          1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

            Re: Am I perhaps too old to use a payment robot?

            Also, alcohol free beer.

            1. Twanky
              Devil

              Re: Am I perhaps too old to use a payment robot?

              Alcohol-free beer? You monster!

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Am I perhaps too old to use a payment robot?

      I think the problem is that those of us of a certain age have an expectation that technology is there for the stated purpose - in this case to enable us to pay for our purchases in an efficient manner. But now technology has gone all googleface, it's just another piece of stealthy robotic revenue-enhancement: they really don't want you checking out quickly with just the things you originally intended to buy.

      My pet peeves are WH Smiths - where you have to click to decline unwanted chocolate bars before you can complete your purchase - and M&S, who thoughtfully allow you to decline a paper receipt you would otherwise waste your time binning but then print you an unwanted voucher anyway.

  6. Ramis101

    "Harry Cunting Potte"

    Nuff Said.

  7. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

    What heavenly ambrosia flows from their super heated until incandescent interiors to sear our lips & tongues as we juggle them in rapidly scorching fingertips.

    No finer foods hath Man produced, nor will he taste them until the Halls of Valhalla are reached.

    ...

    You can keep the broccoli, that stuff is the anal scrapings from Satan's stinky cheeks. Blegh!

    =-)P

    1. Graham Dawson

      Re: Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

      So speaks someone who doesn't know how to properly cook broccoli.

      If it doesn't have any crunch left, it's overcooked. Blanch or steam it, toss it in some butter. Takes about 10 minutes.

      1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        Re: Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

        First off, I guess I really needed the sarcasm tag. (And you Brits say us Yanks can't spot sarcasm? Plbplbplbplb!)

        Second, it doesn't matter how you cook it, it's just lipstick on a pig, polishing a turd, claiming crystalized snot is diamond. It's still broccoli. *Cat gagging noises*

        =-)P

        (Inserts a big, blinking, scrolling marquis SARCASM icon for those that missed it in either of my posts.)

        1. Graham Dawson

          Re: Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

          Look, just shut up and eat your greens or its no pudding.

        2. Long John Brass Silver badge

          Re: Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

          I think you may have confused broccoli with Brussels sprouts

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

        Blanch or steam it, toss it in some butter

        Leave out the butter - that way, when it goes straight into the compost heap, it won't attract the rats.. (and give senior cat more work to do - he *hates* rats. We know when some have tried to move into the vicinity - we find them belly-up on the garden path with just a single bite to the back of the neck. Senior cat is somewhat of a rat-specialist..)

        1. A.P. Veening

          Rat killer

          Please tell me he wasn't "helped", good rat killers are way too rare and should be encouraged to breed.

        2. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

          Senior cat sounds like a great cat.

          Now if he could only broaden his horizons.....Jehova's Witnesses perhaps?

          1. Montreal Sean

            Re: Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

            @Chris G

            Nothing can get rid of Jehova's Witnesses.

            There is a pair that drives to my neighbourhood just to ring my bell.

            I must have been too nice once when I answered the door.

            Now, almost every Saturday they show up, and I always tell them I'm running out the door to work.

            Still they come. And I'm not kidding about coming just to ring my doorbell. We watched them drive up our street, park, ring our bell, get turned away and then drive off again.

            1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

              Re: Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

              "Now, almost every Saturday they show up, and I always tell them I'm running out the door to work."

              There's your problem. Being too polite, trying not to offend.

              For me, being polite means saying "No thanks" just before I add "Not interested" and shut the door in their faces. "Trying not to offend" mostly means not wasting my time telling them what I really think of them.

              They've disrupted MY day. I hope they ARE offended.

            2. Mark 85 Silver badge

              @Montreal Sean -- Re: Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

              You're doing it wrong. Go to some religious book place (my preference is a Christian Science reading room). Get some literature and keep it near the door. When the nut cases show up, offer to trade some of their material for some of yours. Works a treat. I've not been bothered after the first time until they find some fresh fish to do the door to door thing. Then they get the same treatment and all is quiet again for a few years.

              1. Montreal Sean

                Re: @Montreal Sean -- Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

                @Mark 85:

                Nice idea about the literature, maybe something about tentacled great old ones...

                I've been tempted to contact the two Mormons who rang at the door a few weeks ago, invite them over at the same time as the JW are around.

                Tell them my faith is up for grabs, but only to the winner of a duel.

                Swords at noon?

              2. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: @Montreal Sean -- Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

                I've started telling 'em I'm a Satanist.

            3. Chris G Silver badge

              Re: Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

              @Montreal Sean

              Not completely true, I tried telling them I was a Satanist which just fired them up to try harder to convert me ( this was decades ago when I was a teenager) finally my brother who had been listening from upstairs, got out of the bath, came downstairs naked and told them to "FUCK OFF".

              They never came back.

              1. Alistair Dabbs

                Re: Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

                Would this be a good moment to repeat the old joke about Jehova’s Witnesses being like testicles?

                They always come in pairs, keep banging away at the door but will never get in.

            4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

              >Nothing can get rid of Jehova's Witnesses.

              They do make little metal tubes you can attach to your door post to dissuade them.

              As a bonus it also prevents angels of death visiting plagues of first born sons on you

            5. Tim99 Silver badge
              Angel

              Re: Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

              About 30 years ago a friend's father invited a pair into his house, offered them fruit juice and biscuits, and then tried to convert them to Methodism (he was a lay preacher). They left. He thinks he must be on a blacklist as his neighbours are still visited, but he is not.

            6. A.P. Veening

              Re: Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

              Nothing can get rid of Jehova's Witnesses.

              The best way to get rid of Jehova's Witnesses is to ask them what they are supposed to do when somebody tries to convert them. The answer isn't really relevant, just ask them why they even think your religion would prescribe something different. They will leave you completely flabbergasted and, if they gave a truthful answer to the first question, in fear for their lifes.

            7. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

              Still they come. And I'm not kidding about coming just to ring my doorbell. We watched them drive up our street, park, ring our bell, get turned away and then drive off again.

              Do as my husband did once. Answer the door nude except for a WAY TOO SHORT bathrobe, and tell the ladies that they interrupted marital copulation, and would burn in hell forever for their sins. Never bothered again at that address.

      3. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Poptarts & Hot Pockets: food of the gods.

        Naw, if it's still crunchy, it's way undercooked. Boil it another 20 minutes.

  8. TheProf
    FAIL

    No standards

    My reason for avoiding self-service tills is the fact that every store has a different model. And each model does the simple scan-and-pay in a different way.

    Used baskets on the left in some store, on the right in others.

    I used a Co-op SS machine recently and I couldn't find the slot for notes. I knew it had one somewhere but damned if I could find it. I finally caught the eye of the security guard (because the staff had all, presumably, buggered off for training) who pointed to a tiny conveyor belt above (ABOVE!) the display.

    Any chance of an international standard being introduced for these things?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: No standards

      "Any chance of an international standard being introduced for these things?"

      There is. It's not to work well.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: No standards

      There are plenty of international standards to choose from.

    3. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: No standards

      I’ll have a word with the IEEE Standards office in Vienna. Who should we invite as stakeholders? A bunch of grumpy old men?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: No standards

        "Who should we invite as stakeholders? A bunch of grumpy old men?"

        Anybody who can remember when stuff just worked instead of only just worked. That probably does limit it to grumpy old men people (let's not get into more trouble).

    4. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: No standards

      Another thing we could work on is when and why the machines choose to give us audible feedback. A beep when you scan something can be helpful. Announcing the price of that item doesn't strike me as particularly necessary, but why not. But why, then, when you get to the payment process, does it simply tell you to follow the on-screen instructions. You could just do all of the previous talking by printing to the screen, or for those who cannot or would prefer not to look at the screen, you could do the whole thing with audible feedback. Why mix them?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: No standards

        Some buggers just refuse to use their eyes - they also drag those damn dogs around with them and try and trip you up with their bloody canes.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: No standards

          That's why the following phrase was in my post: "or for those who cannot or would prefer not to look at the screen, you could do the whole thing with audible feedback". In fact, the aforementioned people are getting the worst end of this because, when it comes time to pay, the system suddenly drops the information they need, referring them to the screen.

          1. Shadow Systems Silver badge
            Facepalm

            At doublelayer, re: audio feedback.

            The problem with the blind using the self check out station is that we can't see to know where the bloody controls might be located.

            Where is the part where you can keep the stuff you have yet to pay for? Where is the part to scan the stuff you want to pay for? Where do you put the stuff you've already paid for?

            Where's the part where you feed in the bills? The coins? Where does your change come out from? Where does it spit out the reciept from?

            And all that is *if* (and that's a very big if) we can even figure out the on screen controls in the first place.

            If it doesn't allow the "touch to explore; lift your finger to select the choice you wanted; double tap to trigger" style of navigation then there's a damned good chance we'll never get to the point where we CAN pay for our stuff.

            By the time I'm done trying to fight the self service station to do it, I could have stood in line at a (presumeably Sighted) checker, had it all scanned for me, rung up, payment given, change recieved, reciept crammed into a pocket, cart full of bagged stuff accepted, & headed for the door... Five Times Over.

            My icecream will have melted, the eggs hatched, the beef come back to life, the vegetables sent root runners into the floor, my Poptarts expired, the Hot Pockets retired to someplace tropical, & the laundry liquid curdled from boredom.

            =-j

            Perhaps it's a braille thing. I can't read it (diabetes required finger pokes make reading it impossible through the callouses), but if there were a braille input method for those that can, that would probably help them help themselves.

            Or just skip the damned thing, use a sighted helper to do your shopping with at hand, & let THEM do the check out crap. HA! Disability FTW! =-)P

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: No standards

      "Any chance of an international standard being introduced for these things?"

      Preferably a standard that mandates enough coin storage tubes to cope with the full range of coins used by the local currency. Morrisons used to do that, but then they "upgraded" their machines for newer ones from a US supplier that only seem to think there are four coins in existance. If you pay cash and the total ends in 42p expect lots of pennies and 5p coins in your change as there are no 2p, 10p or 50p coins available.

      You'd think the machine would be clever enough to not only have a full range of coin tubes, but that coins put in by customers could be used to re-fill the change giving tubes, but no, that's just too complex. All the coins going in just drop into a bucket so the change giving tube need stocking regularly.

  9. John Presland

    I totally agree, apart from one small point: popular music uses rather more than three notes but rarely more than three chords.

    1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
      Holmes

      I disagree it is always 4 chords.

      Always the SAME fucking 4 chords

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      This may be so but you can’t sing chords.

  10. MiguelC Silver badge

    "Then it hit me. An empty cider carton. Jolly windy today, I thought."

    that's the reason my boss wants to have a word about reading comedy stuff at work....again...

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: "Then it hit me. An empty cider carton. Jolly windy today, I thought."

      Nick Danger, Third Eye.

  11. Russell Chapman Esq.

    Your article and this video I found today

    Infantilism of tech, the nanny state because society no longer tries to do better, the rise of narcissism. To be honest it is all breaking down. Have just seen a very interesting video by Sam Vaknin and Richard Grannon, https://youtu.be/-8Sri0Fq0DQ

  12. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    "styled like games arcade machines"?

    The British incarnation of automatic till machines reminds me rather of Daleks.

    In more civilised corners of the world you simply scan your items, place it somewhere (bought bag, brought bag, whereever) and pay with card, cash, whatever. Simple, hassle-free.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: "styled like games arcade machines"?

      > In more civilised corners of the world you simply scan your items

      Well, that proves yet again that America is definitely not a civilised corner of the world.

  13. dajames Silver badge

    To readers of a certain generation, this description will be all too familiar: they are styled like games arcade machines.

    It's a marketing thing ... when you've bought more than anyone else you get the high score and can see your chosen 3-letter moniker displayed in lights above the till!

    Oh, yeah ... infantile.

  14. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    FAIL

    All fun and games

    Until some minimum wage numpty puts the $10 note cartridge where the $1 note cartridge is supposed to be.

    No, they're not keyed. They're identical, except for the bit of masking tape with "$10" and "$1" stuck on the front.

    I was in a charitable mood, and I returned the $30 to the supervisor, in exchange for three ones. My compensation was seeing the employees move faster than I ever have (or ever will again), opening the machine, fixing the problem and wondering, no doubt, how many prior customers had neglected to call their attention to the matter.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: All fun and games

      minimum wage numpty puts the $10 note cartridge where the $1 note cartridge is supposed to be

      That this (presumably) being the US, said minimum-wage drone probably had to make up the difference from their wage packet.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: All fun and games

      It is poor banknote design to have them all the same size. It makes this sort of error mechanically undetectable. That might not have been an issue until people started using machines to handle banknotes, but it seems odd that no-one has fixed the problem since then.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: All fun and games

        Change our money? Are you some sort of communist ?

        These dollar bills were good enough for Jesus .....

  15. Teiwaz Silver badge

    The interface on the self-checkouts at a store I frequent recently underwent a slight design change along the lines of why not hide buttons and tone down the userfriendly a little to delay people (maybe they'll spend more). Reminded me of watching a new Windows 8 user try to find the login button.

    As if pressing the total is any clearer than making a little room for a button that says 'done'

    Don't get me started on the stores that give you less room than Dave Listers Mimas acomodation to checkout and bag your purchases.

  16. Andytug

    There is yet another level of hell in these thinigs even beyond this.....

    Where some shops (Poundland for one) have employed the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation to change the voice of the autotill to something "seasonal", Santa at Xmas, Dracula at Halloween, etc. Because nothing helps the "unexpected item in bagging area" message go down better than a novelty voice to deliver it (/sarcasm).

    I think it's just this current generation of adults that have no common sense or anything remotely like it, adults have always enjoyed childish things, but they knew they were childish and didn't care anyway. The current generation think they are real....

    Our education system seems to turn out highly qualified numpties who can't even make a cup of tea properly and have no conception of how their actions affect others.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: There is yet another level of hell in these thinigs even beyond this.....

      Our education system seems to turn out highly qualified numpties who can't even make a cup of tea properly and have no conception of how their actions affect others.

      Are we talking about Boris Johnson again?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: There is yet another level of hell in these thinigs even beyond this.....

        Not only Boris.

    2. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: There is yet another level of hell in these thinigs even beyond this.....

      "Our education system seems to turn out highly qualified numpties who can't even make a cup of tea properly and have no conception of how their actions affect others."

      Americans, then.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: There is yet another level of hell in these thinigs even beyond this.....

        "Americans, then."

        Oh no! Americans don't get this all to themselves, there are droves of highly qualified numpties here in Spain who have no concept........

        When in the UK I keep thinking I must have spoken in Spanish going by the lack of response I get in shops, buses, railway stations etc.

    3. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: There is yet another level of hell in these thinigs even beyond this.....

      Share and enjoy!

    4. 404 Silver badge

      Re: There is yet another level of hell in these thinigs even beyond this.....

      Is it odd I just sat here and made all the different 'seasonal' voices say "unexpected item in bagging area"?

      I thought it was pretty fucking funny ..

      ;)

  17. not.known@this.address Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    Supermarket profits up again, I see

    They used to pay people to scan your stuff and put it in bags.

    Then they paid people to scan your stuff and slide it down the bit "behind" the till so you could pack it in their bags.

    Then they paid people to scan your stuff and slide it down the but "behind" the till so you could pack it in *your* bags.

    Then they replaced the people with automated tills and let you scan your own stuff and put it in your bags.

    But how many of them pay you for doing the work that used to be done by *their* staff??

    (my Significant Other hates that I refuse to use the stupid fricking things because "the people are so much slower"...)

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Supermarket profits up again, I see

      my Significant Other hates that I refuse to use the stupid fricking things

      Fortunately, my senior management is used to my funny little ways[1] and just uses her patented 'sigh and roll eyes' move.

      [1] She should be after 30+ years of being married to me..

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Supermarket profits up again, I see

      My significant other refuses to use automation of pretty much any kind.

      We do use our own cotton and hemp shopping bags though.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Supermarket profits up again, I see

        You do realise that a cotton bag needs to be re-used about 150 times to beat the resources used by a placcy bag?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Supermarket profits up again, I see

          >You do realise that a cotton bag needs to be re-used about 150 times to beat the resources used by a placcy bag?

          That's completely untrue.

          It's 7100 times for a cheap cotton bag and 20,000 for an organic cotton one.

          At least according to hose arch neo-cons at the Danish environment ministry

    3. Franco Silver badge

      Re: Supermarket profits up again, I see

      Personally I prefer the self-scan option. When I was a student I worked in one of these fluorescent hell-holes. When I started it was fine, we were told to judge for ourselves whether or not customers wanted to talk or be left alone, until "American customer service" came in to all the supermarkets and we were told exactly what to say to every customer. British people of course don't like American style customer service, so complaints went though the roof largely along the lines of "tell your staff to shut up and leave me alone".

      Having to queue at ye-olde checkouts these days reminds me too much of that job, and the multitude of customers who thought that supermarket staff were there as an outlet for how shit their lives were, worst offenders being people who though they were a bank. People who wanted English notes for going on holiday, or taxi drivers wanted cash for pound coins being the worst offenders IME.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Supermarket profits up again, I see

        The nice thing about the self scan option is that you can chat to the staff while you do the scanning - try holding up the queue at a regular till for 10mins.

  18. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Enumerating things I hate about self-service checkouts is a tired old theme, but I can't resist.

    They ask to weigh your bag, then invariably refuse to believe that anybody could possibly have a bag that heavy. I'm using the standard jute bags that every supermarket sells.

    Spoken instructions delivered in the kind of naggy voice that might be used by a woman losing patience with her brain-damaged husband. B&Q is a notable offender.

    "Scan the next item" just as you're about to do so anyway, thereby reinforcing the impression that you're an imbecile who might forget what you're doing.

    And of course the old favourite: "Unexpected item in the bagging area". Interestingly, some supermarkets seem to have decided to the whole bag-weighing business.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Terminator

      Also the fun one for those using the weighing technique of when you buy light items.

      Most recent one I had was trying to buy a couple of cards from Tesco, which point blank refused to acknowledge that I'd put them in the bagging area and had to call for meatbag assistance, twice.

      The resigned look on the assitant's face when he had to come back a second time within a minute rather eloquently expressed his feelings for his demanding mechanical charges...

    2. Daedalus Silver badge

      Simple solution: don't tell it about your own bag. Just drop the stuff on the platform as you scan it, then bag it after you've paid. It's not like you have a bunch of stuff, after all. The self-service tills are for those "loaf of bread and a dozen eggs" expeditions, not "stock up for grandma coming".

      If the till has one of those "dump coins in a cup and I'll count them" features, I will empty my coin pocket (which, since I live in the USA, does not get so heavy as to make me list to starboard) and often come out with fewer coins than I started, even if putting in notes covers the cost.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        The other problems and solutions:

        Shops are populated by zombies that shuffle along without any awareness of what is going on around them until they find a place I want to be - then they stop. They walk past the automated tills, fail to take note of the three available ones near the exit then wait at the entrance next to the tills disabled because of lack of staff. All they have to do is walk past the dead tills and they would be able to see there is no need to wait. When the number of available tills exceeds the number of people ahead of me in the queue I walk past them. I would happily point out the available tills but they are too busy texting to notice.

        The scanner and the bagging area scales are connected via a satellite internet connection so I scan, put the item in the bagging area then the scales wait for me to put the item in the bagging area. At some point the scanner section will time out and let me scan other item which I can get to the bagging area before the timeout messages has gone to GEO and back. The scale happily records the weight of the second item as the first and I can zip through the rest of my purchases without further delay because the two sides remain one item out of step... until some helpful assistant turned up one day to show me what I was doing wrong and prevented me from putting each item in the bagging area until the scales were ready for them.

        1. Daedalus Silver badge

          Re: The other problems and solutions:

          Right with you Dr. S. And it appears that shopping carts trolleys are being equipped with smartphone holders, so shoppers will have two hands free to rake in their bounty while streaming pictures of cats.

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: The other problems and solutions:

          The English and queuing is a strange and paradoxical thing. The normal procedure is to wait patiently in a queue for the nearest machine etc. but refuse to approach a further one. And not just machines.

          At the entrance to my local supermarket there is usually a queue to get in to the car park. Everyone is waiting for the spaces near the entrance, but the car park is usually pretty much empty. Even by the entrance to the store there is usually tons of space.

          The English in a self-serve restaurant with a row of various dishes will all queue up to approach the first one in the row, then progress along, one by one while all the rest of the dishes are waiting rather than go to see what is in the other dishes, or even, God forbid! start at the further end. Years ago, on holiday in Greece which had lots of UK visitors the hotel restaurant had a queue of around 30 people from the entrance out into the corridor. And inside the restaurant were rows and rows of stations with loads of different dishes, totally void of diners.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I have a special curse purely for those double handling morons that make self scan slower than using a normal checkout.

        The arrive... brain already in neutral... slowly scan every item placing it on the scanned itmes platform with exqusite care, then at the completuion of scanning rummage in pockets or the deepest bag imaginable for the cash to pay... or the card they tucked way somewhere for safety.... then they unfold one of those nasty little bags that folds into a tiny square and tucks inside it self to keep its shape before carfully arranging thier purchases in the bag... often finding that it wont all fit so they then need to buy an additional bag from the meatsack patrolling the self serve area.

        Place bag on sold scale... if the till kicks off get the droid over to magic card it... its not rocket science.. I probably waste an hour a week behind idiots at self serves....

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "They ask to weigh your bag, then invariably refuse to believe that anybody could possibly have a bag that heavy. I'm using the standard jute bags that every supermarket sells."

      They also assume that no one would ever go shopping somewhere else first and already have some items in their shopping bag.

  19. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Terminator

    Unexpected minion in arrivals area...

    On the subject of automating things, a special mention needs to be made also of the "self-service" scanners at airport arrivals passport control.

    I'm a very regular UK-based business traveller (British passport), and use them all around the world. And they work very well in any number of locations (recently Israel, Italy and France), in fact all except one. Yes, in the last 10 returns to the UK, not once have the damn things worked with my passport and I've invariably been asked to "seek assistance" and so trudge to the queue for the one immigration officer set aside for we poor rejects.

    And this is before all the current governmental crap reaches it's sorry conclusion (if it ever will). I'm wondering if we ever do leave whether miraculously it will start working fine again, or if that will be the point Skynet will decide as I seem to spend more time outside the UK than in it recently that I'm locked out permanently...

    1. A.P. Veening

      Re: Unexpected minion in arrivals area...

      Just get out while you still can, it is going from worst to total insanity right now. Yes, the stages of bad and worse are already long in the past.

    2. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: Unexpected minion in arrivals area...

      Well, that's what the passage of time will do. Over a decade a go I got the "try this good sir" from a typical Londoner and duly put my feet on the marks, my UK passport on the scanner and my ugly mug in the camera's field of view. Snap crackle and I popped right through.

      It seems like my maxim that "nothing is so good you can't make it worse by improving it" is at work.

    3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Unexpected minion in arrivals area...

      I recently used the passport scanners at Stansted. Although it was a quiet Monday afternoon there was a queue because everyone waited for the three scanners at the end of the cattle-pen and ignored the twenty available ones further down.

      I too was told to "seek assistance", and was told to use the next scanner along, while the passenger from that scanner, who also had to seek assistance, used mine. It worked, but I've been struggling to imagine what kind of software feature responds in this way.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Unexpected minion in arrivals area...

        ...I've been struggling to imagine what kind of software feature responds in this way.

        The kind of software purchased from either:

        1. The lowest bidder

        2. The purchasing agent's friend

        1. A.P. Veening

          Re: Unexpected minion in arrivals area...

          For some reason both options result in the purchase of the same software (the purchasing agent's friend already knows the other bids before entering his own).

    4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Unexpected minion in arrivals area...

      >Yes, in the last 10 returns to the UK, not once have the damn things worked with my passport

      It's part of a new biometric nationality identification system.

      If you just sigh and follow the instructions you are sufficiently British and allowed in, if you make a fuss you are probably some sort of undesirable foreigner, probably continental, and if you shout about how goddamn inefficient it is and can't this country do anything right you are an American.

      (if you apologise to the useless machine you are Canadian)

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Unexpected minion in arrivals area...

        if you apologise to the useless machine you are Canadian

        If the machines are behaving in such a way, I'm inclined to "Sorry you were programmed by such an incompetent asswipe"

        However, all this ranting about self checkouts and automated passport scanners, is irrelevant to me. I'm the SA that (literally) has had not one but two different managers claim that the mechanical systems in our control must be utterly terrified of me, as they would magically spring to life and recover from whatever error/bug/hiccup they were experiencing as soon as I walked in the room, logged on to the console or other such approach.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Unexpected minion in arrivals area...

      I enrolled in the face recognition trial, back in the day when that required you to hunt out a specific broom cupboard in the bowels of the airport which was manned between 10AM and lunch, tues or thurs only. It worked fine for years up until they eventually decided to make it a normal thing for everyone but without adding any more gates. At that point the automated gates got so busy it was quicker to head for the ordinary desks.

      Then they introduced the biometric passport machines, which are shit-awful and never work at all, but now they force you to try/fail before you can go see a person.

      Imagine my surprise when I had to go through Oslo a little while ago. Biometric which worked flawlessly with the machine doing all the steps 3x faster than the UK machines. I think they bought the expensive machines rather than the AliExpress 'bargains' the UK Border Farce went for.

  20. Daniel M

    Shelly

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7lfNjk2_GI

  21. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Can we also have a gurn at those who, having got all their stuff checked through successfully are astonished to discover they have to find the means to pay for it and start rooting in pockets or handbags to find the necessary. The most recent episode was one who dragged out a card wallet absolutely full of the things (so she couldn't claim unfamiliarity with the concept), shuffled through them several times, discovered the one she was wanting wasn't there, had another root in the bag and came up with a purse with more cards in it. Why do these people not realise that waiting in the queue is a good time to get all that done without it being on the critical path?

    I tell a lie. It wasn't the most recent. The most recent was the customer service till where, having checked stuff through the customer wanted to deal with some sort of lottery stuff as well, none of which would scan. I was sufficiently pissed off by this to try the SS scanner. Roll up, put the basket down on one side and the carrier on the other an the machine complained. Did nobody consider the use case that the customer needs to free up their hands in order to work the bloody machine and they're going to do that before pressing the button to start? Back to the customer disservice queue. Yes I am a grumpy old man - I've put the time in to get that way.

    1. Daedalus Silver badge

      Those were the days

      Social pressure is a wonderful thing. At the old grocery store, or queueing at the market stall, you could expect dirty looks if you didn't have the readies in your hand or your purse open. Even before phones turned everybody into islands of solipsism, the disconnectedness of people in daily life meant that nobody was punished for social faux-pas such as holding everybody else up. Now nobody cares about holding up others, and not many care about being held up.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Those were the days

        People do care about being held up. It just doesn't stop them doing the exact bloody same thing when their turn comes.

  22. Potemkine! Silver badge

    C'était mieux avant

    'But you try and tell the young people today that... and they won't believe ya'. ' ^^

    Mr. Dabbs, your knowledge of French culture is impressive, Guy Lux and Johnny Hallyday may not be the most glorious part but it's impressive anyway ^^

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: C'était mieux avant

      "Mr. Dabbs, your knowledge of French culture is impressive, Guy Lux and Johnny Hallyday may not be the most glorious part but it's impressive anyway ^^"

      Yep, I was surprised as well. Nice.

      Next will be references to Mireille Mathieu and Michel Sardou !

      1. A.P. Veening

        Re: C'était mieux avant

        Michel Sardou

  23. Andy A
    FAIL

    And stupid change too !

    Self-scan machines are all built to deal with US coins, so can't cope with change anywhere else.

    Say you buy something costing 45p and insert a pound coin.

    You don't receive the expected 50p coin and 5p coin as change.

    You WILL get 3 x 20p coins and 3 x 5p coins. That's three times as many coins as a human cashier would hand back.

    1. Andy A
      FAIL

      Re: And stupid change too !

      Damn! should have read 2 x 20p !

    2. Mr Catbert

      Re: And stupid change too !

      I would be okay with getting back 75 pence change having paid a pound for a 45 pence purchase!

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: And stupid change too !

        See my story upthread

    3. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: And stupid change too !

      The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the coins but in their algorithms. If you are so foolish as to use a debit card in some US supermarkets and respond positively when comes the option to get back extra cash with your receipt, it is a matter of certainty that $20 or $50 or whatever will be dispensed in the most wallet-expanding way possible.

    4. Dave559 Bronze badge

      Re: And stupid change too !

      I always assumed that the reason that self service tills tend to give you as much small change as possible was so that the supermarket could try to minimise the amount of low value coins that they would have to bank at the end of the day/week?

      Since discovering that rounding up my cash payments to try to get “sensible” change now rarely works (I really don’t want a fistful of 2p’s, thanks), I now usually just pay by contactless card even for small purchases (although I still feel somewhat uncomfortable doing that; it would be interesting to know, from those in the know, which costs the shop (and hence customers) more overall: debit card charges for small transactions, or coin and note handling charges?)

      1. Steve Jackson

        Re: And stupid change too !

        I just empty all the change from my pocket (smallest denominations first) until I hit (or exceed hugely) the payment threshold. Then I wait for the 'Vegas' moment.

  24. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge
    Boffin

    https://www.pigglywiggly.com/about-us

    "In grocery stores of that time, shoppers presented their orders to clerks who then gathered the goods from the store shelves. Saunders... came up with an unheard-of solution that would revolutionize the entire grocery industry: he developed a way for shoppers to serve themselves."

    I think we should return to that time: bring your shopping list, let the clerks do the work. Results in less shrinkage. Also less impulse shopping.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Also less impulse shopping.

      And there's the downside for the store. Part of staffed checkouts is the shelves of candy, snacks, magazines, etc. that also increases the store's income.

    2. Daedalus Silver badge

      Saunders started more than he thought. The modern war for shelf space, resulting in excessively large packing for small items, not to mention shady deals involving "incentives" and "rebates" for better positioning, can all be traced back to his "unheard-of solution".

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        I went to a proper "fork handles" hardware store today, and asked for a yard brush, a Stanley knife and a bottle of Roundup, and the young lady fetched them from the store at the back. None of this rummaging through shelves for myself. I'm sure if I'd asked for panel pins she'd have let me have the option of buying them in ones.

    3. sbt

      Give it time...

      When Amazon introduce their next innovation, "Instant warehouse pickup", we'll be back where we started.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "I think we should return to that time: bring your shopping list, let the clerks do the work."

      Oh $deity no! I can still remember Saturday mornings as a nipper going shopping with mam. Standing in queues for ages in each shop waiting to be served. It took at least a whole morning to do the weekly shop.

  25. DCFusor Silver badge

    Mainstream media?

    Where in the world did that come from? I'm sure FB is infantile, though I don't have an account (that I could log into...) - I hear enough.

    I also see MSM go on for years about imaginary conspiracy stuff (must have learned how from the alt-truth media?), nice youtube videos of 50+ stations reading the exact same scripts even about stuff that isn't news but might be pure "control the narrative" propaganda, or just a substitute for having to come up with their own little human interest story filler - having to leave the studio and contact, you know, the rest of us who aren't in that bubble...I could go on.

    Sure, FB is crap. That doesn't mean that any non-FB isn't also crap. Puleese. Critical thinking, more people should try it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mainstream media?

      “I also see MSM go on for years about imaginary conspiracy stuff”

      The MSM has happily used any old crap as “filler” for decades - the problem they now have is producing sufficient interesting content without resorting to cheap filler articles that makes them appear almost identical to the sites they denounce. Only the sites the MSM denounce actually manage to make money. It’s tough being up on your high horse, slowly starving to death while those you denounce get fatter.

      Or you maintain high standards for your crap (like The Onion) and it all starts coming true...

  26. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    My fave story about automated checkouts came from NPR and concerned a man who was trying to buy a crowbar in Home Despot. He began trying to use the automated checkout, which persisted in addressing him in Spanish, a language he did not speak. Frustration built as he attempted fruitlessly to make the machine either speak English or sell him the crowbar, and he was speedily driven into a rage as so many of us have found ourselves being driven by willfully thick machines stuck in Unhelpful Mode.

    He reached the point of abandoning reason and wishing to teach the machine a jolly good lesson, then realized "Hey, I have a crowbar!", and began smashing seven piles of shirt out of the persistently annoying machine.

    He was arrested, of course, but I imagine it was totally worth it. I can vividly remember the wonderful sense of catharsis when, after tripping over a floor fan for the eleventy billionth time as I tried to get my Saturday chores done before Sunday dawned , I let my rage become my master and stomped the otherwise perfectly working fan into a pile of plastic shards and an electric motor. If I'd had a crowbar I would have used that too.

  27. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    The other thing that annoys me about self-checkout tills is there is never enough space on the output tray for all my shopping. In normal usage, the "bagging area" is the trolley I'm in the process of emptying. Take item out, put on conveyor, beep, put item into carrier bag on trolley. But no, the auto-till requires that you balance everything on the till itself otherwise it loses track of what you're scanning.

    And I'm all for diversity and wotnot, but why do *50%* of them have to be right-handed and *50%* left-handed?

  28. Not Enough Coffee
    Flame

    And speaking of self-service junk why is it that I'm the one who always has trouble with automated sinks and automated paper towel dispensers? I have to wave my hands around like an idiot to get them to work!

    And why can I enter a long distance phone number with or without a "1" on my cell and it will figure it out but my home phone service says a 1 is required, please hang up and try again! Or better yet, saying a 1 was NOT required please hang up and try again!

    And ATMs that always ask what language I'd like it in for the billionth time, why can't they store that on the ATM card!

    Sorry for the rants, my caffeine wore off!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Web forms: Please re-enter the credit card number without spaces

    2. Daedalus Silver badge

      One hand washes the other

      The other day I had an epiphany (they can't touch you for it).

      Wave one hand to the sensor and have the other under the spigot/tap/faucet!

      But always get the water before the soap. Some places you get no water at all!

  29. John Savard Silver badge

    What?

    "Guy Lux and Johnny Halliday embarrassing themselves in glorious SÉCAM"... huh? On YouTube, 625p is 625p, the colors are described digitally, so there is no SECAM and there is no PAL. And, for that matter, the video clip is in black and white.

  30. Kiwi Silver badge
    Coat

    I'll take being treated like a baby..

    Over these ways, those damned machines tend to treat you like a common theif at a moment's notice.

    Accidentally put something down so it's not quite sitting on the scanned table? Starts acting like you stole something. Take something you've scanned already and put it into the basket to make more room? It calls for security. Try to double-scan an item (say you have 2 cans of soup)? Firing squad being prepared.

    I much prefer the friendly operator at the proper checkout. At my age, there's plenty there to check out.... Check me out...(youtube link)

  31. Caver_Dave

    Re: Karma

    There were 10 of us in the lunchtime queue for the manned checkout at the newly revamped CO-OP store in my local village. One of the people who was normally on the tills was trying to persuade us to use the new self-serve. I asked "Do we get money off for doing your job for you?" The answer was "No" and 10 people stayed in the queue. Then some early 20's strolled up to the SS till and gave a wink at the queue for the manned till. He only had 5 or 6 items, but most of us were through the manual till before he left :-) I asked the assistant when I was leaving how well the till was received and she answered that the person we watched was only the third in 5 hours!

  32. ADC

    Full marks for the Bill Nelson link Mr Dabbs :-)

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