GUEST POST by Don: Self-Scan


We are still in 1990.  That’s about when this trend began.

It was horrible then.  The scanner often failed to identify item after item.  What did you have to do then?  You had to punch in the numeric code hidden on the product (often unreadable).  There were piles of impossible to read items which had to be returned to the shelves (and which failed to identify again).  The system glitched.  Even the “helpful” staff were perplexed.  (Plus, you were not permitted to look at the scanning light.)

It has improved (somewhat).  The help screen is sometimes more helpful (unless the store uses ads, confusing wording, or awkward steps).  [Shuffle 2” to the right, lift your left arm, scratch your chin, enter 21…oh, and remove item from bagging area (which you just successfully scanned and SHOULD be there).]

However, it still fails to satisfy.*  That is, unless you have fewer than 12 items.

*I question the usefulness of the devices when:
1. You have a look-up item (fruits, vegetables mostly)
2. You have an item which must be weighed (fruits, vegetables mostly).
3. You have an item which you had to bag before the self-scan (fruits, vegetables mostly) and the bags are merely translucent.
4. Check-out lines are long.  This is when these suckers should be staffed by professionals, not shoppers.
5. There are too many self-scan options.  Cashless, cash only, 12-items or less, only canned goods.  Why do I have to find the correct line to check out 13 items and use cash?  Honestly, this is too much to do…people just want to check out and go home!  If they are going to have an option for “everyone” why is it they don’t have a “large print” option for senior citizens when you can get the instructions in 17 languages, including Urdu?
6. You have to bag your own groceries as well as self-scan.  Since 1990 we have developed wind farms and electric semi rigs, but we still have to bag our own groceries.  What?  No grocery robots?
7. You have more than 20 items.  There is not enough space in the “bagging” (scale) area for more than 20.  So, is there a self-scan option for people whose intent is to buy out the store?  Or do they have to ring up several “loads” separately?
8. There is no discount on the receipt (I just saved the store 12 cents, why can’t I get at least 1 cent off?)

I want THIS:  THIS:  THIS:

If I know I will be exercising my right to self-scan I follow self-restrictions.  
1. Avoid peak hours.
2. Limit number of items to 5 or fewer (whatever will fit in one flimsy store bag).
3. Avoid look-up, weighing, self-bagged items.
4. Never use cash.  
5. Ignore all social interaction (don’t talk to me in self-scan…) as I already have too many unpaid professional tasks to perform.

My point?  Comparing self-scan to self-mutilation:  Self-scan is healthier, but often just as painful.  When I want to punish myself for a perceived misdeed, I can absolve my sin by performing this ritual in front of the shopping god (some call her Safeway, others Kroger).

– – – – –

Scandit, a scanner-building company, in promoting self-scanning solutions to retail establishments listed 4 reasons for stores to “upgrade” to scanners:
1. It improves efficiency.  Shoppers can speed up check out.  Plus, it increases store profit.
2. It offers greater flexibility.  It increases sales volume.
3. It drives consistency and reduces human error.  Result, more ROI.  
4. It increases purchase sizes.  Thus, more gross sales.

Hey!  Did you notice anything in that list?  I sure did.  It increases STORE profit.  Hmmm.  I wonder why so many stores have gone to this system…

What else?  I noticed one thing missing.  Not one word about customer satisfaction.

Speaking of customer satisfaction, I read a boat-load (over 50) of comments about self-scanning.  It appears that the one thing that causes the greatest dissatisfaction is this: Other customers.  It seems that the issue for those who have had bad experiences is how UNPROFESSIONAL other customers are at using self-scan.  To be clear, the complainers say some other customers …
– Have no training on how to use self-scan devices.
– Have little experience using them.
– Have trouble following the unfamiliar prompts.
– Have too many items.
– Did not understand that they were at a cashless kiosk (which is a newer torture device in a minority of stores).
– Were trying to manage small children at the same time (because they should leave them the the car or alone at home?)

In other words, they complained that these other customers were not TRAINED EMPLOYEES.  Exactly my point.

So, to clarify this issue even further:  Are there training seminars for customers?  Are there written instructions (maybe in a pamphlet customers can take home and read at their leisure)?  No???  Maybe there should be an app so you can practice self-scan procedures at home???  I checked, that isn’t a thing.  

Why not?

Copyright 2023 Donald Whelpley

[PLEASE NOTE that Don is always open to discussing the thoughts and opinions he shares here and welcomes comments as shared in the comment section. He doesn’t use other social media platforms, as I do, and won’t see whatever you’d like to share with him if you post it elsewhere. ~ Sherry]


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