Archive for February 5th, 2012

The self-serve checkouts…I’m over them!

An email to 2UE’s John Kerr

Good morning John,

Sorry to deviate way off topic like this, but I’ve changed my mind about the self-serve checkouts and wanted to let you know why.

I used to think that they were a great idea and a time-saver, especially when I only have one or two small items, but increasingly I have been frustrated by them. This evening just gone, the final straw broke.

After finding out that I was going to have to stay at work for longer than I had expected due to a staff member calling in sick, I decided to use my meal break to go to the Woolworths about five minutes drive from work to pick up some snacks. This was around 11pm. I went in, picked up two small snacks, and took them to the self-serve checkout. As is often the case, the machine’s cash dispenser was out of order and the machine was only accepting EFTPOS. I was hoping to pay with some loose change, but $4 on the card isn’t a huge deal…just inconvenient.

Once I had completed my purchase, I told the machine that I did not want a receipt as I would only have thrown it away anyway. The security guard watched me finishing up at the machine, and then stopped me after I had been through the theft detection alarm and had NOT set it off. He asked if I had paid for the items, and I said that I had. He then asked me for the receipt, showing a clear ignorance of how the machines work. I told him that I had not requested a receipt, but it was clear that he did not believe me and made a comment to that effect. He then started asking the staff there if they had seen me pay for the items, which seemed odd to me as he had been watching me use the self-service checkout, but none of the staff in the store seemed interested in his question.

The guard then made it clear that he did not believe me, but told me to go anyway. I started to leave, but I was incredibly offended, not just with the tone he had taken with me, but with the fact that he had watched me use the machine and saw that I had not set off any security alarms, and yet still stopped me and showed a complete ignorance of how the store’s machines work, and a complete contempt for everything I had said. So I turned back, attracted his attention (which was difficult as he turned his back on me at first and then tried to walk away from me) and informed him that I was very offended by his conduct and that, as a matter of principle (as I don’t appreciate being treated like a thief when the evidence clearly shows that I am not one) I was leaving the items at the store and I would be writing a letter of complaint to the store manager. I then planted the items on the counter in front of him, and left the store.

As I was on a meal break from work, I did not really have time to argue the point with the security guard. If time had been available, I would have gone in to internet banking on my phone and shown him the record of the transaction and requested an apology.

This is not the first time that I have encountered grief at the self-service checkouts. Often, they are unclean, having had various items spilled on them. Quite regularly they do not deal with cash and will only take EFTPOS or vice-versa, which is a problem which rarely ever afflicts the staff-run checkouts (on one occasion, the machine did not give me change and the staff refused to help on the grounds that I could not prove it…it was about 20 cents so I didn’t bother to argue the point) and on one particular occasion when I was purchasing a loose roll from the in-store bakery, a staff member yelled at me for daring to ask how to pay for the roll which did not have a barcode.

While this may indicate an attitude problem with the staff, I have to say that whenever I use a regular checkout with a staff member processing the sale, the process is always pleasant and the staff member is usually friendly.

I shall not be using the self-serve checkouts again, and I shall also be writing to the manager of the store in question, and probably will not be going back to that store any time soon. Other supermarkets are due to be built near it soon, and I dare say that they will be getting my business in future.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart

February 5th, 2012 at 02:50am


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