I went to Sainsbury’s

This lunchtime, I went to Sainsbury’s. Not exciting in itself, but pretty interesting when you consider that I scanned my own shopping and paid a machine instead of a human. Yes, Sainsbury’s Islington have introduced self service checkouts. The way they work is that you scan all your stuff and put it in bags. The machine tells you what you’ve got and speaks the price out load. It then weighs the bag that you are using and if it detects an unexpected weight it shouts at you in an alarming manner and a woman with a card has to come and tell it to stop panicking. This, I think, is to reduce the risk of theft. It handles your ‘nectar’ card, and accepts cash and cards, even giving cash back. What it doesn’t do, though, is go as fast as a person. And I found it really hard to scan my stuff and think properly about packing my bags in a sensible way, so everything was everywhere. This leads me to conclude that this gimmick is a money saving venture which doesn’t actually save the customer any time, and that checkout people who manage to pack bags intelligently have a skill that I don’t.

3 Replies to “I went to Sainsbury’s”

  1. I few years ago I was at a Safeway which did the same sort of thing, but you zapped the food as you went round. You took a handheld zapper from a shelf at the beginning, it rested in a cradle on the trolley, and gave you a running total as you went round shopping. You could unzap items you chose to put back. When you got to the end, you put the zapper back, and it charged you the total price. Human assistants checked every 10th trolley or so, and everyone got their first trolley checked. It depended on having a reward card, so they could track it back to you. If you were found cheating you weren’t allowed to use the service any more. It was a lot quicker because it basically removed the queue at the checkouts that is so annoying.

    I have no idea if this was a pilot or still exists.

    They also sold green plastic grocery baskets that packed into your car, so you could reuse them and never use carrier bags.

  2. Pah! you obviously have never worked in a supermarket. I hope now you realise the utter skill of checkout assistants abilities to scan, bag, and deal with peed off customers all simultaneously. Now you can just get peed off with yourself and the machine.

    Tip: Put things in trolley in the way in which you will scan them afterwards, that way you wont end up with your tins on top of your bread.

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