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.