Monday, 25 August 2008

Emergency measures

The alarm rings loudly.

"There's an unexpected item in packing area!" the automated voice tells all.

The alarm rings again.

Woah...calm down!

The only thing that's sitting in the packing area of the self-service till is my bag-for-life. I suppose it's a Waitrose bag in a Tesco Express store, so for some it could have been deemed mildly unexpected. But come on, this is 2008. We're all in this together!

Red faced, I look for the assistant. I avoid eye-contact with the other customers just in case they think I'm shoplifting. Ah but perhaps that's a sign of guilt? Maybe I should look each and everyone of them in they eye, like a jury ready to announce their verdict.

Phew, the lady arrives. Presses the release button.

I must have a trustworthy face, because she doesn't peer too closely in the bags.

With the first bag packed, I put my second in place, this time a smart little number in bright green.

"There's an unexpected item in packing area!"

Not again! At least by now, my queuing audience has disappeared.

The assistant smiles or perhaps grits her teeth as she presses the button for a second time.

All done.

I swipe my clubcard.

Another bleep.

A question.

"Number of own bags?

I type in 2.

"Assistance Needed." flusters the computer, accompanied by the now familiar alarm bells.

I want to shout "Don't you believe me?"

Another smile to accompany another press of the release button.

I swipe, I pay and with a sense of relief I leave, with my emergency bank holiday supplies.

My reputation might be in tatters but at least my bags are intact.

And I swear I will never use those machines again!



Mrs Green said...

LOL! I tried one of those self service things ONCE and once only. Never again. I only bought 6 items and it took me about half an hour to get through.

It was much quicker when I was the other side of a sainsbury's checkout in my teens!

Two bags though - well done you; I think you should have had some kind of applause coming from the machine instead........

You've earned your wine this evening, that's for sure.

just Gai said...

I too have a horror of the self checkout aisle but my girls love it so I often end up arguing with the machine. I've found the same reluctance to accept my own bags and have on occasions resorted to filling one of the store's bags just to keep the peace and then transferring the items to my own bag after I've finished.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Oo-er - haven't ever tried that - don't think I'll bother, especially at my age - I'm bound to get it wrong. Feel though D that it was their fault, definitely not yours.

A x

Muppet said...

We have self-service tills in our nearest M&S food hall (not that we go often) - they're awful! They can't cope with anything out of the ordinary and the instructions are useless.

John Costigane said...

Hi Mrs A,

These machines are to help reduce queues. They are not designed for Zero Waste.
Today, at ASDA, I bought loose apple, bananas, lemons and a pepper. I even removed the apple labels, but remembered the name. The check-out lady was completely helpful.
Maybe they saw me coming!

Sharon J said...

Being the assistant in charge of the self-service check-out must be the most awful job in the supermarket. I know it'd drive me to distraction!

Anonymous said...

In my area of SW Florida, not only are self-checkouts at the WalMart, Home Depot but the library too! At least the ones at the library don't make announcements - the library aides do :) I've told all managers I refuse to use self-checkout and if that's all they have I'll stop shopping with them. Nobody cared.


Baba said...

I really love those self service checkouts and have never had a problem with them EXCEPT the one time about 6 months ago when the assistant was called because I was buying wine....and get this....she didn't believe I was over 21 and got the manager to come and look at me!!! Was a combination of pure joy and massive humiliation!!!!! (and NO - she didn't need glasses!) My Mum who was with me was so busy ROFL that she couldn't speak properly to help me!! X

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

I've been there as well; I think they are there to try ones patience.

If the bags the wrong weight it shouts out this message, why so loud, I do I shout at the machine? If you don’t use any bag and just put the items down in the packing area on its own you still get the same message.

I feel guilty enough every time I go into a supermarket without this.

Mind you if people thought that I was the wrong age when I was buying wine I would use them on a regular basis......

Margaret's Ramblings said...

I must be a traitor to the cause because I love these self service checkouts. Mind you it's about the only bit of technology that doesn't wait to jump up and bite me.

Grignoter said...

Hi again Mrs A,

I find the only way to use those self-service things with your own bags is to just put the stuff on the "bagging area" alone and then pack it all into the bag once it's processed your payment and told you you can go. In which case, it only really saves you time if you've got very few items and the queues at the other tills are very long.

I have seen a couple with a "use bags for life" option on them, but haven't dared try this yet.



Sorry folks, I've been busy in a skip.

Hi Mrs G - I'm still on the wine, trying to recover. I use those machines every once in a while to buy the odd few things but two bags'er again. As you know from experience...there are faster ways... ;-D x

Hi Just Gai - LOL...well done for your efforts. I like it. Thanks for the Bin 101 contender by the way. I'll be bunging that in for the vote tomorrow. ;-D

Hi Anne - LOL - don't blame you. But I did notice it worked okay when I bought a Tesco Bag for Life the other day...funny that :-D

Hi Muppet - M&S eh, that's a new one on me, never knew they had self service tills...I wonder if you could use it for scanning your knickers LOL. Not yours I mean, I wouldn't expect anyone to go that far...oh..I'm digging myself into a hole here. Better change the subject...I'm hoping to announce the awards tomorrow, I've just been busy giving them the old polish. ;-D

Hi John - LOL. Absolutely right...wouldn't it be great though if it was a self-service machine that would recycle your waste. Fab job with the apples, by the way ;-D

Hi Sharon - Hee, hee. I think I most definitely did drive that poor lady to distraction. Went back today and she wasn't there. Instead I got served by a very nice lad in her absence. ;-D

Hi Bellene - OMG library aides making all those announcements. I used to be one of those myself in the dim and distant past, circa 1989 I think it was now...I'm now wondering what announcements I used to make back then...LOL. Poor you at Wal Mart - no wonder you kicked up a fuss. With Home Depot too, it looks like the world is being taken over. Yikes ;-D

Hi Baba - LOL - Love every minute of it while you can. But don't drink too much mind...otherwise you may be asked for your bus pass as ID. ;-D

Hi Peter - Hee Hee, maybe you should take courage and give those machines another go. You never know, you could get the same lady as Baba. ;-D

Hi Margaret - traitor eh...are you sure you haven't been involved in programming those machines. LOL. What about those pay at pump petrol dispensers? Have you ever tried those. I haven't. They scare me too much...I'm not sounding that brave for someone who loves technology am I...oh well, must be my inner luddite ;-D

Hi Grignoter - I think you have the answer there, but as you say, best used when the number of items is few. Please be brave with the bags for life option and do remember to come and report the new home of Self-Service HQ. :-D

Maisie said...

I had this same problem in Asda once.It didn't seem to like me wanting to use my own bags and in the end the assistant said to put the things into the carries on the bagging section then put them back into my own bag after.
I have never used the self serve tills in there again.

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