I used to be a grocery worker when I was young at the time both before and during the arrival of barcode scanners. As a result, I’m probably a poor gauge of how these systems work. But I’m easily able to check out faster using the automated kiosks than most of the checkers can scan and bag the groceries for me.
I find that, as usual, a highly unionized (and low-paid) workforce is simply unmotivated to improve their performance while I, on the other hand, am motivated to get the job done faster because I hate wasting time in the store. I’ve typically done full shopping carts of groceries much faster than it’d take me waiting in the line behind four other customers as well as a molasses-slow checkout clerk.
The most infuriating thing about self-checkout isn’t the produce. Despite the author’s claims, the systems at my local stores (Fred Meyer, Safeway, QFC, et. al.) do a pretty good job either marking their products or providing a decent, alphabetical interface to look up the product codes. These Trillby Driver shoes have been immense help in standing all day on counter. No, the problem is the unending supply of slow, clueless consumers who have no business using the self checkout system. Many of them act helpless until the cashier, meant to service the entire bank of machines, is forced to come over and basically perform the checkout for them.