Tesco robots – Just say no

Well, I finally did it. I had been building up to it for a while, and today was the day.

Tesco robots

I was in Tesco waiting for a till, when the man behind me in the queue indicated that the unmanned, self scanning checkouts were free. So that’s when I snapped and said out loud: No thank you, they’re evil.

I had been saying it in my head for a while. The man did a double take, then sailed past me to use the *spit* automatic checkout. He didn’t ask for more clarification, but if he had then this is what I would have said:

  • I prefer to deal with a human being
    Not everything in life has to be automated. Christ, even Starbucks want to know your name these days.
  • They squeeze out jobs
    What happens to checkout operators if a computer can do their job? And who tends to do those jobs? Women and students mainly. People who need more opportunities, not less.
  • They don’t work
    I’ve seen people stabbing buttons, scanning and re-scanning and getting stressed. Doesn’t look like progress to me.
  • They’re evil
    As I may have mentioned

Of course it’s entirely possible that I’m just being a bit of a luddite and resistant to change. But I’ve got an iPhone, three Twitter accounts, two blogs and a Kindle. I may not understand how they work, but I am definitely in the geek corner more than anywhere else.

But I don’t like these computerised tills and will always choose to Vote Human, even if it means a bit more hanging about in the queue until a person rather than a machine is available. It’s a mini-protest, but it’s mine. Or I could just avoid Tesco altogether.

Every little helps.

image credit:  Power is a state of mind

  • Laura Marcus

    Even better to shop at Waitrose which price checks with Tesco! Yes, the automated tills are evil. But everything about Tesco is evil.

  • @Laura – I have never been able to negotiate Waitrose without worrying that I’m going to have to flog one of my children for the price of a pot of hummous. Yes I know they price check but it’s hardly bargain city.

    @Claire – this particular branch is on the way back from my gym, so I pass there several times a week and have been popping in to pick up bits & pieces. But on reflection I may simply vary the route and go via Aldi instead. Their checkout experience has a certain speedy charm.

  • Fab post! Yes, I agree they’re evil but I also agree with Laura that Tescos is evil in general!

  • How can people not see a connection? If everybody is content to use them, then why should shops bother to employ counter staff? I don’t think it’s progress when human beings are an expendible luxury.

  • I think ‘Unexpected item in bagging area’ is one of the most nightmarish phrases of all time!! I avoid them like the plague because they’re so temperamental. You either need verification for buying booze, I use a coupon for my newspaper so that’s tricky and they always need to verify my bloody bags so the assistant has to come over anyway. It’s not just Tesco’s either – W H Smith now closes its tills and only has the automated tills available sometimes. I asked the sales assistant wasn’t she worried that they were effectively easing her and colleagues out of a job, but she didn’t see the connection.

  • Helena Romanowska

    ‘Unexpected item in bagging area’ ALWAYS happens to me. Also, I always end up having to ‘wait for assistance’ The darned things often can’t read the reduced stickers either. I would rather have a nice chat with a human being thank you very much.

  • I do so agree with you. These automated tills are so depressing and inhuman. When we’ve all been replaced by robots who is going to have any money to buy anything? They are really just causing their own downfall in the end. I just want to weep every time I find another store that has installed them.

  • Thank you Helena and Mike. Depressingly, I found more of these in WH Smiths the other day. All you can really do is refuse to use them, or take your business to a shop that still values people.

  • Laughing, have done battle with them a few times.

    Local tesco (local, extra, or whatever they call the little ones), surly assistant glares at you from checkout if you’re taking too long. I’ve been surprised to find that it does usually handle the reduced sticker, so long as it’s smooth & fully covers the original barcode – wasn’t sure if reduced items could be self checked out.

    Sainsburys: Got the “unexpected item”, well, I was being green and using my own bag, already part full from 99p store, but they were running them sensibly, with an assistant supervising the block of 4, so the assistant came over and I held the bag open, saying “do you need to look in it” – she didn’t and just cleared the error.

    PS. My local tesco has a guy that I try to avoid, as he’s a real captain calamity… when he’s checked stuff out, I’ve had double scans, missed reduction stickers, though it has always been corrected – once when I’d already left, and only found the mistake on dropping the bag.

    I’ll never queue for self checkout, but if it’s 0 queue there & a wait to be served otherwise, I’ll fumble through.