Self-service Checkouts: Should we Bring Back the Humans?


A rant by a writer in one of the national papers recently hit the headlines after he stated he was becoming increasingly exasperated by the self-service checkouts and having to “do it himself.”

As a nation who seem to be moving towards self-service in supermarkets and shops, are we becoming a lazy nation by not wanting to do it ourselves, or are we simply looking for that day-to-day interaction? Is it time we got rid of the machines and brought back the humans? The Loose Women panel discussed this light-hearted topic to find out.

Andrea started by asking how the phrase “unexpected item in the bagging area” made everyone feel.

“Stressed,” announced Jane, over the audience’s laughter.

Andrea commented: “It got us thinking, they’re everywhere!” and then put it to the panel, “Isn’t it about time we brought the humans back, or do you like the whole, ‘beep’?”

“Can I just say everybody, that when I was little I had a little plastic supermarket,” Coleen stated. “It had its own conveyor belt and everything, so it takes me back to childhood now when I go through doing the ‘beep.’ I love it!”

“What about when you hear that noise – the ‘unexpected’ phrase?” Andrea asked.

“Oh the little red flashing light, and all hell breaks loose then all the attention’s on me! It’s fabulous!” Coleen added whilst the rest of the panel laughed.

“You’re one of the women they mention in the survey,” Jane pointed out. “It says the only people that like the self service, is those that as children wanted to be check out assistants. It’s you!”

“I tell you what, I absolutely hate”, Gloria added, “I hate going into the bank these days and having to bank your own cheque. It’s no service at all now, it’s just machines, and as I said earlier, I’m not good with machines.

“When I go to the airport, I have to go to the nice lady or man and say, can you do this for me, because I’m no good at it.

“People put it down to age – don’t you think they do?” Gloria asked the panel with a smile.

“If I could find a petrol station, where a man would do it, I would definitely go to that one,” she moved on, “without having to do it all myself.”

“We were talking about this over Sunday lunch yesterday with my mum,” Andrea stated, “and she said she hasn’t put petrol in the car since about the eighties because my dad does it!”

“When we go to a petrol station, me and my husband have a Mexican stand-off. We both sit in the car and look at each other as if to say ‘Who’s going to put the petrol in?’ ” Jane laughed.

“See I like doing that as well,” Coleen enthused, “because as a kid, I’d see my dad doing it, and I’d be like I can’t wait until I’m old enough to do that!”

“You’re weird,” Jane interrupted.

“I’ve never really grown up,” Coleen giggled.

“These self-service machines – there are some I like, and some I don’t like,” Jane brought the conversation back. “One supermarket is fine, but I went to a famous Swedish homeware store yesterday and they’ve introduced self-service too.”

“There’s the other alternatives as well, where the self-service is ten items or less but there were people with ten wardrobes going through!” she demonstrated.

“The one I can’t stand, is a particular home DIY chain. I argue with the self-service, because it shouts at you!” Jane finished.

“Well, you can relax now, it’s all over – that’s it for today!” Andrea concluded.

How do you feel about self-service machines? Do you find them the quicker option or do you think it’s better to have communication with the cashiers? Let us know.

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