Serve Yourself!

OK its time for a rant. I hate self service checkouts. Serve yourself, what a bloody joke! 

There, I said it. I spend most of the day on a computer for work and would consider myself fairly tech savvy with gadgets and electronic goods. However, these machines that are popping up in more and more supermarkets and shops scare the hell out of me.

Self Service

Yesterday I had just got back to Harrogate from a great weekend in Chester and needed to get a few bits and bobs from the shops to tide me over. I decided to go to the new-ish Sainsburys local.

After filling my basket with my groceries I made my way to the checkout.

At this point I was faced with a decision to either join the three-person queue at the manned checkout or use one of the 3 self service checkouts. Now usually I would just join the queue and wait to be served by a human being. However, I thought to myself ‘be brave Matt – embrace the technological age’ and decided to use the self service checkout.

The first screen I was faced with was something about whether I was using my own bags… Already I’m regretting my decision.

I passed my first item past the scanner…

‘BEEP’ Awesome,  maybe this wont be so bad and a future career as a checkout assistant awaits.

Second item passed through…

‘BEEP’…hey hey this easy!

Third item beeped, but then something came up on the screen about placing the item in the bagging area and removing it from the bag. PANIC SETTING IN. Suddenly the machine starts spouting out more warnings about the ‘bagging area’… I can feel the eyes of other shoppers burning in the back of my head.

After frantically pressing the screen a few times I seemed to have resolved the problem and the machine asked for my next item a, bunch of bananas. ‘Hmmm, how’s this going to work then… do I have to play Guess the weight of the bananas?’

A few more options pressed.

Something about ‘item not recognized – pick item from list?’

A few more options selected and now the machine is spouting more rubbish about the bagging area. I might be wrong but I’m convinced these warnings were getting louder and therefore drawing more attention to my problem!

Self Check out rage

Behind me an attendant presses a button that rings a bell, he sees I’m struggling and has decided to call for assistance thus alerting everyone in the store to my self checkout issues.

At this point I’ve snapped, grabbed the items I had already scanned, put them back in the basket and returned to the queue to be served by a human being.

If I had a white flag I would have waved it.

I surrender .


When I get to the checkout I make a remark about how the machines are more trouble than they are worth, to which the lad who was serving me agreed and commented ‘yeah, most people say that’.

So if most people say that why are there so many of them?! Does anyone actually like these things? 

They are completely ‘unsociable’ and if I’m going in to a store to purchase items I don’t expect to have to scan and bag the things I want myself. For many older people going to the shops is the only chance they will get to speak to someone that day. They don’t want to use a self service checkout and enjoy the interaction from being served by a human.

One of the worst places for this is WHSmiths in Harrogate town centre. They have installed about 5 of these machines leaving only 1 or 2 manned checkouts. Yes I know it saves costs on staff and eases the queues but I hate them and I’m sure many other people feel the same.

So please companies stop installing these machines and bring back human beings!

Rant over.


  1. 18th March 2013 / 12:57 pm

    “unexpected item in the bagging area”.

    Well it’s not unexpected, is it, I’ve just put it there and quite expect it to stay there
    So whom exactly is it unexpected to?
    Unexpected to a mindless, quite dim, computer brain that pretends to control this goddam self service till.

    Just pay more attention, then perhaps you wouldn’t be so shocked at me doing exactly what the system is designed to do. Pay attention you dimwitted moron,

    I’m very laid back and only go there to get angry. Works every time.

  2. L
    18th March 2013 / 1:52 pm

    i think they are brilliant…..except when you get stuck behind a moron who is unable to place items in a bagging area. i also hate people who go to the manned checkouts, put a mega load of shopping through and then after spending 20 minutes packing thier bags then get their purse out and fondle around for 10 minutes trying to find their loyalty card. I now do most of my shopping online to save such frustrations!

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