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March 02, 2006

Self checkout still a bad idea

I was at Home Depot the other day picking up some parts. It was deserted so I thought it was time to give their automated self checkouts a try. To start out it was pretty straight forward, everything made sense and was intuitive and explained on the screen. Now the problems. After taking a couple tries to scan the item, I placed the item in a bag on the scale, the unit complained that I had removed an item, so I pushed down on the bag and it stopped complaining (the unit just showed itself to be useless for theft monitoring). Thats all I was buying, so time for payment, a huge selection screen pops up and I had to search for credit card. Several swipes later the unit finally reads my card and then informs me I need to walk 6 feet over to the other end of the unit to sign the signature reader pad. Now I needed to figure out where my receipt was. That was the end of it luckily, no theft alarms leaving the building. The whole process took about 2 to 3 times longer than a cashier and I was only buying one item. I still think self checkouts are a bad idea for retail. I think they are pretty effective for service businesses like movie theaters (although Cinema City's unit is dreadful) and I think they would be very effective at restaurants.

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