Defeating the purpose

Sometimes I just don’t understand people.

At the grocery store, I usually use a self checkout machine. Nothing against people; I just prefer machines in many cases. And I got freaked out at Trader Joe’s where the friendly cashier was commenting on everyone’s purchases. Machines don’t make me self-conscious.

Anyway, another thing I don’t do is cash. It’s clunky, dirty, and obsolete. I use a credit card. So when I check out, I have to sign one of those electronic signature pads with a stylus. But about a week ago, the styli disappeared from the pads. Someone (or some people) had yanked them from the cords and stolen them. What a ridiculous thing to steal. It’s nearly worthless beyond signing electronic pads. I guess that since thieves aren’t generally smart enough to get a job, it’s not surprising that they would end up stealing something useless. The funny thing is, if someone really did want a stylus, they could probably just ask someone at the front desk of Palm’s world headquarters, which is within walking distance of the store. But no matter the reason for the theft, I am now still terribly inconvenienced every time I check out. Nothing works besides the stylus… I’ve tried my finger and the metal clip on the end of the cord which used to hold the stylus. Nothing. This frustrating since I know that any little scribble will satisfy the machine. So, what I have to do is ask a human cashier to borrow the last remaining stylus, completely defeating the purpose of self-checkout.

5 thoughts on “Defeating the purpose”

  1. I hadn’t see the credit card prank on Zug that you linked to, and I have to say, that cracked me up harder than anything I can remember in weeks, if not months. Oh man. Thanks for that :).

    Also, what the heck grocery stores have self checkout machines? I thought that was unique to libraries or something…

  2. Rowyn: Glad you liked the credit card prank. Ever since I saw that, I’ve stopped bothering with my lengthy signature on anything but legal documents. I just draw a squiggly line. Good timesaver.

    Lucky in Sunnyvale and also the one in Mountain View have self-checkout. They also had it at the Giant grocery store I used to go to when I went to school in Baltimore. And I think my grandparents mentioned having it on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. So I think they’re pretty common now. I never saw many self-checkout machines back home in PA (I think maybe the Acme got them recently and the Kmart tried it out), so I guess it’s a slow rollout to the more suburban areas. It’s nice though, especially if you’re a guy like me who buys women’s conditioner because it works better. Machines don’t judge.

  3. Yeah, the whole point of electronic signatures is pretty pointless – I like how if you spend less than $25 at places like In-N-Out/Jack-in-the-box, you don’t have to provide a signature even if you use a credit card. (Is it embarrassing that I have spent more than $25 at one of these places once in my life? :p)

    From my own experience, when I worked at a large clothing chain that will not be named, we were told to check signatures on the back of credit cards. If it was un-signed, you were to ask for an ID, such as a driver’s license. Although I personally sign the back of my credit card, I was surprised with the large majority of people who didn’t sign the back of their cards, and an even smaller amount who were happy to provide their driver’s license for me to verify. I recall one person mentioning that “they wished more stores would check” because they deliberately do not sign the back of their cards just in case someone stole their credit card and tried to use it. But, the whole system breaks down if you get your wallet stolen or if you don’t check and someone writes a useless signature, which nobody really takes the time to check.

    Hmm, that came out a lot longer than a I thought it would, but my point is that credit cards are insanely convenient and the checks to ensure your security are built for speed of processing transactions. It’s ultimately up to you to maintain your financial security, which, when you factor in people who can’t control spending with credit cards or scams online, is a frightening thought.

    See you at work wysz

  4. I used to do self checkout at stores all the time back east. Wegman’s, Price-Chopper, P&C, Topps, BJ’s Wholesale, K-Mart — they all had them. Their machine voices were always so pleasant.

    It bugs me how a lot of stores assume that every customer loves crazy amounts of customer service. That may be true for a lot of customers, but there is still a large group that likes doing things themselves and only asking if they need help. I fall into that category, and I’m sure Wysz does too. There have been multiple occasions where I’ve walked into a clothing store, and within 5 minutes I had already been harassed by at least 5 employees telling me once again what their big sale is and asking if I need help finding anything. At that point I just leave.

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