Our little Tesco has recently replaced one till with two self service tills. The idea I think is that they save money on staff, and the queues move a little quicker because of more tills. Of-course it doesn’t work like that, most people won’t use the new tills, either through fear of technology or because the’ve watched how people struggle so much with them.
There are a number of problems, and while this post is really about newspapers, I’ll tell you them anyway.
The ‘bagging’ area:
This is the bit to the side of the till where you put your stuff in a bag (good name then). In-order for the till to guide you the bagging area is pressure sensitive, so you scan the item put it in a bag and the till knows your ready for your next item.
The problem is what happens when you are buying one or two things ? most people don’t put them in bags so the till just keeps saying “place item in bagging area”, while the bemused customer looks at the bar of chocolate and the screen thinking “what I’m not putting this in a bag”.
The other problem is children, I’ve seen a number of people go to the till with there child who is desperate to see the screen so leans on the pressure pad and the till says ‘unexpected item in bagging area’ which to be fair the developer probably didn’t expect you to put your child in a till.
(very quickly this could turn into a ran about software development so I will try to hold back)
This is all indicative of over exposure to something during development, when your writing software or making something it’s very easy to become over familiar with how it works, sure during all the design and testing it made perfect sense, put your shopping on the right, scan and put in a bag on the left. I wonder if they actually got a mother with two children, no time and a pint of milk to test the system?
Restricted Items :
This is the problem i got today which even now seems very strange – Ruth had a little lie into day, so Daisy and me went to little tesco to buy a newspaper and some flowers (I had a softy moment). When we got to the till there was no one on around, the old man next to me (rather sensibly as it turned out) decided to camp out and wait for an assistant to come. Me being the tech savvy, software professional that i am, strolled over to the self service tills, ‘I’ll show that old man’ i thought, ‘just wonder over, quickly scan two items and stroll out before he’s even seen someone come to serve him. Except I hadn’t factored in both the ‘bagging area’ and the contraband i was carrying.
After finding the bar-code on the flowers, and eventually getting the bagging area to recognise they where there, I hunted for the bar-code on my paper – just as i was being to suspect that the old man new something i dind’t about papers and bar-codes I located it (in the banner at the top which was a bit odd). scanned it, and got ‘this is a restricted item, assistance required’ – ‘very odd i thought’ I looked around and staff where starting to appear, maybe it was the orange flashing light which tells everybody else in the store -this man can’t work the till – look he looks clever but he’s broken it.
Eventually the screen just flicked back to normal with two big buttons ‘next item’ and ‘finish’ – so i clicked finish, and again ‘assitance required – restricted item’ – by this time a woman came over and looked at the till (she did actually work in the Tesco, so i wasn’t to bothered). typed in around 3 codes : The first of which was plain text – so is probably her ID the second of which wasn’t shown on the screen but given the size of the screen and the number pad it displayed was so obviously 1000, that i forgot the first number. and the till told her that I had to be 12 to buy the guardian!
It then took her three attempts at the till and two at the ‘authorizer’ station before i was allowed out of the shop with the paper. It mustn’t have been easy to sort it out, not with me behind making snide comments to daisy about how old I was and if she thought i was over twelve and allowed to read the paper.
Since I got home I’ve quickly looked through the paper and i can’t see why I have to be twelve, I don’t mind when they stop people buying stuff for legal reasons (like cigarettes or 12 rated films), but when Tesco appear to make value judgements about how anyone under 12 just won’t gain anything from the news, it goes a bit to far.