Self check out – love ’em or hate ’em?


I went to IKEA the other day and decided to use the self checkout.  BIG mistake!  I don’t know if it’s because we’re not practiced at using this kind of system, but it took much longer to execute and was pretty much a pain in the arse.  When there was an error (first caused by me but then complicated by a staff member) and I needed to be credited, correcting it involved leaving the checkout and visiting another part of the store to be refunded.  Quite protracted.

What’s been your experience?  Are self service checkouts are time waster or a time saver?

20 responses to “Self check out – love ’em or hate ’em?

  1. Haven’t tried them at IKEA, because I don’t have one nearby, but have used both the Big W and Woolies ones, and love them! And my experience is that even if I make a mistake, it’s not usually a complicated process for the staff member on duty to fix.

    Particularly if I’ve only got a few items, I’d much rather serve myself (usually with no waiting, because others don’t like, or are frightened to use, the self serve registers) than wait behind 10 other people in the “express” lane!

  2. I also tried the self checkout at IKEA in Richmond and the machine didn’t want to do it, plus there didn’t seem to be barcodes on the cushions….there were, but you had to UN-ZIP the cover to find them, so I ended up having to ask the girl “helper” and she ended up doing it just as if I went through the ordinary checkout !!!! Maybe with time we will get the hang of it, but I prefer being “served” !!!

  3. Ditto the Woolies and Big W self serve checkout love. They are also a great way to offload all that heavy coinage hanging around the house. It takes its time, but sure does free up the wallet weight. Always make sure to check your change carefully though, they are not always entirely reliable in that department.

  4. I rather like the self serve checkouts at Woolies. It makes me feel like I am an accomplished person. Haha. Especially now that I am working out the system. I’m not sure if it is a good idea at Ikea except for regular shoppers as it takes time to work out how everything goes and of course it is likely to be different with other companies. The real downside are the jobs being lost.

  5. I’ve only used the ones at Big W and really like them. Usually there is no waiting to get on one as opposed to the long queues at the staffed checkouts. They’re easy to use (even the first time) and, while I might be a lot slower than experienced staff, I still get through pretty quickly.

    Another thing is the perception of time – if you are waiting in a queue doing nothing but standing and waiting, time seems to go more slowly. When you are actively engaged in doing something productive, then time is perceived as going more quickly. It means the shopping experience ends on a more positive note with less frustration and boredom.

  6. I refuse to use self service checkouts unless I get a discount for serving myself!!!
    Apart from that, the loss of jobs does concern me, Big W have said they redeploy the staff in the store but I find that hard to believe.

  7. April, you raise a VERY good point… it will be a strategy to cot staffing costs, I’m sure. Why else?

    Any you raise an even better point that the retailers offer no discount to those of use willing to take the time to use their system…. food for thought!

  8. My nephew and I encountered these at Woolies in Sydney for the first time earlier this week.

    Aunt with hands full of purse and phone, 12 year old boy, too many items to puchase and new technology do not mix well. I’m sure the staff member who had to keep helping was glad to see the back of us.

    Went back later in the day with my neice. Two women, with a plan, some knowledge and many fewer things in our basket – worked much much better.

  9. My fiance and I tried the self checkout once at Safeway. What a disaster! The whole thing took a lot more time, there was very little room, it was very confusing, the “helper” wasn’t very helpful, it wasn’t explained very well and it left me in an angry mood, determined never to do it again.

    However if they were to give a discount I might try it again for that reason.

  10. I used the self-serve checkout at Big W the other day. First of all I had to wait for the staff member to fix an error the previous person had left the machine with.

    Then as I was putting my 1 item through, the pile of plastic bags that a staff member had left sitting on top of a partition behind the bag area all fell down & the machine kept on saying there was something in the bagging area that shouldn’t be there – even after I’d moved them! So then I had to wait for the staff member again to fix up the machine.

    So did it save me time? I don’t know, as there was a long line of people waiting for service from the sole checkout operator working at the time (around 6.30pm on a late night shopping night!!). I do know that my mood had changed by the time I got out of the store. Big W – lift your game!!

  11. Hello I am a cashier at ikea who has now worked on the express checkouts for 6 months now. You all provide valid points however when I am working on the self serve instead of traditional checkouts I find myself only telling the customers how to use the system rather than making sure people are not shop lifting. For example how to scan, swipe your card this way and the qn I get every two minutes where do I get my parking ticket validated. Only when the average customer is able to use the system without our help we will begin to loose our jobs which has not happened and does not look to occur in the near future. It is from the large demand for ikea products in the last 18 months all ikea stores in Australia an the world have moved to self serve checkouts. Lastly they are much quicker for the customer with a few items and who can pay by CARD but every day I will receive complaints about the lack of customer service.

  12. Carlos, where do I get my parking ticket validated?

    LOL, only kidding!

    seriously, I love IKEA. And I am glad that you don’t feel your job is jeopardised, very happy to hear that! I will remember that the self check out is best for fewer items, the other time I used self check out was at coles or Woolies and it we had an overflowing trolly. That was an even worse experience – but my fault – I was slow as I wasn’t practiced at using the scanner.

    Like any other kind of technology, I’m sure the success is variable: different users with different skill levels and the type and number of items being purchased.

    I would definitely try the IKEA self check out again. Keep up the good work Carlos!!

  13. Ditto the Woolies/Safeway and Big W self serve checkout love.

    Self serve is best for small items of a small number, but as someone earlier pointed out, be aware that some use a weight measure and large objects which don’t fit in the bag area will require help from the helper.

    I am not worried about a discount, it’s for convenience for me, but there are times self serve just isn’t appropriate, so I don’t think it will vanish all together.

    IKEA is the weirdest place to do self serve, there are so many more things that can go wrong! Can’t wait for the new IKEA in Springvale!

  14. I use them all the time in any store when I have my six year old daughter with me because she loves them. She loves playing grocery store attendant so she loves scanning the items and pushing the buttons on the payment system. Plus I hate people, so this way I don’t have to pretent to be friendly with anyone 🙂 For us introverts with kids it’s a godsend.

  15. Jessica, that’s funny! I tried the self serve checkouts again the other day – had only four items – and it worked beautifully, nice and fast.

    But I was very surprised that the staff member who “checked” my credit card didn’t check it at all, didn’t look at the signature. Perhaps if you’re a criminal and you have a stolen card, IKEA is the place to spend your money?!

  16. I prefer human interaction and am leery of the idea that self serve checkouts don’t cost jobs. (Yes, we know the companies do the big sell on how they don’t *really* cost jobs, but come now, show me the independent analysis!)

    I’m so tired of automated everything, especially when it doesn’t necessarily improve efficiency! (And seriously, get RID of automated phone call distribution/voice recognition! That has to be THE most inefficient system I’ve ever encountered!)

    So talk to me, smile or commiserate, and let’s just get the business transaction over as quickly and as painlessly as possible! *grins*

  17. I recently moved and miss having self-service checkouts at my new local supermarket. The lack of (or shorter) queues, being able to keep track of the sub-total, being the one responsible for not double scanning items, not having a cashier be annoyed at my reusable bags that don’t fit easily over the bag hangers. I’ve also worked out that if you don’t want a bag (at Coles at least), just put down your items in the bag area, not in a bag, and pick them up when you’re finished. And you can insert coins without select to Finish & Pay and it’ll automatically do it.

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