My local Walmart has just installed about 10 self-checkout registers. Now I live in the Florida county that has the second oldest population of any county in America. Further, this Walmart is located among a half dozen retirement communities, which after citrus farming is the number two industry in the area. There is also a large Spanish speaking population in the area, many of whom need special help to shop.
This noon I avoided the self-checkout and used the "20 items or less" line as I needed a few replacement staples for my fridge. I stopped by on my way home from the golf driving range where I normally put in a hour of practice early Sunday afternoons. I have golf rounds scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of this week. In front of me was an elderly lady (easy for me to say as many consider me an elderly man) who was having a rough time with her purse, credit card and the ID machine to process her payment. Luckily, there was helpful cashier who had to make four separate trips around the couter to help in the process.
I was patient and commented, “I can imagine what would happen to that lady if she tried the automated register check-out system.”
The cashier replied with a negative shake of her head, “I was on the help desk at the automated registers last night and it was a disaster. We had tie-ups on all stations, as people couldn't get them to work. It took about 3 times longer to check them out than normally. Nobody from corporate asked us about the problems that might crop up with these things."
I know that the self-check out technology saves money and is generally accepted by the public. But although I consider myself fairly computer literate, I shudder at the thought of being debased by a machine as it dehumanizes me into a servant that will follow orders or suffer the embarrass of having to ask for help. I give my dog more consideration than that. Maybe the design folks at Walmart should realize that half of the fun of shopping there is talking to the cashiers. Old people aren't all that concerned with the speed of the check-out process.