As I was dragging my temperamental and hugely tired daughter (LM) around Tesco today, I was already asking the question “should I self-scan today or wait in the queue?.” Its a question I ask myself almost everytime I go to a supermarket these days.
When I first heard about self-scanners a smile the size of canary wharf appeared on my face. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll probably guess that I was really excited about the idea of scanning barcodes on my own – leave me to the technology I can do it!
Then reality set in. It wasn’t quite as straightforward as it looked, or as time-saving, or as much fun as I thought it would be. In fact, it was a real chore. If you’ve ever tried it at Morrisons you’ll know what I mean. Any little thing can cause an error and with only one person on-call to help, it got pretty painful pretty quickly.
Barcodes on frozen food were almost impossible, anything with a tag was a nightmare, over 18/alcohol products – forget it, bad packaging, special offers, fruit and veg. You name it, if it wasn’t a straightforward cereal box, the scanner would refuse and flash up an error.
Then there was the bagging process. You have to put the product into the bag before you can continue scanning. I’m sure there’s an art to this, but everything I put into the bag is a problem. Don’t even try to buy a product from the craft section – a packet of stickers for your child? Forget it. It weighs as much as a feather and the self-scan would rather throw up a bag of frozen peas then move onto the next product.
Its not just the self-scanner either. If you, like me, go round supermarkets with kids the decision is even harder. If I self-scan I have a constant fight with LM not to remove anything from the bags once they’ve been scanned. Its a fight that’s usually not worth having as bells and lights start flashing and a bored assistant swipes their card, rolling their eyes each time.
If I decide to line up in a normal checkout, then I have to keep a constant eye on her as she wanders off to whatever takes her fancy – usually a ride-on machine that the supermarket has tortured parents with not only outside the store these days, but at the end of the checkout lines. Or, on worse days and usually at Morrisons (again) who seem to have the most useless exits, making sure LM doesn’t force her way through closed checkout lines and those pointlessly annoying emergency exit barriers – causing all the alarms to go off.
All in all, on top of the hassle of grocery shopping, plowing through dubious promotions and price changes, supermarkets have made it even harder as I have to make my choice how I prefer to buy my shopping as well.
What about you? Do you prefer the self scanning checkouts or queue in lines waiting for a cashier?