Kiosks – haven’t they got them just right?


barcode (Photo credit: Status Frustration)

I’m in a bit of a hurry. I only have a few items to buy, but when I round the corner, my heart sinks. There’s a big queue for the only cashier in the shop. I look over in the corner at the dreaded self-service machines. They all stand empty and there’s a member of staff standing near them. Oh no! She’s seen me. She’s going to come over and ask me to use the kiosks. I can’t refuse. I don’t want to look cowardly in front of this shop full of complete strangers. I grudgingly follow her over to the kiosk. A big green button flashes in front of me. Press here to start. I take a deep breath and hit it.

It takes a while to find the first barcode, during which time, the machine insists on blaring out to tell me to scan the barcode, so people start looking over. Eventually I find it and to my amazement, it scans first time. “Place the item in the bagging area“. I press the button to indicate that I don’t want to bag the item. “Place the item in the bagging area.” I hit it again, and once again, the voice repeats the instruction. With a sigh, I give up and reluctantly place the item in the bagging area. Thank God, the machine shuts up.

I scan the next item. It goes through first time and I place the item in the bagging area. Fantastic – I’m getting the hang of this now. I scan the third item. It won’t scan. I try again. Nothing. Third time lucky… no. The machine advises me to seek assistance. I look around for the lady who’s supposed to be supervising these damned kiosks – she’s not there! So I stand there, helpless, like a lemon waiting for her to return. I look forlornly at the checkout queue. I work out that I probably would have been served by now if I’d stuck to my guns and remained in the queue.

What is the point of a technical advance if it doesn’t make people’s lives better? This device makes the whole shopping experience worse, not better. But there again, I suppose that’s not the point. It’s there so that the miserly shop can get rid of some staff and save some money. But it deprives me of swift and courteous service. No smile or greeting. The efficiency of my entire shopping experience goes up in smoke, all to do someone out of a job.

If you’re going to put in kiosks, they should give you a better customer experience. ATM machines are not perfect, but they mean that I don’t have to queue up in a bank and I can get my money when the bank is closed. Check-in kiosks at the airport mean that I don’t have to queue up to get my boarding pass. Self service checkout kiosks just make me mad.


2 comments on “Kiosks – haven’t they got them just right?

  1. I’m not sure you’re right on this except for one store. Morrison’s self service checkout software is truly abysmal. However I regularly go to Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s and even B&Q and find they are absolutely fine. In fact a sign that people do think they work well is that there is often a bigger queue for self service than there is for the manned checkout in my local Sainsbury’s!

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