Saturday, April 1, 2017

Kroger Automation

A few weeks ago Kroger updated the software on their self-checkout stations. They are very annoying. By the time I can attach two reusable bags to the frames, it asks 5 or 6 times "are you using your own bags?". The attendant now has to come to your station and scan their badge to approve beer & wine purchases. It announces the price of each item and immediately tells you to place the item in the bag. On produce, when you enter the PLU # or name, it repeats every number or letter you key in. It repeats your total bill when you hit the "pay now" button and then proceeds to give excruciatingly detailed instructions on how to check out. Of course, Chatty Kroger Kathy reminds you to remove your bags and take your receipt before leaving, multiple times. Please and thank you apparently aren't in the new vocabulary.

I realize that the self-checkout kiosks need to verbalize some instructions, especially for newbies. But do they have to browbeat the customer and not allow even a nanosecond to elapse for an action to be completed before a scolding? "Resistance is futile."

I know, why don't I just go to a human cashier? The main reason is that I normally ride my bike to the grocery store. That means I have a limited amount of cargo space. It also means that the ride home is easier and safer if the load is balanced. It doesn't have to be exact, but I don't want 25 lbs. in one sack and only a bag of chips in the other. I might tip over. Cashiers and baggers have no clue about that. They are used to putting just a couple of items into those plastic bags. Besides balance, when you load up two reusable bags there is a good chance that the crushable stuff will wind up on the bottom. It gets even more crushed during a bumpy bike ride home. I don't have shocks on my bicycles.

So you see, I'm stuck between two dilemmas. I either put up with an annoying automated bitch or less than competent bagging.

The old self-checkout software was OK, only annoying at times, not always. I wonder how many marketing, design, and psychology geniuses worked on this new improved customer interface? Or maybe they just let the antisocial geek programmer in the back of the IT department write it without any input. Either way, I'm sure nobody involved with the upgrade actually uses self-checkout.

I fully realize that this is a first-world problem but hey, I live in a first-world country.


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