Unexpected item in bagging area

c: | f: /

If I hear that phrase one more time I’m going to hunt down the person who invented self-service checkouts and put an unexpected item in their bagging area.

Just one time I tried it. Put off by the huge queues at the few open conventional supermarket checkouts and the fact every other light stalk was winking for managerial help, I succumbed and stood waiting for one of the self service machines.

Eventually, one became available and there began the frustration. Here’s the event log:

  • Open bag, smooth it out so stuff goes in more easily.
  • “Unexpected item in bagging area”.
  • Wait for assistant to approach with barcode crib sheet which she scans to acknowledge the alarm.
  • Scan product.
  • Put in bag.
  • Scan product.
  • Alarm goes off.
  • Wait for assistant to approach with barcode sheet to acknowledge I’m old enough to buy bottle of wine.
  • Put in bag.
  • “Unexpected item in bagging area”.
  • Wait for assistant to approach with barcode sheet to cancel alarm.
  • Put wine in bag.
  • Scan box of paracetamol.
  • Wait for assistant to approach with barcode sheet to acknowledge — again — that I’m old enough to buy this item, just in case I got younger since last time. She’s busy helping someone else figure out why their alarm is going off, without success.
  • Get bored of waiting: ask another assistant to help.
  • “Sorry I don’t have authorisation”.
  • Give a look of genuine sympathy at the untrusted member of staff. She scurries off.
  • Wait some more while the flustered assistant waves her all-powerful barcode to acknowledge that the thirteen-year-old kid next to me can buy Spec Ops: The Line despite clearly being underage.
  • Assistant eventually acknowledges my alarm.
  • Scan second box of paracetamol.
  • Alarm goes off.
  • Wait for assistant to approach with barcode sheet to cancel alarm.
  • It doesn’t stop.
  • “Oh,” she says, “you can’t buy more than one of these at the self-service tills.”
  • “Why not?”
  • “You just can’t. Customer safety.”
  • “We ran out and I’m stocking up. You think I’m going to kill myself by buying two boxes of paracetamol? One box will kill me if I’m determined and drink all the wine I just bought to go with it. Or I could buy one box, go to a different machine and buy the other.”
  • She stares at me like I’m a Vogon hooker.
  • Shake head, put second box aside while she cancels the alarm.
  • Scan bread.
  • Wrong price appears.
  • Wait for assistant to figure out how to get the right price up. She can’t.
  • Wait for a trusted supervisor to approach and stab screen impatiently. I tell her to cancel the item instead. I’ll go without bread; it would be tainted anyway with the stench of technological and human ineptitude.
  • Alone again with the nemesis machine. It taunts me until I figure out which of the seven flashing orifices accept debit cards.
  • Pay.
  • Get the hell out of the store and swear never to use the machines.
  • Ever.
  • Again.

2 cats jibber-jabbered

    Marc

    Unrelated but I just saw this photo and I thought, “It’s Stef in 20 years!!!” Because I’ve seen your photo so much, no doubt.

    The photo at flickr

    Stef Dawson

    Oh man that’s scarily me. I’ll redouble my efforts to not look like that.

When fingers meet keyboard

(required)

(required, never made visible)

(optional, linked with rel="nofollow")

(required)