Saturday, February 5, 2011

My part-time job at the supermarket.

I'm not responsible for training supermarket cashiers, so I don't know exactly what they are required to do. I know that, in the old days when we used to go to supermarkets, cashiers would keep up with the customers and put the items in bags while they ran through the conveyor.
Now, I see that there are plastic bags on the customers' side of the aisle, which to me, is a not-so-subtle hint that the customers are now being encouraged to bag their own groceries. That's an interesting idea, since cashiers now only have to roll an item past a scanner and throw it down the line. If the sensor doesn't make a rude beeping sound or no sound at all, they don't give it a second look. This disturbing trend is exacerbated by chains like The Home Depot and Lowe's who have self-checkout lines. They make us think that it is a convenience to the consumer, when in fact it is a convenience to the retailer, since they don't have to pay cashiers.
While I struggle (comparatively) to place my items in my canvas bags, I must now simultaneously swipe my debit card and enter my PIN and push a few buttons while the items I am paying for pile up on the conveyor belt. All this is happening while the cashier is making small talk with one of her co-workers.
Eventually, I get the processing done and throw the remaining items in my bag. In the meantime, I wonder why it is necessary for a person to be on the other side of the aisle at all. After all, she's just rolling junk over a scanner. The rest of her job is being done by me - free of charge to the supermarket.
It makes me think that perhaps The Home Depot and Lowe's have the right idea.

5 comments:

Kcoz said...

Super markets are going the way of the old fashion service station, where one could pull up to the pump and have an attendant fill up your tank, wash your windshield and check your oil, all for 35cents a galleon. Now you pay $3 and have to do it all yourself, not to mention all the job losses affiliated with the word “Service”.

Supermarkets use to have a casher and a bag boy to pack your groceries, even help one take the same groceries to their vehicle. That bagboy is another service job lost to larger profits. Labor is one of the biggest expenses where corporations want to cut cost, no wonder there are no jobs, especially for young people. When I was young I worked as a bagboy/stockboy, than a casher, and made enough money to buy my own cloths for school, amongst other things.

I guess it won’t be long until we have public auto plants where one can assemble their own vehicle after they purchase it for $50,000.

Oh yea, I’ll take the Packers tomorrow.

junior alien said...

You're so lucky you don't live in Europe!

Well, come on over and experience ALDI ...
In case you don't know: At ALDI's they throw your items down the line in such a speed (for you to pack them of course) that you as the customer feel completely out of place - kind of unwelcome.
And probably you AREN'T welcome, as time is money and the customer is a disruptive factor in that process.

Anthony said...

I'm not sure how lucky I am not to live in Europe!
We have ALDI markets in the area, but I've never been in one. Maybe I'll stop in and see if I get the same treatment you get on the other side of the pond.

I could take all the extra work if the self-checkout gained me a small discount, but paying the same price for something regardless of the level of service is a bit difficult to rationalize.

junior alien said...

I totally agree with your point of view! At the same time, it's a very American way of looking at it: expecting service as a customer.
Over here, it's different. There is no tradition of service in the "world of commodities". Okay, it's exaggerated to say that we as the customers are supposed to be glad that the traders are selling us things at all, but the mentality used to be a bit like this. You know, there is a set expression for the level of service we used to have here: it's "service desert".
It has started to change lately, but it'll take some more time.

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