Self-Checkouts are Slaps in the Faces of Customer Service

More and more lately, businesses have become very disrespectful to patrons of their stores, in the establishment of the practice of the self-checkout option offered to customers. In my mind, Self Service is a total, blatant, statement of disrespect for those who patronize those businesses that offer it.

Recently, I have gone into one particular Big Box store, located on Fairmount Avenue, where I had to stand in line waiting with about 15 other people sharing two lines awaiting to be checked out. While we were waiting, there was a supervisor, I guess, who just stood there watching people waiting to receive service. We did hear how we could use the self-checkout and probably get out of the store faster than waiting in that line and overhearing the person doing the personal checking out of customers tell the story of the antics of his three cats and what shenanigans they do in his home. Meanwhile, we waited.

Yes, I could have used the self-checkout, but in doing so, I become a free employee to that store. The store, by only opening two full-service checkouts, is hoping people will move to self-checkouts, so the customers will do the work for them. If I use the self-checkout, I am doing the work that a human being, made of flesh and blood, could and should be doing, and receiving a paycheck from that Big Box store, helping with trying to lower the unemployment rate. I receive no compensation from that store for working for them. I receive no lowering of the price of my items purchased, for doing the job they should be doing. If I got hurt while checking out myself, would I receive any kind of Workman’s Compensation, being that I was a temporary worker for that store?

Using the self- checkout continues to lower the standards of customer service. We already have been put in situations where people who are trying to take care of our needs in a store or office, while talking on the phone, many times engaged in personal, not business communications. We have had to unwillingly join the new and ridiculously impersonal world of automated receptionists when we call a business, or medical office, or whatever place that allows us to phone them. The wait time is outrageous, the music played while we wait is terrible, if we can hear it at all through the static, and the every 15 second interruption of that music to be told how important our call is to the company we are calling, is as annoying as the adventures of the three cats I had to listen to while standing in line at the Fairmount Avenue store.

This country has always stood behind the notion that the customer was always right, that the customer was always the number one priority, that customer service was the cornerstone of the philosophical foundation of a business. Boy, has that one been flushed the same place self-checkout machines should be flushed.

Customer service, in many businesses has been taken off the top shelf and put in a box underneath the bottom shelf. The respect for customers and patrons has become way to laid-back in these contemporary times. Customers are too-often casual-ized in being addressed and in how they are spoken to in taking an order, or asking how customers can be helped, etc.

We can’t, and shouldn’t have to, keep lowering the bar, the standards, the expectations, and accept mediocrity, complacency, and less than what should be the highest form of respect and appreciation for those who spend their hard earned money in a place of business, be it retail, medical, or anyplace else where Customer Service should be considered first in all aspects of running a company or business.

Please stop encouraging the use of self-checkouts. The more they are used, the more and more, we, the customers, are being disrespected.


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