• http://greyautumnrain.livejournal.com Elizabeth

    I have used one of those machines exactly once. I do not have a small child and I’m usually quite good with machines, but the conclusion I was left with was that the darn things were not really ready to be put into the marketplace. I now shop at the other grocery store. It has less selection but they only have actual live cashiers.

  • Jessie

    Thanks Dooce. Because of you, I yielded more than a few strange glances at Ralph’s when I was cracking up over using that damn machine…

  • katie

    i have made such an ass outtah myself in those self checkout lanes. cuz the mother fucking things never work!!! and then they’re only for people with no more than 15 items but you always gots those dildo heads that will scan their whole basket full of 100 items in self checkout. then i ened up huffing and puffing and actin’ da fool. it ain’t right! and i feel ya. my 3 year old hates the buggy too. :)

  • http://bettycrockerass.blogspot.com/ BettyCrockerAss

    I only like them when I get to “forget” to scan stuff. I guess I didn’t do enough shoplifting as a kid!

  • Chelle

    That is why I have no problem paying for broccoli when I actually have broccoli rabe…or romaine for bok choy. I love the produce/no barcode screen….shhhhhh!

  • Brian

    I don’t why, but the idea just struck me.

    Outsourced caring = euphemism for prostitution.

  • http://www.WildTravelDeals.com Catherine Banks

    I just had a co-worker who was going to the store pick up a $25 gift card for me. I gave her my credit card.

    She went through the self checkout and the “attendant” asked to see her ID for the gift card “because of fraud”. She showed her ID..paid with my credit card..the two names are nowhere near similar.

    They didn’t even notice.

  • http://maisonpants.com Ms. Pants

    My local grocery put in several self-checkouts a few years ago as a means to cut down on overhead costs by hiring fewer baggers and checkers (or perhaps firing a cadre of the ones they already had). They didn’t lower any prices significantly to encourage me to shop more or use those self-check lanes so I didn’t. No one else did either. But we all complained about them. Loudly. The machines lasted a month and then were removed entirely. Whee!!

    I can carry a bagillion plates to the table and not drop one or stick my fingers into any food. I was a waitress so that’s a skill I retained. But I never checked groceries and therefore, I’m rendered immediately retarded when faced with a self-check lane. Just ask the guy at Home Depot who had to reboot the entire system when I broke it last week by doing…. something.

  • http://theboldsoul.com The Bold Soul

    Brava to you for telling it like it was. I thought customer service in America was going down hill. Then I moved to Paris where it is non-existent, and my French isn’t even good enough for me to tell them off when I want to!

  • bonkersmomof4

    I just do almost all of my shopping at Aldi, where people somehow usually know how to behave themselves and act COURTEOUS. Very strange, I know, but that whole system works for me. Maybe it’s the mix of poor old people and large families… I’m not sure, but I have the best times shopping at the one in Bartlett. It’s like visiting with new friends every time!

    Self checkout is directly from hell.

  • Tina

    While I’m not a huge fan of self checkouts, I use them whenever possible. Why? Because after a long day at work, it sure beats having to put up with the dimwits my grocery store employs. The cashiers pop their gum, mutter, mumble, throw my groceries around, smash my bread, give me the wrong change and then act like I ought to be dammed grateful they allowed me to buy food in their store. I end up all pissed off and wishing evil thoughts on cashiers everywhere.

    So, even though the self checkouts suck, they don’t suck as bad as the humans. I’d rather be frustrated with a stupid machine than with a stupid human.

  • Pamela

    I don’t want to be stoned or anything, and I’m ducking as I write this, but I actually prefer the self-checkout. Sure, it is a pain in the ass when the stupid thing invaribly tells you to take your first item & “place the item in the bag.” Or a “Please wait for assistance” for no discernable reason. HOWEVER, It does mean no bananas thrown on top of the bread, or every canned item slipped in one bag when your eyes were turned for an instant. And I freely admit I am not herding a toddler while I do this.

  • Micha

    The person who deserves the salty comments is the guy telling you to control your kid.

    Those machines eat my money on a regular basis.

  • http://soulprncs2.wordpress.com/ Wendy

    I simple tell the machine to go to hell, bag up my child, throw my groceries in the basket and walk out the grocery store. If a business can’t pay to fake caring, then I shouldn’t have to either.

  • Emily

    I have some mixed experience with this…I do use them (though only one grocery store in my area has them and I don’t often go there, just for odds and ends after the gym, since it’s close). I worked in a grocery store, so I know all about “Outsourced Caring” (my store did not have self-checkouts). I always feel bad using them because I believe that going to a clerk justifies them having a job–even if it’s a shitty job, people still have bills to pay. But when I only have a couple of items it is soooo much faster (I’m also childless so it makes it easier for me). And I bring my own bags too, so I fake out the machine by just setting the item on the bagging platform and throwing it in my bag when I’m done paying. I hate when it yells at me about my purse though, girl has to set it down somewhere to find the debit card!

  • http://www.wordydiva.com Lisa B-K

    Self-checkouts put people out of work, which sucks. I suspect the bottom line is the real reason we see them everywhere, not “convenience”.

    That and they seem to deeply irritate the people who do end up having to use them.

  • Memikeyounot

    I’m probably the oldest of your blog(59 soon) and have recently had my job “outsourced” to India, or as we like to call it, being “Banglored, ” so I love the new term you’ve invented.

    I’m fairly technically savvy and seldom if ever write a check, so I generally like the self-checkouts since I don’t have to wait behind the woman writing the check (and then has to balance her checkbook)or the gal with coupons for 20Cents off a can of corn. But I do agree they can be a little cantankerous.

  • http://.whyrustalkingme.com Usedtobeme

    Those self check out machines are pissy little gadgets and godforbid you need help because the cashier is positive I’ve been sent to ruin her life.

  • Nancy

    I hate the self-checkout machines. The angry little robot inside is so anal! One day my husband and I had to run numerous errands and at each store we used the self-checkout and had problems every time. We eventually got tickled about it and it became a hilarious quest to get through ONE store successfully. At the last stop my husband pushed the “Spanish” button (note: neither of us speak Spanish), and much to our amusement everything worked perfectly!

  • http://decafisasin.blogspot.com Chris

    These machines are only good for a single person buying ten items or less, rather than two slow-moving combative old ladies and an overflowing shopping cart.

  • M

    Hello. I used to work at one of these self scanners for years, and I figured out how to use them in a fairly quick and efficient manner. The thing to remember is that the whole operation depends on the weight scale where the bags are, but any problems you have can be fixed by a real human being who is watching from the other side with a little camera.

    When I use the U-scan, I scan an item, place it in the bag, and watch for the screen to clear and the machine to shut up before I scan the next item.

    Even if the screen says, “Hey, take the item out, and scan it again, then do a little dance,” I still just leave the thing in the bag, and wait a second. It’s faster than the regular check-out, if you are able to keep children (or anyone else) from touching the scale. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much impossible to use for any parents who consider keeping their children in duct tape cacoons abusive.

  • http://www.myquietthoughts.blogspot.com Helen

    Even in England..and I never use them if I have kids with me, they ALWAYS lean on the damn bag thing and then I get yelled at by the machine for UNAUTHORISED ITEM IN THE BAGGING AREA! I talk back to it too, so I look like a luntic into the bargain. Hate those damn machines.

  • Amanda

    I love how people think you care A LOT about the phrase “Outsourced Caring” and they say things like “You didn’t think that up! Sorry, nice try! You think you’re so smart!”.

    I love the internet, and while these comments are not as good as youTube comments, (my person favorite is “Suck a bag of dicks!”) they’re still good. And by good I mean mostly ridiculous.

  • dangers.mom

    I love all the “Why didn’t you just leave your kid at home?” comments. Yes, because that’s the real problem and is always an option. “I’m so sorry you’re hungry and thirsty Leta but Daddy is out of town so we can’t go to the market until next Tuesday! Here’s some carboard to chew on!”

    Self check out machines suck. I remember when they put them into the brand spanking new Albertson’s they built in Culver City. NO ONE could make those stupid machines work. They were either encouraging you to steal with the “put your item in the bagging area!” or accusing you of stealing with the “unexpected item in the bagging area!”

    Now we live in small town Ventura county. The only store with self check out is Home Depot and still people are willing to wait in lines that wrap around the store twice to avoid using it.

  • Nat W

    I use the self-checkout if I only have a few items, but the damn machine always fucks up something. I was trying to buy Reese’s once, and it kept on saying, “This barcode is not recognized!” over and over again, and I wanted to cry. How dare they keep me from my Reese’s?? And of course the attendant didn’t give a shit. I finally just gave up. Arg. I wanted to cry.

    The reason I still use self-checkout? I really love scanning things.

    (Ooh, one of my words to type in below was Arkansas. How the fuck do they know where I live??)

  • Kim

    I know this has nothing to do with your post about self checkouts…. but this is the best Spencer After Show clip ever
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=hmU4DFLQDIA&feature=related

  • Anonymous

    Self-Checkout is nearing the bottom rung of our descent into total human isolation. Not hyperbole. However, I agree with your diagnosis of the machine. Most malfunctioning computers, machines as well as humans just need a right good fucking to right things:)

  • Adrienne

    I must share one fun experience my roommate and I had with the attendant assigned to the evil machines. We were at a very big chain here in Boston and they have a discount card that you must swipe in order to get the sales of the week. Hers is attached to her keychain, and the machine was having trouble reading it, getting stuck in the ‘remove item from bagging area’ loop, and when the lovely employee came over to check, she swiped the card once more…. didn’t work. So she tried it again with him watching… still didn’t work. She said something along the lines of “see, it’s not reading my card!” And out of no where he screamed THAT’S BECAUSE YOU ARE EVERY TIME SWIPING YOUR CVS CARD!!

    Sometimes when we get frustrated with technology in our home we holler that at each other.

  • Anonymous

    Oh come on people. Where’s your sense of adventure. I go to the “self” check out for FUN! When I have liquor in my cart (yes, in NH and Maine)and that FORCES them to care. They have to care how old I am! And I’m a 54 year old Grandmummy!

    If I have my grandkids with me, 3 and 6, I give them the privilege of scanning the items. They always do it “wrong” and mess with it before they put it in the bag. This sends employees running in my direction to “care.” Sometimes, the kids take shit OUT of the bag and put it in a different bag. This makes the robot repeat itself like a freakin parrot. And THEN what happens? The employees come a runnin to see what we’re trying to STEAL. They REALLY DO CARE!! I SHIT YOU NOT!!

    Tons-o-fun. Try it. Sadistic passive aggressive behavior can be very satisfying.

    XXXXXXXX
    The Grandmummy

  • http://www.kelleyroo.com Kelley

    I hated these machines at first, because they were just awful. But it seems like the more they pop up, the easier they are to use. Friendlier too.

    I’m from Nashville and I haven’t really been anywhere that doesn’t allow you to checkout with an actual human being, thank god.

  • Anonymous

    i hate spencer pratt more than i hate self-checkout machines. he fucking sucks and i just don’t understand why heidi can’t see that.

  • Plot

    The self-checks replace checkers; they put checkers out of jobs.

    I refuse to use them because I do not want to be part of the reason why someone can’t get a job. That’s just way totally not cool.

  • stacey

    i always get excited about using those machines, maybe because i feel like i’m three years old and playing store again, heh. but every time, it gets mad at me because something is wrong with how i have placed it in the bag. really? how many ways are there to bag something?? you’d think i would given up on them by now..

  • http://www.uncouthheathen.com Linsey

    My partner works at a library and they, too, have self check-out. It’s easier than those piece of shit scanners at the grocery store, though. I have to say, in the world of the library, it appears that some people might just be too retarded to work any machine, because they can’t follow directions.

    What makes me mad about my grocery store is the guy who is supposed to be helping when their machines go insane. He always leaves – wanders around to the bakery or god knows where – and then suddenly there is a pile-up because now every station isn’t functioning properly. There’s been a time or two where I’ve actually just left because it took him SO LONG to come back.

    Oh, I’m mad just thinking about it.

  • http://www.sparksandbutterflies.com Michele

    I went to one of those things to buy a couple of little items at my local drugstore. It was something really lightweight, like a hair doohickey or something, feather light, attached to a piece of cardboard packaging. The damn machine kept yelling at me to put it in the bag. I wanted to pick it up by the neck and scream, “It IS in the bag numbnuts now give me my receipt!!”

  • Eva

    I’m working my first ever management position and one of the first battles I took on when I took the position was “Outsourced caring.”

    I have a sign hanging in our break room that says, “Congratulations, you’ve given great service for ___ days.” Service complaints are logged, and when one is received, the number gets set back to zero.

    I also have a sign by the door that says, “The best service you can give us is speaking up when you don’t get our best service.”

    And really, it is. Walking out may feel better in the short term, but you’ll just be back screaming at the machine again next week if you don’t speak up then and there.

  • http://amysmagnumopus.wordpress.com AmyM

    Yikes! I hate it when other people look upon my children as if they are the cause of all that is wrong with the world. Only I get to do that!

    Hate those self-check out machines. But is sometimes faster to check out one or two items, rather than waiting in line for 40 minutes because there is one lane open with a real live cashier.

    My sister always selects “Spanish” as her preferred language. We’re small town white girls… it makes people stare.

  • dewi

    I like humans.
    I enjoy being nice and friendly to the checkout person. I spend the day at a computer or a on a phone. It’s the right thing to be nice and friendly to people who are low paid, and working too hard for their money.

  • Jen

    Every time I go to CVS I use their stupid self-checkout, and every time I’m left wondering how I managed to block out their evilness. Always, always, I’m reduced to screaming “IT *IS* IN THE BAG, GOD DAMMIT!” in my head. One of these days I’ll scream it out loud. Don’t even get me started on the Home Depot machines that are not calibrated finely enough to sense the weight of various tiny products one might buy there.

    I must say, though, I like Giant’s self-checkout machines very much. The programmers seem to have abandoned the psychotic control freak personality in favor of a more laid back one. It’s like the machines just kick back and say, “Whatevah, it all good.”

  • webgrrlie

    while i agree with you (for the most part), and TOTALLY sympathize, we have a couple of cashiers at our local grocers who are borderline nosey. and this particular grocers doesn’t have self-checkout yet, but oh! what we would give for it when either of these people are the only checkers available.

    like your cereal, they carry these particular pickles that no one else local carries. they are those large dill ones that are individually bagged? so my husband may by 8-10 at a time, every two or three days. and god forbid the same checker is there two visits in a row, because they invariably say something rude, like, “didn’t you just buy some of these the other day?” or “wow, you sure do like pickles!”

    and not to go on and on, but there is another checker, who as each person departs, always says, “see you tomorrow,” which i find particularly annoying. as i said, in certain cases, i would give anything for self-checkout…

  • Leslie

    What is even worse than the checkout MACHINE yelling at you is the little man “attendant” that yells at you that you are doing it wrong. I wish I could blame my five year old, but it was my 40 year old boyfriend that was leaning on the rail and moving the bags. The attendant proceeded to yell at me (far louder than really necessary) how to properly use the checkout machine, when he really should’ve been telling the man with the PhD leaning on the railing and removing the bags prematurely…

  • Debi

    This is hilarious!

    I was at IKEA on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (which, by the way has started a expensive chain of bad luck–punctured tires, etc.) and found that only the four self checkout lanes were opened.

    That was my last trip ever to IKEA.
    Tag, and you can kiss my derriere.

  • Malinda

    If I wanted to check out my own groceries I would fucking grow them my self in my own back yard.

  • me

    I hate those machines. Just absolutely hate them. You should have sucker punched it and the stupid human who came over with attitude.
    I have a 2.5year old son and I can’t put him in the shopping cart either. Screams like someone put a knife to his throat. So you are not alone! Hang in there! Sometimes I want to kill myself for having thought I could handle a baby/toddler/totally other human being. But now I’m stuck with him. Hurray.

  • Meeshell

    The only answer that girl deserved was “go f*ck off”

  • http://www.unhandledexception.ca Lia

    I once got a blue screen of death at a self checkout. It was just when I was paying with my credit card.

    I had to re-do everything and it turns out that the original transaction went through so I had to get a refund for the second transaction three weeks later.

    I now go to the more expensive stores so I can have a real cashier.

  • jen

    I almost feel off my chair laughing, I want to alternativly slam my grocery basket on the sensor or at the employees who just stand there and watch as it says for the umpteenth time “please remove item from bagging area”.

  • http://slurpinglife.typepad.com/ melody

    There was the time I had trouble with the self-checkout. I was my 3 younger sons…picture cerebral palsy, Bipolar/ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome and each of them in a melt down. The cashier who “oh my God!” had to help me…after looking the boys up and down her nose…said, “Lady, can you spell R-I-T-A-L-I-N?”

    Now I’m not a person of foul language or impolite behaviors or murderous acts…except for that one time.

  • http://www.diysheffield.co.uk Chris

    The thing that people always forget about self service machines? They don’t stop you stealing things.

    Think of that as their little perk, your moment to get your own back on the faceless corporation that thought it had finally got you to give up your money without them needing to worry about anything so dangerous as a little “personal touch”.

    The machine tells you to rescan the item? It’s time to put that item in the carrier bag on the shelf NEXT to the computerised weighing plate.

    And if the store guard sees? No problem, cause I think you’ll find that they’re not paid to care either.

  • http://blog.knit-n-spin.com bipolarbear

    I have a love/hate relationship with the self-checkout. Love because then I don’t have to deal with the moron they’ve hired to run the register, who doesn’t speak English, and who bags all the groceries with the aplomb of a mayfly on acid. Hate them because they rarely work all the way through a transaction, and so far, the prices haven’t come down at all.