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The loves and hates of the self service checkout

Back in April, Morrisons announced that it was to reintroduce 1,000 staffed Express Checkouts for quick personal service. So what does the anti social cow think of the self service tills and the move to offer more staffed tills?

Is it the right move by Morrisons, not so long ago the big push was for more self-service tills?

I think it probably is. Most people who talk to me about supermarkets hate self service tills.  They feel for people who would have a job if it wasn’t for the self service till and many of us loathe them because they don’t always work and you have to call someone over because it doesn’t accept a coupon or doesn’t recognise an apple or asks if you are over 18 when you are 83, which annoys us as well as slows down the experience defeating the object.  Then you have our children trying to scan things twice and there are those of us who would say that actually it should be “10 items or fewer” not “less” of course! I think it is about having the choice and a balance of types of checkouts though. In theory I should love the self service checkouts, in reality they annoy me because they go wrong and then I have to ask someone for help which annoys me more than being served by someone wha talks to me!

Are the big four supermarkets returning to focus on service now rather than price? Sainsbury’s and Tesco have both promoted the fact that they have put more people on the shop floor.

I think they have to don’t they? The latest Which? campaign on supermarkets pricing confusions shows that they are all as bad as each other in pricing. This means that if a consumer is not using the discounters then there has to be something over and above choosing a supermarket on price. I think, as I have said many time before, the supermarkets simply need to listen to customers more. As I discussed here I don’t think Sainsburys are doing that very well at the moment. Tesco is certainly better at listening under Dave Lewis than his predecessor but he couldn’t have been more ignorant in my opinion! But they still have a looooong way to go if they really want to turn around Tesco fortunes.

Will more checkouts or self services speed up shopping?

Depends wholly on how many other tills are open and how busy they are! So long as they react to how many shoppers are on the floor at one time and don’t stay stuck on this is how many tills we have open at this time. They need to be proactive and ensure that there are enough tills open at all times. There was once was a time when a supermarket had the “more than one person in front – we will open another lane.” Putting that in place might be more effective

When I was on Radio 5 discussing self service there were two presenters. One liked the self service because he didn’t have to speak to anyone but like me hated the things that went wrong. I said the supermarkets need to bring in lines specifically for chatty people and another for us anti social people. He loved the idea suggesting Gaffa tape for the assistants. At the risk of assistants taking offence this did amuse me.

What are your thoughts on the self service checkout and do you use them?


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Tesco figures show that listening to customers pays off

Tesco figures show that listening to customers pays off 

Tesco has some good news at last to share at its AGM today. The first quarter trading statement shows an improvement in UK like for like sales of 1.3% and an increase of shoppers by 180,000. Consumer rights blogger, Helen Dewdney aka The Complaining Cow and author of “How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!”, is not surprised by the figures. Having met Dave Lewis a few times, she believes that he is being true to his word that he is listening to customers, as he has promised. “Couponing instead of just reducing prices has been something that customers have been complaining about for years” she says. “At long last Tesco is looking at this issue and it is paying off.” Whilst the supermarket price wars continue there is a point at which they will all have to flatten out and it is at that point that the supermarkets will have to offer something over and above prices to entice in customers. In contrast with competitor Sainsbury’s, which recently announced its first annual loss in 10 years, Tesco is certainly on a turnaround, the result, suggests Dewdney, of some real improvements internally and externally. Dewdney says “It looks like Tesco may be starting to lead the way in providing something different. It still has a long way to go in improving service and in other areas but Lewis has made a good start including taking the lead in ethical issues such as working with charities in distributing food that would normally have been thrown away.”  

Notes to editors:


Website: “How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!” by Helen Dewdney, current Amazon consumer guide bestseller having recently reached number 1 in Kindle and 3 in paperback and a 3rd edition is forthcoming.