Will Bueché

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Supermarket Self-Checkout is Intimidating

Posted in Personal by Will on Saturday, October 13th, 2007 ~ 5pm

Difficulty with social interaction — the ability to infer social cues — can also affect one’s relationship with supermarket self-checkout machines. I’ve always avoided these machines but the Safeway last week replaced most of their cashier lines with self-checkout machines.

So I scan my items — the prices of which are announced for everyone to hear in a synthetic voice not quite as annoying as the Sprint cellphone voice, and it reminds me to scan my Safeway card, and then it prompts me to swipe my debit card, which I do. I type my debit card password, and I decline any cash back, and then it starts repeating “Select payment. Select Payment. Select Payment.” And no receipt has come out. “Select payment. Select Payment. Select Payment.”

So I took my groceries and walked away from it and left, because I couldn’t understand if it was talking to me, or if it was talking to whoever it hoped would be next in line. Maybe if it used my name, I’d have known if it had been talking to me, but all I knew was that this machine repeating “Select Payment, Select Payment” was confusing me since I’d already entered my card info.

This was not my worst interaction with these machines though. My worst was a few months ago, when a different model of self-checkout machine started running the conveyor belt (it had a conveyor belt) backwards on me. I had no idea what it was trying to convey by doing that. I’m quite sure I left with free groceries that day.

I’ll have to check my bank statement online to see if I got the groceries free, or if the next person in line added their groceries to my bill. Hopefully not that. I’d rather know I paid than be left in question as to what the heck happened. Hmm…my bank shows the Jamba Juice I bought from Safeway on my way out, but so far it does not show my groceries. I guess their system failed and gave me free groceries (albeit only about $10 worth).

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