Expat Magazine

What's Changed in the UK Since 2006? - Self Check-outs

By Expatmum @tonihargis
So where was I? Oh yes, talking about changes in the UK, here and here. My book (see left) came out in 2006, for Americans visiting or relocating to the UK. Although it was mainly about the British culture and spirit, there were a few more practical elements, some of which have changed a bit since then.
Including how we pay for goods in shops. We have had self check-outs in the USA for several years now, but I hadn't noticed them in the UK until the last few years. (It's possible that I haven't been paying attention, but I do know they weren't around in 2006.)
I hate self check-outs with a passion. I fall for them every time. One glance at the mile-long queue/line for the real checkout has me once again contemplating the self check-out. A bit like childbirth isn't it? You think "Oh, it wasn't that bad", and then it all comes flooding back when it's too late. You're either in the stirrups, or you've unloaded your entire cart/trolley and there's half a dozen people behind you. No going back.
For some reason I thought the Brits would have cracked it, given that they have those handy table-side credit card processing machines which I have yet to see in the USA (and I live in Chicago, which has literally hundreds of restaurants.) British self check-outs wouldn't dare yell at you for not putting your stuff in the bag, when it's right there in the bag for all the world to see. They wouldn't stop the proceedings and shout at the top of their robotic voices that your'e just going to have to wait for a supervisor. And there would always be a supervisor somewhere in the vicinity wouldn't there?
Er, not in the Tesco Express in Covent Garden this summer. What a bloody nightmare. Only two proper tills staffed, which therefore forces you to stand in line for the self bloody checkouts. It never occurred to me that it would be quicker to stand for half an hour and have a real live person check me out, so I followed the other lemmings. I counted fifteen self-checkout machines, with one little sales assistant running from one raised hand to another. At one point there were more raised hands than there were people bagging their food.
So yeah, I'm afraid to say that it might be seen as an improvement by retailers, but I'd rather go back to pre-2006 and have a real person (who knows what they're doing) check me out. If you know what I mean.

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