Today’s headlines have been dominated by the menace of self-scan tills. (That, and the revelation some X-Factor contestants can’t really sing.)
This blanket coverage comes after figures from The Grocer supposedly confirmed they don’t work. Except that our numbers say nothing of the sort.
More than two months ago, we revealed that average queue times at Tesco and Sainsbury’s had gone up by five and 10 seconds respectively. How this translates to self-scan checkouts not working is anyone’s guess but, as they say, why let facts get in the way of a good story?
The media frenzy does, however, reflect the strength of feeling self-scan tills conjure up. We’ve all used them and, no doubt, have at some point been infuriated by one.
That happens with technology. Those of us who work in an office are frustrated by emails, computers and printers every day. But nobody is seriously suggesting a return to quill and parchment.
Progress is progress and the supermarkets are simply offering choice. They know better than most if the tills work and whether or not their customers want them. Right now, it seems that they do.
The latest furore is clearly just another stick with which to beat the supermarkets – like all the people saying they don’t want a new store in their town, only for it to be crammed with shoppers once it opens.
The rise of the machines is a fact of modern life and supermarkets are no different to any other business in this regard.
Of course, we’ll know who’s to blame if the tills some day become sentient and make us their slaves. Maybe we should take comfort in the fact they’re still flummoxed by any “unexpected item in the bagging area”.