>>why this bewildering disengagement from the human touch?


I popped into a local supermarket the other night and found myself, yet again, being coerced into using one of those self-service checkout tills by a zealous assistant who insisted that I should start using this wonder of the modern age as it was, apparently, better for me.
The store was busy, the row of self-checkout tills was seeing plenty of action and everybody seemed happy. But you know, I still don’t get it. As I stood there, trying to work out why I needed ‘operator assistance’ to buy a few razor blades, and the queue behind me started to grow longer, I found myself questioning the value of service industries investing in technologies that actively disengage customers from the business.
Once upon a time, you used to be able to call the local branch of your bank and sort out any queries with your account. Today - so the bank can deal with your query more quickly, be more convenient and so make your life easier - you have to ring a central number and negotiate with a machine for 20 minutes before it will let you near a human being. I find the same is true of practically every aspect of my life - whether it’s buying cinema tickets or booking a doctor’s appointment.
Is this really where we plan to end up in retail? Do we seriously want a situation where shoppers pop into our stores, don’t say hello to anyone, deal with a machine and get out asap? Perhaps we do. That’s progress folks. After all, when grocery stores switched over to the self-service supermarket model in the 1950s, I am sure there were those who criticised this new-fangled idea and said it would never work. They were wrong about that, and I am probably wrong about this. But I can’t help feeling that modern life really is rubbish.

Blimey! Someone is brave enough - or daft enough - to want to breathe new life into Kwik Save. Like many, I had thought the stores would be sold off by the new team at Somerfield and the brand would simply disappear from our high streets, like so many other famous retail names. That would have been a shame - but we know there’s no room for sentimentality in this business. Kwik Save’s owners face an incredibly difficult job; some would say it’s impossible. We wish them well.
modern life is rubbish
can it be saved?