Friday, March 05, 2010

Don't fall for this.

I have expressed many opinions on this blog since it's quietly anonymous start back in 2004. This however may be my first actual cause. I am asking you:

Don't use the self check out at the grocery or retail store.

“But Dan!” I hear you say, “It's faster when I have a few things and it's nicer for the baggers!”

Is it?

See, here's my first issue with these infernal devices: They aren't faster because the people trying to use them (and I completely include myself in this list) don't know HOW to use them. How do I deal with fruit which has no barcode? What happens when the scale doesn't register that I bagged my item? How do I delete when I double scanned? Sure there's a friendly employee there to help out, but in that case, why didn't he or she just check me out in the first place? The whole line would have moved faster for all of us had Friendly Employee simply did it the first time, mistake free (whole 'nother argument whether or not friendly employee would be that efficient- maybe another time). However, my main reasoning for calling this boycott has to do with helping out Friendly Employee.

You've all seen how it works: four to eight self check-outs, one employee. Statistically, that means the corporation (where we see these, Wal-Marts, Safeways, etc...) can hire about a third less cashiers. Or even lay off or cut hours on those they have. More money for the corporate HQ, less for those who work for them. Let's be honest though; if the overhead is down, and I save money at the store, I may be willing to overlook automation putting the single parent down the street out of work.

Has YOUR grocery bill gotten cheaper? Indeed, do you even get a discount using the auto-check? Let's review how this works. Corporations buy stuff to sell you wholesale, and then mark it up to pay for the cost of the goods, the cost of shipping and stocking, and the cost of paying employees to serve you! This means, when you choose to use self check out, you are momentarily working for the company! You're not getting any cash benefit (a discount), and you are still giving the store money to have someone check you out, but you are doing it for them. Do you think that money is showing up in employees raises? Is that money allowing stores to hire MORE employees? I doubt both those points, but if someone can show me either is happening, I will be happy to post a retraction. I have a feeling though this cost saving measure is going only in to corporate coffers.

Now, I'm a big capitalist- I don't mind corporations making money fairly and through ethical business practices. I certainly don't begrudge the cashiers- regardless of my occasional bad experience, these are some of the hardest working people in the American workforce. They deserve to be paid and employed. I do not however, have to allow myself to be blatantly robbed by Wal-Mart. I have paid for the service, and I want the service.

Recently I was shopping at Safeway, and it was crowded. I had four items. Guess what wasn't open? The express lanes. My choice was pay Safeway to let me check myself out, or stand behind the line with people with full baskets. I stood and waited.

And so did others. Within minutes, four people with low item counts eschewed the self check line, and got behind me. Safeway then opened the express lane.

Seeing we can make a difference, I ask you! Don't use the self check out! Don't pay a store to let you check out! Keep capitalism fair and demand the service you pay for!

And may God have mercy on us all!

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