foone Profile picture
21 Feb, 31 tweets, 4 min read
My second most hated part of the self checkout experience is the helpful "please take your items" reminder.
Firstly it's just silly who needs to be reminded of this? Who shops, collects a bunch of items, takes them to the self checkout, scans them, pays for them, then forgets what they are doing and fails to take their newly purchased items?
I zoned out enough to tweet about my ADHD test while I was taken it, and even I am not that distractable/forgetful
But secondly and more importantly, the reminder IS A LIE
Because here's the thing: you put your shopping down on a digital scale. That's how the machine knows your shopping is still there to yell at you about.

It's not there with no info except "user is still at station", and is confused as to why, so it gently reminds them what the next step of the shopping experience is
Instead it has an exact value of how much weight is on the scale and how it keeps going down over time, as the customer keeps removing items to bag them and put them in their cart
So it's phrased as a reminder to take your items even though you know that's not what it means and it knows that's not what it means.
So why does it exist?
Simple, because it actually means HURRY THE FUCK UP
It isn't reminding you to take your items, as if you might have forgot.
And the facade of it being a polite reminder is a very thin one. It is merely phrased that way to avoid complaints.
The ones at my local store will even escalate the "reminder" if you take too long. After 3 or 4 warnings, it goes into "checkout is broken" mode and starts flashing the CALL ATTENDANT light to get a human over here
And frankly I hate everything about this. It's bad enough when humans are being rude because they want to get back to making money, it's extra insulting to have a computer doing it under the thin guise of being "helpful"
My third most hated thing is the phrasing of the membership card reminder. At my local Safeway it goes "have you scanned your club card? If not, do that now!"
First of all, this is the same kind of consent-ignoring antipattern as those "register now? [yes] [remind me later]" dialog boxes. It's is intentionally ignoring the possibility that you don't have and don't want to scan a club card.
It pre-assumes you have one and may have just forgotten to scan it.
But secondly, and far more annoying to me, as a computer programmer...

What is this "have you" and "if not" business? YOU ARE the machine i scan it into! If anyone knows if I have scanned it yet, IT IS YOU
Don't pretend you don't know if I scanned a card yet. You know full well I haven't yet, and you're phasing it like an uncertainty in order to soften the impact. You actually mean "you didn't scan a card yet. Do that now"
My particular local machine makes this far dumber because of how it integrates phone number fallback.
See, if you have a card, you don't need to actually bring that card with you. It's linked to your phone number, so you can just enter that.
And the machine doesn't trigger the "hey, you forgot to scan your club card idiot, do it now" prompt until after the first item is scanned without a card being scanned, because they expect you to scan your card before your items.
Except here's the stupid part:
You can't get to either of the "enter your club card-connected phone number" prompts until you have started a checkout session, which you initiate by scanning your club card, or your first item.
In other words, if you decide to not carry your club card, or just don't want to bother digging it out of your purse, IT WILL YELL THE REMINDER AT YOU EVERY TIME because it's not possible to do the thing it's reminding you to do, until AFTER IT HAS REMINDED YOU
Anyway that's the second and third most hated thing about self checkout.
The most hated thing is admittedly localized to my Safeway, and it's that they usually don't have any plastic bags out and make you ask the self-checkout supervisor for them after you paid for them.
Because God forbid you be able to checkout from a store in the middle of a pandemic without having to get up close to at least one person who had been dealing with every single customer that day.
If we didn't have superspreaders we might put the doctors out of work!
(the other bonus to this is that half the time while you do this, someone comes up to your register and starts trying to check out and gets annoyed that it won't work and you're wasting everyone's time by not taking your shit away, and now they have to get back in line)
You'd think this would be a simple obvious easy problem to solve, after all, California has spent the last couple years trying to get everyone to switch to reusable bags, right? Just bring your own bags, use those, then you don't have to talk to anyone!
No, you still get up close and personal with the official Superspreader employee as they come over to tell you that, because of the pandemic, you're not allowed to use reusable bags now.
Well, that's not technically true. They still sell them, so you are allowed to use them if you just purchased them right then and there.
You just aren't allowed to reuse the reusable bags, that'd be madness.
Can you tell I just got out of the grocery store and it was a really anxiety inducing experience and I'm venting to calm down?
Because I did, and I am.

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