Self-service checkouts ‘lengthen supermarket queues’: UK survey

August 22nd, 2010 - 4:11 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Aug 22 (ANI): Do self-service checkouts take lesser time or do they just increase queue lengths in supermarkets? A new UK survey shows that it’s the latter.

Self-service checkouts were intended to bring an end to long supermarket queues, but research suggests some lines have lengthened since the technology was introduced.

The survey found that it is often quicker to choose the traditional method.

One in six customers experienced some kind of difficulty that delayed their purchase. Apart from the “unexpected item”message, other problems encountered include rejected banknotes, incorrect identification of fruit and vegetables and the need for staff to verify a customer’s age when alcohol is being purchased.

“We know that lots of our customers value the speed and convenience of self-checkouts, particularly when they are just popping in for a quick shop. However, we are committed to offering all our shoppers a choice between the two systems,” The Telegraph quoted a Sainsbury spokesman as saying.

“Investment we are making to new technology will enable customers to spend 12 per cent less time when using the checkouts, amounting to a time saving of over 500,000 hours a year,” he added.

Unions have raised concerns that customer frustration with the machines could put staff at risk.

“Our concern is that the use of self-service checkouts has become a flashpoint that can lead to abuse and violence against shop workers,” said John Hannett, general secretary of Usdaw, which represents shop workers.

“Frustrated shoppers experiencing problems using self-service checkouts can often take out their anger and frustration on the nearest shop worker, and this is both unfair and unacceptable,” he said.

However, Justin King, the chief executive of Sainsbury’s, recently said some customers might prefer to listen to music on headphones rather than talk to anyone. (ANI)

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