Friday, 11 December 2009

Am I the only person

who finds the self service checkouts springing up everywhere unbelievably irritating? Having decided that £40 was a bit much to spend on a Christmas tree, we retreated to B&Q who now have cheap Christmas trees (good) but now have these wretched self service things installed. The chap in the queue before us gave up, dumped his stuff, and left, and after the machine had been re-set, it was our go. It's the voice that gets me - all calmly reasonable, and so bloody bossy. Do this... do that.... Pay now... tolerant pause ... Pay now... further tolerant pause... Pay now.... by which time, the idiot human (me) at the other end is steaming, as all payment methods are at the right hand side, apart from the one I want, which is to the left, which Miss Bossy doesn't see fit to mention. Then being reminded "Don't forget your receipt" makes me want to scream "NO you bossy mare, I won't take it!"

Of course, all this irritation and fury means nothing whatsoever to the machine, which sits there, utterly and totally unmoved: which of course is the point - I like a human at the end of the transaction.

Our local libraries are all introducing self service now too. I can't think of any way though, that it might mean more books unless they cut staff too. I've watched our local libraries gradually shedding books, sometimes on the most spurious criteria. One library decided to move from 6 shelves to 5, the theory being that books were easier to reach (I could reach them all without thinking about it and I am a massive 5' 8"). Hundreds of books were junked. Recently anything without the right sort of bar code - ie anything not published within the last 10 years - was also junked as it couldn't be read by the new self service machines. The dreadful irony of this is that there is very little left in our village library now that I actually want to read, so I go less and less often.

If there is anyone out there reading this who works for the library services, and can tell me what the rationale is behind cutting the number of books you stock, I would love to hear from them: the more so if it's working and the number of borrowers is up.

7 comments:

callmemadam said...

A lucky dearth of self service checkouts round here. Our library, though, moved over in July.
I've no problem with the system but it's yet another example of losing human contact (i.e. a bit of a chat) as you go about your business.

Val said...

No you're not ..honest

Our library has one too but it isn't very popular with anyone or the staff for that matter especially when the customers mistake the reciept slot for the card slot...jams it up completely that does

As Jasper Carrot put it so well I'd like to tell the darn machine maker
"and I said unto him 'go forth and multiply' only in not so many words..."

I think a large glass of sherry is in order!

the fly in the web said...

With you on self service checkouts....I suspect that in France the population might be more proactive as I saw security guys hovering round the one in Geant when I was shopping.

As to libraries, i could still scream at my folly in not buying enough books when in the UK while the library service was still bothered about books so you didn't have to buy in order to read. Here, if you're lucky, you get a mediatheque which has every CD under the sun but BOOKS...! you have to look hard.

Jane Badger said...

CMM - I do agree about the human contact. If you work at home, as I do, you cherish those few moments you actually get to see a real, live human being!

Val - has your library decreased its stock? FITW - it sounds as if yours is at the end of the tunnel our libraries are travelling. Whenever I comment that there's no longer anything I want to read at our local library, I'm always told I can reserve books from other libraries, but this costs £1 a time, and if you read at least 5 books a week, as I do, that soon mounts up.

Susan in Boston said...

Jane, re the self service, I agree...hate it, hate it, hate it. Essentially we are doing for free something for which the establishment used to pay an employee, who is now probably unemployed. As the service industry is now basically the only thing that can't be outsourced to another country, it's a disturbing trend.

Re libraries without books....I know that here at least libraries live and die by their circulation numbers....they have to justify their existance (to the city or town that funds it) not by HOW they are used but by HOW MUCH and by HOW MANY, so if DVDs and CDs circulate more than books, they get more shelf space. The librarians weep when they have to give up another shelfload of books, but the alternative is closing the library altogether.

Sigh....when the State is basically rewarding funding to the lowest common denominator, I think it's a sign that we're all heading to h*ll in a handbasket

Jane Badger said...

Susan, our libraries are just the same, so if they can justify their existence by dvds and cd lends, it doesn't seem to matter if the books go. What makes me really really sad is when I've bemoaned the loss of books to librarians. What Andrew Carnegie would say if he were here now I absolutely shudder to think.

Vanessa from Fidra said...

I actually shouted at the self-service machine in Tesco yesterday.