Random Musing: Technology vs. workers

When we think about outsourcing, we usually think about Call centers in India or manufacturing jobs in China. Well, what about automatic cashiers?

I went to the local CVS (Shoppers Drug Mart or Boots for Canadian and British readers) this morning to buy some milk because my wife needed some milk with her coffee daily dose of caffeine. When I walked up to pay, I noticed two little shiny new machines with a bunch of plastic bags attached. I went over to one and low and behold, it was the cashier.

“Nice to meet you.”

“Would you like to pay with cash or credit?”

“Please sign here.”

“Thank you for shopping at CVS. Have a nice day.”

I left and went home without talking to a single person.

  1. yellerKat says

    Please tell me it doesn’t say “Nice to meet you…have a nice day!”

  2. Edward Harrison says

    I probably misremembered the “Nice to meet you bit”, but it is a lot more courteous and helpful than the human variety and obviously quicker.’

    Automatic cashier machines are the new automatic teller machine

  3. dearieme says

    “sign”! We do it all by card-swiping at Waitrose, have done for years now.

  4. Anonymous says

    Home Depot and Harris Teeter (supermarket) has been doing this for a couple of years.

    I believe it is unfortunate (& a sign of our times) that machines now provide better service than humans.

  5. Edward Harrison says

    I guess this is a sign of our times for sure. The fact that the machine is more polite than the average cashier says something too.

    In truth, I find the Indian customer service reps also more courteous than US ones, but not more so than UK ones.

    As for Waitrose, the US is so far behind Europe in that kind of technology. I have been card swiping on my first direct account since, what, 1998?

    Think back to some other professionals who were automated out of existence: telephone operators, elevator operators, and bank tellers.

    And remember the days when you had to go to a bank and get a wire transfer or to Western Union to get money overseas?

    It seems cashiers are next on that list. Any others I’m forgetting about?

    Oh yes, airport tram conductors.

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