Are Tesco going toward 100% self-service tills?

26 November 2014

tesco Across the country, Tesco have been trialling new, slimmer self-service tills. Not because they look nicer, but rather, they can get more bodies in who will serve themselves and bundle them out the door again. In one Manchester store, there is no traditional till served by a member of staff. One London Tesco branch is also entirely self-serving too.

Instead, the staff are now hanging around the self service tills as floating assistants, too flustered to converse with customers, and effectively retraining everyone who walks through the door to be an unpaid worker.

Tesco won't mind though because they think that they can pass off self-service tills as something that will reduce queuing time for consumers.

However, there's a number of problems with self-service tills - by getting the customer to do some of the work, that means they don't need to pay as many members of staff, but are Tesco passing on the money they're saving to customers? Not a chance.

Another problem is that research has shown that the queues have been replaced by a lengthier waiting time while customers have technical problems with the self-service tills, argue with the staff about not wanting to use the machines and the whole 'bagging area' irritation. A survey by the Telegraph showed that the shops offering a choice between staffed and automated tills, it is usually quicker to choose the traditional method. In addition, if a store has one remaining manned cash register, then the queues get increasingly large there, as customers avoid the automated ones.

Anecdotally, one city-centre store BW has seen has gone from a friendly (no, honestly, pleasantly friendly), bustling supermarket to half-dead overnight. That's not because the 100% self-service checkouts have streamlined service, but rather, the nearby shops that offer both self-service and trad. arr. staffed tills are now much busier than before because customers have the choice of talking to, or ignoring other humans.

Of course, self-service tills offer a humiliating prospect for older customers, who aren't all tech-savvy and, pat on the back for this one supermarkets, by removing a chatty member of staff from their lives, may have lost an old dear the only person they got to talk to in a day. Naturally, there's a whole host of tech-knowledgeable pensioners out there, but even they must miss a brief 'hello' when shopping, rather than moving through a shop silently.

In some Tesco stores, you could feasibly spend £200 on your shopping without actually speaking to another human or receiving any acknowledgement or gratitude from the company's proprietors or management. Empty as a 'thank you' can be, it is still nice to get one if you're handing over your money to a company.

In self-service heavy outlets, you walk in, shop, put your own stuff into the system without the savings being passed on, walk out and the only thanks you get is a sign, swaying in the rafters that says "Thanks For Shopping At Tesco". It should go without saying that there's some people who actively prefer self-service tills, but it is lousy to see supermarkets edging toward a lack of choice for the customer.

Obviously, self-service isn't always bad - when was the last time someone served your petrol, or the last time someone eschewed a cash machine because they wanted to get their money from a bank clerk? There's a good number of people who have enjoyed the five-fingered discount that self-service allows too.

There's just something bleak about Tesco, a company that has lost huge sums of money and losing ground to Aldi and Lidl, choosing to squeeze pennies out of customers so flagrantly. With customers seemingly voting with their feet and shopping elsewhere, it is a problem that Tesco need to look at.

TOPICS:   High Street News


  • jaffacake
    Both Tesco and Asda already do this in Grimsby, out-of-hours. So 10pm-8am (stores are open 24hrs) there is no option to use a staffed checkout. We spent an hour loading our trolley with a hundred pounds of shopping, discovered we'd have to self-checkout even after we complained, and abandoned the trolley. Sorry, not in favour !
  • LD
    Another nail in the coffin - Tesco's R.I.P
  • Catnips
    The staff at my local Tesco are already a bunch of personality-free automatons, so this won't make one iota of difference there.
  • James D.
    I like self service for buying a sandwich and a drink or something, any more than that its faster and easier to use a traditional checkout.
  • Genman
    Shoplifters paradise! Guess who'll be paying for that in the long term?
  • Tom
    Fucking hell... journalism on bitterwallet... whatever next???
  • Father J.
    If they do then they can 100% fuck off as far as I'm concerned.
  • Ellen
    All this technology is going to be the end of the human race, as eventually there will only be a small percentage of the population required to work, and the rest will be treated liked scum. Everywhere I go more and more of the awful self service tills are being installed. At the end of the day if I am paying to buy a load of your stuff then I want someone to serve me, why should I serve myself? How many wages are being saved as people readily agree to being their own checkout operator? I think self service tills are only suitable for small buys, and should not be used on a large scale. Humans gradually being pushed out of the job market as machines take over, it's very sad and will lead to increased unrest over the next generations.
  • Pablos
    Self service tills are probably better than the staff in most TESCO stores - certainly more helpful.
  • Soronery
    @Ellen - are you related to Stephen Hawking by any chance?
  • Ellen
    @Soronery - are you related to your milkman by any chance :o
  • Jonny
    Buying an item or 2 is fine on them, lunch hour rushes are faster with them. But doing a whole shopping wouldn't make sense. But then I go to Aldi where there are no machines and the staff are friendly and look like they at least don't mind working there, unlike Tesco/ASDA where it's like they're hard done to, you know, having a job
  • Chris
    @Catnips .. I am not having a go at you... but have you ever wondered why your Tesco is staffed by 'personality-free automatons'? I know several Tesco staff members at my local store, and they are all decent human beings... HOWEVER.. they are treated like dirt by their so-called management. Stuff like; targets for scanning a stupid number of items per hour else they get humiliated by the supervisors, kept waiting for meal/toilet breaks, messed about with their holiday entitlement. many working low hour contracts... I could go on, but the general public need to be made aware of the way these people, (who are just trying to provide for their families), are treated. Maybe if human beings are treated like rubbish, then they will begin to behave like they don't give a damn? I wouldn't work for any of these supermarkets. I would hardly last half an hour before telling some jumped up supervisor/manager to foxtrot oscar.
  • Jonny
    Whatever happened to being grateful for just having a job? Oh yes it's the benefit system, you'll be telling me that's unfair next. Tesco aren't the only company who do this, not the first, won't be the last. If you could lose a job/source of income I suppose you've got a stack of money to last you? If not you'll use the benefit system, unless you're confident of your job hunting ability, which led you to work at a supermarket in the first place...
  • Jimbob
    A couple of weeks ago, tired and grumpy after a night shift, I popped into my local Tesco (Brownhills) to get some bits. I wasn't happy that there were only self service tills, and I think that I made it obvious from my demeanour, particularly when the previous week a checkout lady had kindly given me the option of serving me. I wrote to complain, but I have yet to recieve any reply. There is a principle at stake here. People are losing jobs in the name of increased profits. I prefer to be served by human beings.
  • SeeWhy
    My story for the day. True story. I went to my normal newsagent to buy a newspaper today. Run out, sorry. Went to next one 100 yards away, same thing. Reluctantly went into Tesco 'Express' to buy said newspaper. They still had one. Yay! That's the end of the good bit. I then went to the queue area to be presented with a Q of about 15 people all waiting for one human cashier and a line of 3 people waiting for the lone functioning self-service till of three in place. Person 1 had about two items and took approx 6 minutes to process his purchase, with the help of a member of staff. The member of staff was, and you'll like this, the person who was working the till. So now all the people waiting in the normal line had to wait for her to come back. Person 2 didn't understand the machine at all, language being the barrier apparently. She took about 5 minutes to decide to leave without doing any shopping which she left on the machine. Person 3 took about 3 minutes to buy 2 items. Person 4 was me. Here's where it gets absurd. I am a computer literate fully self-aware human being. I had the right change in my hand, I had the barcode ready for the scanner and, I couldn't buy a f+cking newspaper at this ridiculous machine. Why? After scanning and presenting the item to the 'bagging area' the bloody thing came up with the dread 'unexpected item in the bagging area' message. What? The newspaper had been registered on the scan, why would it not be recognised? The wrong weight? Who knows.. I don't know. My only option now was to call for assistance. I did no such thing. I took my ready change to the person at the till, ignoring all those still q'ing (I'd been there longer than any of them by now) and said 'Here's the correct money for the newspaper, I'm leaving. As I marched away, I could hear the assistant calling after me.. "Sir, sir, I need to scan the item. Please sir, I can't take this money... I need to scan the item". I didn't look back. I'd been in a not-very-busy Tesco for the best part of quarter of an hour to buy a f+cking newspaper. Seriously. I am never shopping at Tesco again. If anyone from Tesco is reading this, seriously, sort yourselves out. You'll not last the year if you treat people like that. Your own staff are harrassed and there are too few of them so therefore incapable of serving the customers. If you think that customers will do the work instead, please think again. Your machines are making us look and feel stupid and angry. Why on earth would I ever want to shop in Tesco again? You can stick it right up where the sun don't shine. To reiterate: I tried for quarter of an hour to buy a newspaper and failed.

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