I just got back from my weekly trip to the friendly neighborhood Giant. Sometimes I go to Safeway, I really wish Giant would start carrying these and then I wouldn't need to run over to Safeway. So, anyway, I love the self-check registers. I don't know if I'm faster than the checkers, but it certainly feels like I am. It could just be that I'm doing something instead of standing there, absentmindedly chatting with a checker, wondering when I'm going to be done, but it feels faster nonetheless and that's what's important. I mean no offense to checkers, but sometimes they take forever. Even on their worst days they're still three times faster than someone working at the Maryland MVA, who themselves (I've been told) are three times faster than those working at the DC DMV. Now, seriously, you'd think MD and the District could at least require people to know how to type to do those jobs, is that so much to ask?
Back to the self-check. The technology has vastly improved since I first used one. I was in Baltimore probably 5 or 6 years ago and used one at a SuperFresh. I think that SuperFresh may still have the same machines, but they were practically impossible to use. You could only check-out if you had a limited number of items, in part, because you had to place items on a scale in the bagging are to verify the weight was what it should be. Now, you just put the items on the belt, they go through a little tunnel, get weighed on the belt, and then you bag. There's no need to bag and move items, being careful to keep them on the scale, and then bag new stuff.
I always wonder if the workers secretly despise those of us using self-check. Do they think we're trying to push them out of a job? If I was a career checker it would worry me. It seems as more and more people are more and more comfortable with the technology it becomes a bigger risk. Now, the Giant has moved toward having employees bag your groceries as you check out. That's a great service and it makes it easier, since the storage area at the end of the belt is not that big and sometimes fills, requiring you to go bag before you can check more if you buy a lot of stuff. It'll be interesting to see where we are in 5 years.