Getty self checkout

The availability of Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology at Gridserve’s new Gatwick site got me thinking about how you were all getting on with your self-checkouts. Are they saving your staff time and you money?

From a consumer point of view, I have become increasingly frustrated with the technology and the fact that it often doesn’t work.

My frustration is with a Sainsbury’s superstore but it seems to be an industry-wide problem.

I like the speed of self-scanning – when it works. When it doesn’t, well what’s the point.

Niggle number one is when you go into Sainsbury’s and there are no scanners in any of the cradles. Niggle number two is when you scan an item and a different price comes up to the one on the shelf – typically it’s higher than the displayed price. It’s happened so much that I have started taking photos of the shelf price to highlight the discrepancy to staff at the checkout area. I was never someone who really knew what the price of things were – until they went up and up and up!

Niggle number three is when half the equipment in the checkout area is not working and there is a great long queue.

Number four comes when you have to wait ages for someone to come and verify that you’re old enough to buy paracetamol or beer. Number five comes when you are randomly picked for a re-scan of all your shopping – and so it goes on and on.

When technology works, it’s brilliant but when it doesn’t, it’s a right pain.

Asda obviously has great faith in technology given that it is converting more of its forecourts at superstore sites to pay-at-pump. People moan that Asda is ‘anti-cash’ but the supermarket says most people using its forecourts pay by card already so it won’t make a lot of difference.

My only worry here – and for most technology – is for older users who might not be so familiar with it. There’s been many a time in car parks where I have had to help people pay – so much so that I have random registration numbers on my Ringo app!

I would hope that Asda might have a button to press where people who are unsure about using pay-at-pump can call for help and someone can talk them through it.

Driving through France last year, we used pay-at-pump a lot. However, when I checked my bank account I saw, rather alarmingly, that each time I had pending charges for fuel, twice. It took me a while to work out that the pump had taken the maximum amount I could spend on fuel and then the actual amount I had spent. Sometime later – sometimes a day or so – the maximum amount was cancelled and so never went through. It made sense to me but could be a problem if people don’t have spare money in their account.

Technology is definitely a steep learning curve. Youngsters who were brought up with an iPad in one hand and a smartphone in the other definitely have some advantage – the rest of us, well we live and learn!