I used to pop into the supermarket Morrisons a fair bit. It is a few miles away, further than any of the other supermarkets (apart from Asda but they don’t sell much of an edible nature there anyway), but I felt the extra distance was made up for because the car park is opposite a huge wild ‘park’ that the dog can run in. I also have a soft spot for the Morrisons hand-raised pork pies (no jelly). So if I wasn’t in a hurry I could have good walk, a quick shop followed by a quality pork pie with hard-boiled egg for lunch (cranberry jelly on the side, left over from Christmas).
I went back there today, the first time this year; in fact the first time in months. Six maybe. I wondered why it had been so long, the walk went so well. The dog was very happy to be able to run to his heart’s content, conduct a spot of light hunting in a spinney and both of us were overjoyed to not have to deal with any other bugger or his or her dog. We had the space to ourselves. Perfect. Then I went into Morrisons…
Firstly, there were no hand-raised pork pies. There were slabs of giant pork pie in the reduced chiller cabinet and there were mini pork pies of a different brand, but sadly these were not the boys for me. No hand-raised? No pie of the pork. Lunch was off. I bought a few other bog standard items one must have with children to feed and one other item which pleased me a little and minded me to forgive the lack of hand-raised pork pies on the shelves (even whilst the deli area was overflowing with some filthy pasty concoction filled with spicy chicken). As I shuffled down to the tills I was half-thinking, ‘Oh it’s not too bad, I mustn’t leave it so long again.’ And then there it was: the queue for the self-service tills.
I attempted to join an ordinary queue, for those with trolleys, but it was hopeless. No room at the inn. So I joined the queue for the automated shopping experience and as I waited it all came back to me: why I had stopped coming here over six months before. The self-service tills are the most inefficient ones in the known universe. Sainsburys can be annoying,yes; Tescos are not too bad, but the Morrisons self-service machines are down there in the pits along with WH Smiths (that shop is a whole new post altogether).
For a start, they don’t bloody work. Or, Morrisons customers can’t work them. This means that one member of staff has to work the self-service tills with the customers in a very tight space with a packed audience, circumstances which contrive to make the customer feel stupid and the staff member very snappy. The machines shout incessantly. They shout at the customers (who are getting it all wrong) and then the staff member shouts at the machine or the customer, depending on how their stress levels are doing. Strangely, we the customers, the most put upon in the whole transaction do not shout at all but the self-service debacle/spectacle fills those of us patiently waiting with irritation, or dread. It is self-evident the self-service till is going to make a fool of us too, we just have to stand in line and worry about what manner of humiliation this will take.
For the man in front of me it was the ‘Notes In’ part of the transaction. For me it was that when I stepped up to the plate that one machine would not take cash. I went to the back of the queue and did not collect one hundred pounds. When it was my turn (again) on the one machine deigning to take card payments on this, the 23rd day in the month of the year 2013 AD, I thought I made a good start. I thought, for a moment, I was doing quite well with the self-service wheeze. I was not. The shop assistant who works like a demon across two self-service tills, self-served me to a repacking of my bag. I had constructed a wobbling edifice of eggs, goose fat and pizza because the weighing and packing areas are the size of a postage stamp. As she rearranged my goods to her satisfaction, she patronisingly pointed out my idiocy and transferred some of my goods to the other, secret packing area I had not seen.
Of course she was simply exacting revenge on me because when the old man in front had been defeated by the ‘Notes In’ section of the machine, I had helpfully suggested he shoved his tenner in another of the machine’s many orifices. My helpful suggestion proved to be the wrong orifice too and when the shop assistant had told us both off for being so thick I had mildly protested that she was being a touch impatient with the customers.
After all, we don’t actually work there. We haven’t had any self-service till training. This cut no ice with the Morrisons staff.
‘That man,’ she said, as I was leaving (he was about 80 years old), ‘that man… He comes in here every day and uses these machines every day!’.
‘Perhaps,’ I said, ‘he has a short memory.’
‘Selective more like!’ she snapped.
I took my goods. It had taken me 5 minutes to get the basket full of shopping and 10 to pass through the self-service feather and tarring of customers. This is why Morrisons is doomed.
On the other hand, I did get two bottles of my favourite beer for £1.50 each and I had a nice chat whilst I was waiting to be made a fool of by an inanimate object and paid staff with a lady whose niece goes to the Judi Dench School of Acting. Or something. This proves that all Morrisons customers are lovely, a little bit old, reliant on public transport or simply misguided. Those of us that have the choice not to be put upon and abused by machinery and stressed out by supermarket staff with the hump are probably shopping elsewhere now.