Home Depot’s Self-Checkout Paradox

The absurdity of self-checkout, summarized by a Home Depot employee as expertly as it was accidentally:

    I work at Home Depot, as a cashier. I can back up all of parent’s statements; people lose about fifty IQ points when faced with the self checkout. That’s why ours have a cashier supervising them.

You can fill in your own punchline, I’m speechless.

Law of Unintended Consequences Strikes Grocers [Slashdot]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Paul D says:

    I’m just boggled that a place like Home Depot has a self-checkout.

  2. KevinQ says:

    I agree with Paul D. I can’t imagine trying to self-checkout there. Trying to stand that 8′ board on its end so I can scan it… And I can never find the barcodes on those loose nails…


  3. Falconfire says:

    Its not bad at all, I love the home depot self checkout for things like a few outlets, or rolls of tape. Anything big though and its going through a normal checkout.

    My biggest problem I think is with the idiots who are in front of me. Seriously if you cant figure out how to use it in 2 minutes, or better yet still have not learned how to program the clock on a VCR, DONT GET IN THE FREAKING LINE. Sure it may be completely open but that doesnt mean your allowed to take 45 minutes to fgure out how to hit english, scan barcodes, hit finish, then pick your method of payment. I wholeheartedly agree with the comment that people who get there lose 50 IQ points.

    Honestly self checkout has been my saving grace for shopping. If I couldnt do it I dont think I would ever shop because its so much easier NOT to have to get stuck behind some old lady complaining about not getting 2 cents back on her 60 cans of cat food, or some jackass paying for a cake with food stamps -_-.

  4. sixtoe says:

    It’s one cashier supervising four or five self-checkouts. More proof that you shouldn’t get your news from soundbites.

  5. latrevo says:

    I use the self checkout, but only out of spite. The only reason Home
    Depot needs it is because at any given time (even during peak hours)
    they only have like 1-2 registers open. Otherwise, why on earth would I
    not have someone else do all the work of scanning and bagging crap?
    It’s not like it costs extra!

  6. AcilletaM says:

    Falconfire stole my post, including the VCR reference.

    But in reference to the quote above, don’t all the places have a cashier supervising?

  7. kerry says:

    I friggin’ hate self checkout. I’ve never tried it at Home Depot, but I avoid it at the supermarket if I have more than 2 items. Invariably it barks at you for not putting something in the bag fast enough, or if you accidentally brush against the machine it detects additional weight and you have to wait for a clerk to come over and tell it you’re not stealing. Of course, you very well could be stealing and they wouldn’t know, because they don’t pay attention to what you’re doing. Looking up veggies is a nightmare, since I never seem to buy “popular” vegetables, and the alphabetical lookup is really slow. I’ll gladly stand behind the people with food stamps and read a tabloid if it means not enduring a hassle to get my own food checked out.

  8. lpranal says:

    Personally I think it’s the designers of said checkouts that are missing the 50 IQ points. You can’t force people to think in arbitrary, linear ways just because the interface designer didn’t question whether or not cheesy photoshop buttons and a slapped-together interface buttons were the most effective design choices. If it doesn’t work FOR people, it’s worthless. It should be obvious, effective and as ridiculously efficient as possible. The current systems fail miserably in all aspects.

  9. I’m going to start a band called ‘Popular Vegetables’. Thanks Kerry!

  10. etinterrapax says:

    I’m with Falconfire on this one. If I must go to Home Depot, it is almost invariably for an order containing no more than five small items. I loathe standing in line to check out a teeny bag of screws or a single bathtub faucet. And when I bought annuals in their garden center this year, the line was always about six people deep. Something about buying plants causes all kinds of problems. I used to be a cashier; I can do my own checkout much faster.

    And I’m glad they have someone there to come over and straighten out the machine on whether I actually put something in the bag. Shaw’s has some stores with self-checkout, and if the computer screws up, you have to wait around for a CSM to come by and notice your plight. Barbaric.

  11. DeeJayQueue says:

    I love self checkout, as does the relatively high percentage of people who have ever worked in a retail environment and actually run a register before. Sure the systems in some stores aren’t that great, and perhaps a bit oversensitive at times, but it’s a new technology and for those of us with register experience it makes it so much easier to be able to scan our own stuff, hit a couple buttons and be on the way.

  12. GenXCub says:

    DJQ, I don’t think it even has to do with retail experience. We’ve all been to the grocery store. We’ve seen Lurlene swipe the tater tots over the scanner, it’s not supposed to be that hard to emulate. I think we’ve all been scarred by waiting behind the local ‘tard trying to do self-checkout when they’re unqualified, so I do it just to show whoever else is waiting that I have half a brain.

    Oh, and I do use the self checkout at Homo depot. The majority of what I get there are small items like duplicate keys and spraypaint.

  13. LLH says:

    i’ve used the self check out at the home depot. it’s a piece of piss. that is, until, you get the “thing that doen’t scan”. being a person with a brain, after it doesn’t scan the second time i’ll usually just look over at the ‘supervisor’ and she’ll (yes, i know, weird to me too) point a wireless upc reader my way and low and behold it rings right up. nice. now only if the goober in front of me hadn’t taken a half an hour trying to scan one item i could have been in and out. seriously.

  14. thrillhouse says:

    Self check out rules! Just so long as you morons who can’t figure it out stay out of the way. Kinda like TLC’s slogan, “know when not to do-it-yourself”. Fruits and veggies aren’t that scary either – the PLU code is slapped on to every single one. Weight it, punch in the code, and you’re off. Loose hardware, I’ve never done, but I usually need more than just a few so I end up getting a whole box or several prepackaged – its less per part anyways. Lumber, yeah, I leave by the contractor entrance with lumber anyways. HD sells a LOT more than hardware and lumber.

    So, if the question “english or spanish?” confuses you, if swiping a barcode and placing the item in a bag sounds tough, if selecting you method of payment and then paying baffles you, then yes, please let someone assist you – I’ll be able to slide right thru the self check out that way. Thanks!

  15. TKramar says:

    This is my simple comment on self checkout…and I do work at the Home Depot. I’d rather not have to deal with a person, if I can at all avoid it, so I think self-checkouts are a WONDERFUL idea.

    I will take advantage of every self-checkout I can find to purchase my few items. Get in, and get out quick, instead of waiting in long lines.

    I’d like to see a system set up at the paint counter, where people who just want to shake up a can of paint can put their paint in, hit a button, and shake it, instead of standing in line waiting for an employee to do it.

    If all I wanted was a can of white paint shaken up, wouldn’t it be faster if I just did it at home otherwise?

  16. TKramar says:

    I work for Home Depot, but I’d take advantage of self checkout any time I could find one. I’d PREFER to deal with a computer to dealing with a person. I want to get in, get my stuff, and go. I don’t want to deal with the niceties of dealing with actual people.

    Take, for example, the paint counter. If all I really want is a can of white paint shaken up, it would be easier if they would provide a shaker on the floor where I can drop in a can of paint, hit a button, and have it shaken up. Otherwise, it’s much quicker to go ahead and do it at home.

    I would take advantage of self checkout anywhere that I can find it!