Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I hate "Self-checkout"

I loathe "self-checkout" lines in stores.

Whenever possible, I will stand in line a few extra minutes to have a human being physically scan my purchase and put it into a bag.

This isn't because I dislike technology, or can't figure it out. Hell, self-checkout is simple enough, when it operates correctly and doesn't fight with me over whether or not I put the cotton balls in the bag.

I use human checkout because I like human beings, and I want human beings to be employed to do work, rather than to be replaced by automation.

See, somewhere, far away, is a bean counter looking for an excuse to cull expensive human beings from payroll, in exchange for cheap machines.

Oh, some people will say those machines are expensive. But, seriously? Those machines last five years, at least, and at minimum wage, a pack of part time employees, assuming a store "only" open 8 AM to 8 PM, and "only" six (6) days per week costs a crapload less than human beings.

Here's the calculation:

Twelve (12) hours per day, six (6) days per week is 72 hours per week.

At eight (8) dollars per hour, that's $576/week, or $29 952 per year, or $149 760 over five years.

That's assuming it's only 72 hours per week. My local Fred Meyer store is open fifteen (15) hours per day, seven (7) days per week, so now we're up to $840/week, $43 680 per year, or $218 400 over five years.

And we've stores open to 1 AM, and some open 24 hours.

This is all assuming US Federal minimum wage, of part-time staff, to avoid expensive benefit packages, which generally add 50% more. 

So, if it's a union shop, or they pay more than Federal minimum wage, you can see how those "expensive" machines become dirt cheap really fast.

(Note to my readers in other countries: the US has - and I realize some of you will consider this backwards, barbaric and embarrassing - a policy of paying ZERO benefits - i.e. no health, dental, child care, retirement, vacation, nothing - to anyone working less than thirty (30) hours per week. Yeah, I know, and we like to tell ourselves we've moved beyond the Dark Ages. It's not my fault, please don't hold it against me. It's actually part and parcel of the modern plutocrats effort to create a new Dark Ages, or Neo-Feudalism as I've been calling for at least 15 years. In other words, It's Class Warfare, Bitches.)

Think I'm exaggerating about the bean counters and pure-profit motive?

“If you can cut payroll and have the same productivity and even increase it, it’s a great move,” Diamond said.

Does this bad boy look familiar? Bet it does. Cost? About three weeks of part-time employees. After that, it's pure profit, baby - tens of thousands of dollars per year per machine.  Cha-ching!

So, I like to use human beings and force the bean counters to see a blip on a spreadsheet that says cash-paying customers are using human beings, and therefore human beings remain relevant and important to keep on the payroll, or risk losing cash-paying customers.

Not because I hate computers, but because I love human beings.

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