Lately, at the QFC near my apartment, I’ve taken to checking out in the self-checkout line, even though I despise it on principle: I prefer the modicum of human interaction in the regular checkout line — I stopped to say hello to a cashier tonight, one I’ve known since I moved to Seattle nearly three years ago — and because I don’t like the idea that automation will be a wage-supressing bargaining chip come contract negotiation time. I further object to the notion that the store is saving money but not giving me an additional discount.
Moreover, people are much slower at checking themselves out than an experienced cashier is. Oodles more slow.
So why do I stand in that line, then, with the inherent inferiority?
Because it’s one line to four registers: even if each person checking out is a third the speed, and the line is the same length as the others (it’s frequently shorter), I still save time.
One line for all of the cashier-managed registers (a la Fry’s and the Post Office) would have me back there in no time. Of course, that’s fine with QFC.