Wednesday, August 05, 2009

dear catastrophe cashier

Say you worked in a photo processing chain, let's call it Crack's, where, like so many other commercial businesses, the onus is more and more on the customer to provide their own service. Much like grocery store chains that now have self-serve checkout counters, your photo processing chain has installed a self-serve photo finishing kiosk, to which customers are directed, so that they can customise their own photos.

So when a customer brings in their nerd stick, you take them over to the kiosk and you show them how to start it and then you leave them to it. Right?

But what happens when that customer returns the next day with the slip that the kiosk has given them, containing their transaction number, to pick up the photos they assume are now printed? Is that the proper time to inform them that the slip of paper the kiosk spat out at them after it finished is what the customer should have then given you yesterday, so that you could enter the order into the system?

And when you are telling them that, sorry their files no longer exist in the machine, what do you expect them to say when you lean over and tell them consolingly "you're certainly not the only person that this has happened to"?

Although it is good of you to assure them, when they suggest that well then perhaps someone should post a notice on the kiosk informing customers of this fluke, that by golly, you are going to do that! That makes everyone feel so much better that Baba is not going to get her photos for at least another few days.


Wandering Coyote said...

Oh, God.

Lemme guess: Costco?

kelly said...


S.M. Elliott said...

Self service: A mixed blessing, at best. At worst, a sign of the Apocalypse. At the grocery store, I've checked out half my goods only to find that a certain kind of produce is mysteriously missing from the system.

Remi said...

Actually, I've had good luck with my local Cracks. I do shy away from those machines though. I fix my pics up the way I want them and send them online. Then I just have to go in a couple hours later to pick them up.

My only self serve horror story to date was the day I tried to help my sister quickly print some pics at, uh, "crapper's" drug store. We get all the way to the payment part and the machine has a fit. That's when the clerk - who was no more than 15 feet away the whole time and hadn't said a thing - says snidely "didn't you see the sign? It's broken". They had posted a small sign on the door to the store but didn't a) shut the machine down or b) put a sign anywhere near the machine saying it was broken. Argh!

justrun said...

Ohhh, that would be a bad day for that cashier and me.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oh god, don't get me started on that place, Wandering Coyote - gives me seizures, it does. What do you do with a 5 lb bag of broccoli florets anyway?

Ka-ching! Those are the money beets, Kelly!

My one and only experience with self-serve grocery checkout left me slamming a bunch of bananas repeatedly against the contraption, SME, trying to get a reading. And I'm pretty sure my loud swearing was not making for a pleasant self-checking experience for the other self-checkers.

Don't you just love those passive-aggressive clerks, Remi? There probably had been a sign on the machine itself, but the clerk removed it for the fun of watching customers fail. Pure evil.

I'm going to see if that cashier did follow through on his boy scout promise to put up a sign when I go back today to try again, Justrun. If not, THEN it is going to be a bad day for that cashier.

Gifted Typist said...

Customer dis-service. Dont' get me started.
But the Sons of Maxwell managed to knock $180M off the value of United Airways when the airline wrecked their guitar and refused to take responsiblity- after Sons of Maxwell wrote a song about it and posted it to uTube

Allison said...

I can't stop laughing at that picture. :)

I just recently printed some pictures at the drug store here, thankfully did not have a problem. But those machines are full of bugs.

Charlie said...

I've solved the whole problem by not taking pictures at all. I've had a digital camera for 4 or 5 years and still can't figure out how to work it. Kinda like my old VCR--it was flashing 12 o'clock for years and years.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I did hear about that Gifted. And it's a great reminder that writing about poor customer service is a great way to get your money back.

I never considered that Al, but I'll have to check the health of my nerd stick. Can't be spreading any nasty shit around.

My old VCR doesn't even flash anymore Charlie, it's given up any hope that anyone will ever pay it any attention.

Volly said...

I'm really glad your photos weren't Lost For All Time, but definitely agree that a store that employs relatively new technology has an obligation to either provide close assistance or a clear set of instructions.

I rarely use self-checkout at the grocery store unless all the other lines are impossibly crammed and I've got a few items that all have bar codes. Even then, the "helpful" employee typically stands at her little podium looking incurably bored, and barks instructions at you from a distance: "Swipe it again." "Press the green button." "Hold on, I'm comin' over..." Like many customers, I think that if we are going to do the work, we should get either a deep discount or health insurance and vacation days.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I think that if we are going to do the work, we should get either a deep discount or health insurance and vacation days - this is the truest statement I have read in days, Volly. You win some kind of prize for reading my mind.