I recently found myself in need of some AA batteries. I discovered this when I was getting ready to leave work the other night to catch the Metra train downtown for class. So I was on a schedule - I could not miss the train - and yet I needed to make a quick stop somewhere to buy batteries. Since Home Depot is adjacent to the train station, I chose to go there. I drove up at 4:02 PM and parked the car. I walked into the store and made a beeline towards the checkout counters, knowing I would run into some sort of battery display on the way. I picked up my batteries enroute - a nice 12-pack of Duracell Ultra AAs to satiate my energy craving for awhile. It is now almost 4:04 PM.
When I got to checkout, all of the checkout lines were full except for this new area for “self-checkout”. I have had mixed experiences with this concept. Walgreen’s has self-checkout and it works great except for a little slowness around the credit card processing part. Jewel completely hoses up the whole thing. The last time I tried it, it got confused about what I had put into the bag, saying something that implies attempted theft, and had to call over a clerk to help me. I refuse to use the Jewel system now. I was just there tonight and was in a line and a clerk suggested I go “try” the self-checkout. I said, “Do I have to?” I really enjoyed her expression. So, anyway, I decided to give Home Depot a shot. I know from various IT articles I have read that Home Depot is a master of technology. They have one of the most effective and largest data warehouses in the world. They can reroute inventory to any random store that has a blip in sales of Acme anvils. So I figured they probably have the self-checkout concept down. It turned out that I was right. The checkout was flawless. I swiped the battey pack over the scanner, dropped it in the bag, swiped my credit card, and was grabbing my receipt and heading out the door in about 45 seconds. Back in the car and on to the train by 4:06, a total of about 4 minutes. When it works, technology is sooooooo cool. Have you had any similar experiences?