U-scan for Dummies (well, apparently) Welcome to my world

Me-Robot Monitor with Best Bud Brittany
Me-Robot Monitor with Best Bud Brittany

Robot Monitor – U-scan Attendant.

The Robot’s software design is one that walks the customer through the process. Providing an ongoing Tutoral.  The system knows all items by weight,  and the weight  of the scanned item clears if it matches when placed in the bagging area. If it is different,  the attendant is notified and the customer cannot continue scanning until it clears.  We attendants,  are told not to clear items unless we know the reason for clearing. Management frowns on clearing “willy nilly” and actually frowns on excessive clearing.

Veggies are a snag for a lot of customers of self check out. The software makes it easy to look up the items, or they can punch in the code on the sticker found on the veggie.  I always get THAT customer who tries to punch the veggie code in the wrong place on the screen. They push the Alternate ID button instead of the Item look up button.  Or the outright trickster who enters one cucumber, but actually has five organic cucumbers.  The Robot Monitor has to have a keen eye to spot some veggie issues. The organic vs non organic is one of them.

When I started attending Robots I got so sick of the repetitious chiding of the Robot Voice. I would hear it in my sleep!   It was almost a blessing to have someone use the Spanish option. That dude seems so much nicer!  There is a picture that pops up on the screen occasionally.  There is always THAT customer who tells me “She doesn’t look ANYTHING like YOU!”  I chuckle and play along. This is usually the customer who tries to put the money in the coupon printer, or the slot the money is to come out.  People have a hard time finding where to put their money!

When customers first walk up to the robot, many place their keys or wallet on the scale. Then try to enter their alternate I.D.. This alerts the attendant. The scale has to remain clear…..Now your shirttail is on the scale, ma’am. …Could you please move your  Starbucks Coffee off the scale, sir?…..Yes, one lady spilled her entire Starbucks Macchiattos on the scale. I was over there like a NINJA with the paper towels.  I managed to get the liquid up before it seeped into the inner workings  of the robot.  It had flowed into the bagging area and into some bags….a big mess!  Have to say it smelled quite pleasant. I have had customers drop and burst open jugs of milk, vinegar, bottles of wine, and the list could go on and on.  Vinegar was probably the worse.

Ok,  The most sensitive issue I face as a Robot Monitor is having a…… hmmmm how do I say this…..Ok, it’s my blog, I don’t have to be PC……..A Big Fat Gut rest upon the scale. The customer is unaware that their Big ole belly is on the scale! The robot has alerted the attendant. The customer screams at me “IT WON’T SCAN” . I have been busy with all the other robots as I turn to figure out what is going on.  and It doesn’t take but a second to analyze this issue.  How oh how do I, politely, tell someone their stomach is on the scale?  It was awkward at first, but I have learned to say,  “Please step back from the scanner and try again.”  When they do, it clears! Some realize what has just happened and blush. Others are clueless.

On this topic, I have to tell a story of when I worked customer care. A lady who had gone through U-scan was concerned that she had been charged something like $14.00 for tomatoes. I reweighed them and they were only a couple bucks. She had weighed her belly LOL. Wonder how much extra is made per year from belly weight. Haha
There is THAT customer who places the basket on their bagging area scale when they have scanned their last item.This notifies the attendant and takes away the payment screen. I either clear for them. Grrrrr or go take the basket off. One of my biggest peeves is the person who skips bagging on an item and  PUTS THE ITEM IN THE BAGGING AREA instead of her cart. CLUELESS!  The attendant is alerted!  And they look at me in disgust when this happens as if the Robot has malfunctioned.  Hey Buddy, it is not the Robot!  It is the Operator!

Then you have THAT customer with a handful of kids who are running around while they are scanning, pushing buttons on the other robots. If I see them going for the robots I freeze them so they can’t do anything. But when they mess them up, scan items etc. I have to void and reset. Then, there is one kid sitting on the bagging area. The mom is scowling at me because her robot has alerted the attendant. I have to tell them repeatedly that the robot will not scan when there is a child sitting in the bagging area. Sometimes this gets the kid in trouble….. she/he yells at the child. I feel bad at that point. Poor kid.

A lot of people finish scanning, whip out their card and swipe. Stand there. I look up to see they have not pressed pay now or the card button. I tell them to do so. Or the person who pushes pay now, but not the card button. Mind you the annoying voice of the robot gives verbal instructions. The keypad will say “continue checking out” . So the customer is standing there for a long time….I realize this is the problem. I tell a large percentage of my customers they need to press the card button on the screen. Not sure if they don’t push it to begin with, or it is a computer glitch and has to be pushed again.

This happens a lot. If it were an isolated incident I would not mention it. I take an I.D. for alcohol. I’ll have THAT customer  say “ better stick around, I have some more, you will need that again”  No, we do not card you for every six-pack you buy. Once we take your I.D it is good for that entire purchase. Smile

A practice called “shopping from the cart” is common at U-scan.  A person pulls up with a huge cart of groceries. Their shopping buddy goes to get another cart.  They have a limited amount of money, they then make choices from the cart. They choose the items  they want and leave the rest in the extra cart. Yay, Go backs.

I also have had THAT customer scan one pack of deli meat or chicken (or anything) and put two in the basket. That is why I never clear “willy nilly” you have to check!  When “busted the people always act so surprised that two are in there. Oh my! how did that happen!  ….

Senior day is fun. Seniors walk up yell at me “I’m a senior”. They make sure that I ad that discount. Even if it is for a pack of gum.

The software program on the robots should to ask if you are using your own bags if you begin to place items on the bagging area before scanning. But most people begin scanning, THEN put their bags on. This means I have to clear the bag. Sometimes if a customer puts a rather large amount of bags on the bagging area, I will receive a message on my screen. I don’t remember the exact words, but it says something about,  “illegal bagging”……..LOL What am I supposed to do, go over there and confiscate their bags and kick them out?  Call the KROGER PO PO??? What does that mean?  I just clear it.

Here is another peeve that really gets to me. If business slows a bit it’s time to clean the robots. It never fails!  THAT one customer that comes up will gravitate to the robot I am cleaning! Why not use one of the other three OPEN robots. I am at this one! UGH!  Why do they always do that???

There was THAT customer who contacted the 800 number with a complaint on U-scan. His complaint. We didn’t help him scan his groceries. Hey dude. It’s SELF CHECK OUT…..U-SCAN. What a Jerk! Speaking of jerks, I was observing a customer scan their groceries when this customer turns around, walks over to me and starts yelling at me to leave her alone and STOP watching her. I remained calm, although I wanted to punch her lights out! I told her I meant no harm, I was only doing my job! Duh!

Some customers are disappointed they are not able to scan their own coupons.  I get the message on my screen. Customer is scanning coupon that alerts me to walk over and scan for them.

For some reason, people come to me instead of customer care. I have to direct a lot of customers to customer care….or Guest Services.  I also direct a lot of people to the Restroom.  We need a separate uniform shirt. One that says. “Go past the books, there is a sign, restrooms to the right”.

With all this said….I have a lot of Regular Customers who have become my friends. Some I don’t even know their name. When I was out for my surgery,  my customers asked about me continually,  one leaving a card for me.  As my knee gets worse I know I might have to give this up…..I will miss those smiling faces. And even with the “dummy” talk and all the problems. Most of it was humorous and enhanced my job experience.  And while I am dishing it out, I have to be able to admit my mistakes. I have made some doozies at U-scan.  I have broken at least two I pads.  In my defense, I think it was their time to go. But I owned it. After the second one, all I did was run crying to my boss at the time, Mr. Stewart.  I have accidentally added coupons to the wrong robot. I’ve added beer and water to the wrong robot.  Caught these mistakes in time and reversed it. But it was embarrassing….to say the least.  Most awkward is calling a woman sir, because from the rear view they look like a man.  They turn around and are obviously a woman, but it’s too late. I have already said it. I’ve called a man, ma’am, too…..Oh well, I would not want a mundane job!

Postnote: The picture above is before my best bud Brittany moved away to Virginia. She was one of the best Robot Monitors! She actually could do about anything at Kroger…..Smart Cookie:)

Another Postnote: I thought I had seen everything at U-scan, but apparently….Not. Yesterday a woman was trying to insert cash into the Robot. I was at the podium at the time looking through our new keyboard manual. I heard her say “It won’t take my money!” in a very frustrated tone. I looked up to see her trying to insert ALL the bills into the bill slot at once. LOL I thought I was going to laugh if I tried to correct her, so I said “I’ll take your cash ma’am.” . I know she is probably thinking of a bank ATM. When depositing money you can put it all in at once.

There will be many Postnotes, haha: Another thing that intrigues me is how some customers are so shocked when the robots are out of order. For instance. Sometimes the robots do not dispense change and it prompts them to pick up their change from the attendant. (ME) They will stand and stare at the Robot and I eventually have to tell them I have their change…or take it to them. They always say. What is wrong? Why did it not give me my change? IT’S A COMPUTER! Sometime’s it malfunctions OR it may run out of money. It has to be filled up by a person.
I had one lady tell me yesterday that (the robot) was the best invention EVER! On the other hand sometimes I get speeches from people (this is usually when the robot station is the only way to pay…after cashiers have closed post 11:00pm) telling me how they would never voluntarily use u-scan because it takes the job of a cashier. Blah Blah Blah they go on and on. I just tell them I am grateful that I have a job as a robot monitor.
Another one….just when I thought I’d seen it all at U=scan. A lady spilled her cherry tomatoes into the slot where the money comes out. I tried to grab them before they went deep into the “workings” of the robot, but they slipped on in. I closed the robot down. Expecting tomato juice to run out the bottom any second. But we got long lines and I could not get a manager to come down with a key….so I opened it up. it has been running smoothly for days now with tomatoes inside. Guess they will dry up eventually.

My super large dog wearing my Old Kroger Shirt....Yeah he could do my job!
My super large dog wearing my Old Kroger Shirt….Yeah he could do my job!

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