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A TGB READER STORY: Why Amazon Will Rule the World

By Fritzy Dean

Dear Mr. Target,

Whatever happened to your express check-out lanes? I clearly remember a time when a shopper with fewer than 10 or 12 items could get in an express lane and in a reasonable amount of time, be on their way.

Today when I asked a red-shirted employee for the express lane, she first looked puzzled, then pointed me to the multiple self-check lanes.

I choose not to use self-check lanes for a few reasons. First, I am not an employee and don’t wish to contribute my labor to your corporation. Secondly, I know that every self-check lane allows the store to get rid of three employees.

I realize, of course, the scanner does not take shifts or coffee breaks or vacations or sick leave. They never get grumpy or need the bathroom like a human checker.

Still I prefer the human. So I will wait in a lane where an actual human is checking. I don’t need that job, but someone does.

However, I have a suggestion that should be implemented as soon a possible. Since you have done away with he express lane, I feel you need a designated slow lane. This lane will be for the shoppers who:

Have a cart full of items and EVERY single one of them requires special handling.

If you have a discount code and you have to scroll through 400 items on your cell phone to find it, go to the slow lane.

If you have a coupon in a printed ad and must flip thought the advertisement 15 times to find it, go to the slow lane.

If you buy an item that must be purchased in combination with another item to get a special price, make damn sure you have both items and get in the slow lane.

If you are oblivious to the world around you and don’t even notice the ever-growing line of people behind you, you NEED to be in the slow lane.

Mr. Target, I bet you could think of other shoppers who could benefit from a slow lane. But, Mr. Target, I have no confidence you will implement this sensible and reasonable suggestion.

That is only one reason, Mr. Target, that you and other retailers are losing ground every year to Amazon.

I truly wanted to do my part to avoid that scenario but, Mr. Target, I have seen the light. After 20 minutes behind one of those slow shoppers today, I finally asked the checker if I should move. She shrugged and said, “Well, she is almost half way done.”

I will not weep when Amazon rules the retail world.

* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


Totally agree. The in-store shopping experience is pretty bad from inexplicably dropped products to lack of cashiers to DIY check out to messy displays and inaccurate shelf prices (a problem at Target hence the scanners around the store) and the necessity of apps for special discounts (if your phone’s battery runs out, good luck). This is good customer service?

Amazon is not better, they just keep their abuse of employees out of sight. Target is not the only chain store that is cutting way back on customer service, almost all of them are doing it. Good customer service is simply not rewarded by customers, most of us prefer speed, cheapness and convenience. Quick, cheap and high quality: pick two, you can't have 'em all.

In retail, you can never tell a customer no. I worked retail, about 50 years ago when the trend was set. The "fast lanes" were doomed because people are involved. We've been fighting with DECA because of commissary rules. We pay a 5% surcharge, but the baggers only live on their tips. The baggers became very aggressive when we (as is our right) began to bag our own groceries. We saved several dollars each trip and felt that the baggers needed to find another way to earn income. Speed and cheapness will always win. People SAY they want friendliness and people, but only if it is provided at no additional cost. Can't be done. In our future (I won't be here) there will be automated check outs and more shopping done at home. Only fresh produce and "DIY" stores will survive. Maybe if the other stores simply become display fronts you could order from?

In my "accommodation " chapter of life I've become a big online shopper. I like the convenience of delivery to my door. I can appreciate the side affects for bricks and mortar stores, but we now live in a quick electronic age. I choose to accommodate me! Great, timely post. Thank you!

No self-checkout lane for me. I pay a little more at my supermarket, but I'm paying for service as well as groceries. If there's a question about price or anything else, the human checker takes care of it. I'm also paying for someone else to bag my groceries. That's fine too. I don't want to handle all that stuff yet another time. It's enough that I pick it from the shelf, put it all into the car (the baggers usually offer to help me with that), drive it home, haul it into the house, and put it all away. The store also delivers and I may resort to that in the not-too-distant future. Great customer service, a dying tradition, gets my vote every time. But beyond what I can get at a supermarket, I use Amazon or other online sources.

Agree and try to get around their store now in one of their electric carts. Add that to the need, a check out for people in the electric cart. Well at least I guess you could say they are sitting down in a long line.

Since their remodel here I run into poles in the wrong place.

Very funny Fritzy. Yes, shoppers can be annoying but not as annoying as self-checkout.

How things have changed! Right on (T)arget, Fritzy!

I don't go shopping in stores if I can avoid it because there seems to always be loud, ugly music playing, it's hard to find a salesperson, and the racks of clothes are so crowded you can hardly move. I used to go to Nordstrom because they were so helpful and pleasant, but even that has changed.

The more technologically "advanced" we become, the less we have contact with each other. I wonder where it will end.

I'm way in the minority. One of the great joys of my life is going to the grocery store. Yes, I'm guilty of counting the items in the cart in front of me in the "15 Items or Less" lane. And I've even commented to the cart pusher, "Did you happen to flunk math in school?" Granted, I've not made many friends. But at this stage of my life, I need no more friends. Especially ones that inconvenience me in line at the store. In spite of this aggravation, I do still love to go to the store. I'm one of the taller ones who says, "May I help you get that off of the top shelf" to a lesser-tall shopper than I. Amazon rocks. But so does Kroger. And as for having my groceries delivered? I prefer to squeeze my own melons, thank you.

I seem to be in the minority here. Having lived through my part of the country going through a phase where it was called the "Rust Belt", for me everything is about jobs. I will drive all over the place to find items that I want, all the while knowing that I could simply order from Amazon, probably for less money. But I believe that Amazon's practices are despicable, and I won't reward their behavior with my business. I've been "voting with my pocketbook" for decades and feel it is even more important now. I have explored the life of Amazon workers (very hard to get this information, because Amazon works so hard to keep it secret). I know that all corporations could do better than they do, but I think Amazon deserves their reputation for being among the worst.

I want to invent and market a new cash register. The retailer would program it depending on the flow of customers. It would simply STOP when, for example, 15 items were scanned. The sign at the express checkout lane would announce how many items could be scanned before the register screeched to a halt. Bingo, that’s all for now, rude customer. There could be another facet to this. Customers to the store would already know the rules. When the register reached item 15, they would know each additional item would ring-up at 15%, 20% etc. more. This additional money could be credited as a perk given to the next customer in line, charity, employee holiday fund etc. When I am in line behind one of these jerks I will comment to the cashier, “Don’t you wish this register would simply cut-off after it reaches 15?” Thanks, Fritzy, for provocative writing.

I despise self checkout and NEVER use it. My usual store still has fast checkout lanes but who knows for how long? I prefer human checkers. Also, as others have stated, the jobs are important to those who hold them. I agree that customer service seems to be a thing of the past especially at big-box stores. I miss it but have learned to adjust and do without most of the time.

I patronize Amazon for large items I cannot carry or cannot find in a brick-and-mortar store, but I'm no fan of their business practices or treatment of lower-tier employees. They have literally taken over the major city in the area where I live. We never go there anymore due to huge traffic congestion and ridiculous prices. Nina is right--they just keep their abuses out of sight.

In the Pacific NW there is a popular grocer; Fred Meyer associated with Kroger.

After you enter the store you are offered a handheld device that allows you to scan the bar code on a product, calculate your entire purchase price, and allow you to complete the transaction on the spot.

New fandangled technology? Yes, but it beats the lines . . .


I, too, do not use the self-check-out lane at Home Depot or anywhere else. I prefer to
go through the plant nursery to the clerk by the exit to check out and pay, always a
smaller line, plus I can admire the flowers and plants on the way in and out. I like to get my groceries at either a popular small store, of the local big box store with humans to check me out with my purchases.

I rarely order anything on-line as I like to shop at my local thrift stores. Today I got clean,
almost new white jeans, 2 pair of capris for myself to replace my old, worn out pairs. And
I got my husband what looks like new tan trousers, new rayon Hawaiian shirt, and lovely
green tee shirt someone's souvenier (sp?) from the Caribbean. All of these are high quality, name brands, and I paid a total of $24. for everything.

I know the brands that fit me, and my husband, as there are no dressing rooms, but there are mirrors.

Even though I could buy new items, I prefer to contribute to saving the planet by recycling, not adding to our landfills and our materialistic economy that is wasteful. Also I recycle my old clothes back to the thrift stores as they bundle up the items that cannot be sold and ship them off to other countries so these discards do not pollute the planet.

Hahahaha. So true and so cleverly written!

Bravo! my friend. You nailed it again and I truly enjoyed reading about your shopping frustration! Get organized or get out of the way! Go Fritzy go!

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