Marks and Spencer, as everyone knows, I adore. I simply cannot live without the M&S food store or indeed other parts of this iconic English store.
But there’s part of M&S that I do have a love/hate relationship with; the self service checkout.
I love that I never have to wait in line with it.
The reason is it never works so no-one else has the patience for it.
Initially, I worked out that after three items, the self analysing machine will flash an error so it was hardly worth using it if I have more, which is almost always the case.
That stopped but now I get an error because I never use the plastic bags but always have my own, a practice M&S themselves were the first to encourage.
I’ve learnt to bypass that now by not putting my bag on the ‘scales’ to get the ‘unidentified item’ alert; it’s the bag you told me to bring you stupid machine! Now I pile up all the items neatly, press finish and only then safely pack everything.
However, problems still occur although not once have staff come over to check what the ‘unidentified object’ is or indeed what it weighs. They simply clear the error from the little machine on the end of the row and I carry on.
So this is my real issue with M&S;
The machine is just there, within touching distance of both the manned customer service desk and the busy express tills and yet I wait minute after minute for them to notice when my self service unit is screaming ‘please wait, help coming’.
The only thing is my machine does not seem to be talking to this magical fix-all machine at the end. It’s a bit like having a burglar alarm that rings in the house but not at the police station; pointless.
The only way staff know I need help is when they see the gas coming out from the top of my head when I am blowing my top. I am left helpless, not able to leave my shopping (I had a House of Fraser bag full of new bed linen bargains stolen from this very spot) all I can do is get their attention. I have known many a time when there have been three ‘please wait; machines and a line building behind us although that situation works much better in getting their attention.
It’s so unlike M&S staff to not offer an apology or explanation, no matter how many times I ask them.
I occasionally visit the Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s and I know that they have someone standing there just to encourage use and to help if anything goes wrong.