Automated Glitches at Home Depot

This is the self-checkout line at the Rhode Island Avenue Home Depot.

It is either a crowning achievement of modern technology, another small step towards shopping automation, or a marker of the end of civilization in America.

As a technology achievement, its pretty cool. Each station processes your purchase pretty fast, and it takes cash as well as credit/debit, giving change when you’re done.

As automation, its trying to speed up the checkout scene but it wasn’t that fully automated. There still needed to be a sales clerk on hand to sort out its constant errors.

As the death of civilization, it removed one of the last “little connections” we make in a day – the small talk with the sales clerk that can make or break a buy.

In this case, I give the auto-teller a 5 out of 10. Cool, but way too glitchy to be really worth your time or effort.

8 Comments so far

  1. Doug (unregistered) on September 29th, 2006 @ 5:04 pm

    Yet another reason to avoid the corporate chains and find a mom-and-pop hardware store that actually employs people that will bag your items and are helpful. Not to mention when all you need are a few washers, instead of a 10-pound box of them.

  2. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on September 29th, 2006 @ 5:17 pm

    Works great the one on Route 50 in Seven Corners, I used it to get the stuff to re-do the seal on my shower. Great stuff.

  3. Maggie (unregistered) on September 29th, 2006 @ 5:31 pm

    It depends – if I’m in the mood to chat, then having a sales clerk help is fine. But if I have something I have to back to – like the pipe is going to burst if I don’t get home soon with a new washer, then I prefer using the self-checkout, ‘cos I can do my transaction faster than the sales clerk.

    As far as finding a mom-and-pop hardware store in VA, good luck! The last one I knew of closed and was replaced by an mediocre Irish pub. I agree, it’s hard to find a handyman in a Home Depot to ask for DYI advice. *sigh*

  4. Doug (unregistered) on September 29th, 2006 @ 5:52 pm

    If you’re anywhere near Springfield, then you have to check out Fischer’s Hardware (6129 Backlick Rd.). I’m lucky enough to have a Strosnider’s just a few blocks from my Silver Spring apartment.

  5. smouie kablooie (unregistered) on September 29th, 2006 @ 6:48 pm

    I agree with Tom that the checkout works great at the Home Depot on Rte. 50 at Seven Corners… But I only shop at Lowes now. Their stores are a lot nicer, and the quality is as good if not better, and you can find parking without having to worry about snipers

    That said, Harvard Business Review did an interesting article on how Home Depot is trying to revive itself.

  6. Joseph LeBlanc (unregistered) on September 29th, 2006 @ 8:54 pm

    Maggie, there is Cherrydale Hardware on Route 29 between the Safeway and a yoga place.

  7. Don Wenzel (unregistered) on September 29th, 2006 @ 10:41 pm

    I can’t under stand how a company as large as Home Depot can treat customers so poorly. I signed my roofing contract on 9-14-05, Home Depot has now installed three roofs on my house and are getting ready to install the fourth one. They pay their contractors as little as possible and that is why they get poor quality contractors. Home Depot does not return phone calls, emails or letters for weeks or never. When you see my web page you can see the distruction they do to peoples lives and property. When you search the internet for “poor customer service from home depot” you can read for days, how do they get away with this?

    Thank you,
    Don Wenzel
    Oxford, Michigan

  8. Don (unregistered) on September 29th, 2006 @ 11:16 pm

    I’m in a Home Depot at least once every 10 days and in my experience those things stink. They use some kind of anti-theft system that measures expected weight in the bagging section and it never quite works correctly. Not to mention that buying any kind of lumber by the foot is painful since you have to get the attention of the undertalented and overstressed clerk watching over the self-check.

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