Apparently the friendly counter staff members in some of the McDonalds outlets in Australia are slowly disappearing. I don’t know if that trend has crossed the Tasman yet but imagine having to order your hamburger from the self-serve computer… and do it all by yourself.
When I purchase something, I like to have some interaction with a human being. So, I normally wait for someone to help me and that gives me a chance to get a smile, have a chat and make my day.
And this replacement of staff by machines is becoming all pervasive.
One of the duty free outlets at Auckland airport has done away with people serving you when you collect your previously ordered goods. Instead of interacting with a human, we present our barcode for scanning and the robot finds our order and dumps it in the collection tray. It's very entertaining but where is the human who could quite possibly entice me to buy something extra?
The other day I went to my bank to deposit some cash and a staff member led me to the ATM to show me how I could do it myself. And not just me – everyone who wanted to deposit was shown how to work the machine. Three weeks later they are still hovering around the machine showing customers how to use it.
But the obvious intention is that soon the people will disappear! And you get the same trend in supermarkets with self checkouts being encouraged.
Mind you, some people at the front counter just accept the status quo as the only way. I was at my bank a few days ago and needed a colour printout of my bank statement in order to open a new online account. I was told by the teller (if that’s what they are still called), that the photocopier only printed black and white.
I accepted that statement at the time, but in the weekend I asked a golf buddy of mine who is in charge of the branches and he assured me that all branches of the bank have colour machines. So obviously that particular teller hadn’t been trained, and nor was the mind enquiring enough to have a look.
So maybe we are producing a nation of robots anyway. Is that what we really want?