Automated supermarket checkouts make shopping a misery for elderly citizens

Saturday November 25 2017

automated checkouts

A survey has indicated that high on the oldies’ hate list are automated checkouts at superstores. FILE PHOTO 

By GERRY LOUGHRAN
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What do old folks miss most when they go shopping? According to a recent survey, someone to talk to and somewhere to sit.

The housing charity, Anchor, reported that high on the oldies’ hate list are automated checkouts at superstores.

They put off about a quarter of older people from going shopping.

“There was a time when people knew their shopkeepers and could pass the time of day,” Mario Ambrosi, a spokesman for the charity, said.

“You can’t do that with a machine.”

SOCIALISATION
The study found that as many as 60 per cent of old people surveyed were worried that there would be a lack of seating if they needed to rest.

Daphne Guthrie, who is approaching her 93rd birthday, says across her lifetime she has seen a complete change in shopping culture, from small, privately owned stores where the shopkeeper knew all his customers, to vast impersonal megastores.

She says she has never used an automatic paying system and always chooses a checkout with a person in charge.

Without someone to talk to at the tills, shopping can be a miserable experience, she says.

FARE
On a personal note, this oldie is exasperated by the unctuous nature of commercial language, aimed at glossing over reality.

For instance, we are advised that from January 1, bus fares will be “revised”.

What they mean is fares will be “increased”. They never go down, do they?

A much tannoyed announcement says that “the lift at Monument station is out of passenger service”.

What they mean is it’s broken down but they can’t bear to use such painful words.

BUS
At a bus stop I use frequently, there was an electronic timetable for the two services which call there.

Suddenly this useful information was replaced by the logos of half a dozen bus companies and some bilge about “Bringing you a Real Time welcome”.

We don’t want a Real Time welcome, we want to know when the next bus is due!

* * *
Terry, 80, and Elizabeth Fordham, 70, sold their house for £225,000, bought a motor home and went touring in Europe.

They gave their credit cards to their daughter, Melissa Humphreys, so that she could pay off any bills or debts when they were away.

After four years, the couple were advised that their credit cards were at their limit.

Realising something was up, they abandoned their tour and returned to Britain to find their daughter had stolen their life savings.

FRAUD
Prosecutors at Chelmsford Crown Court said Humphreys, aged 33, spent £179,000 of her parents’ money.

Mr Fordham said he had worked all his life to earn money “and then it was taken away by my own beloved daughter”.

Humphreys admitted 14 charges of fraud.

Her defence counsel said the spending had been on “transient items rather than lavish purchases”, and she was very remorseful.

She had personality problems, he said. Judge Patricia Lynch said the old couple were living in their motor home, reduced to virtual penury.

She jailed the daughter for three years.

* * *

SUICIDE
The number of people committing suicide in Britain every year is equivalent to 20 long-haul airliners crashing with no survivors.

According to the Samaritans, 6,188 suicides were recorded in the UK in 2015, an average of 17 per day.

The figures were released with the launch of the Zero Suicide Alliance, which aims to cut down on the figures.

Campaigners will seek an improvement in mental health care throughout the National Health Service while also seeking to sign up every MP to a new online suicide prevention training programme, which takes just 20 minutes.

The aim is to help identify people who might be having suicidal thoughts and talk openly to them.

The Alliance hopes that one million people nationwide will do the training.

* * *

TOBACCO
The government raised the legal age for buying cigarettes from 16 to 18, banned smoking in public places and ordered shopkeepers to hide tobacco products from view.

Now smoking and drinking levels among young people are the lowest on record. Hurrah!

But wait. According to the National Health Service, at least 24 per cent of children aged 11 to 15 have tried recreational drugs.

This is an increase of nine points on the last survey in 2014.

* * *
Mrs Housewife asked the vendor how much his apples cost.

“Two for 25 shillings,” he said. “How much is just one?” “Fifteen shillings.” “Then I’ll take the other one.”

* * *
The owner of a small shop began to worry when a large chain opened next door and erected a huge sign saying BEST DEALS.

Soon afterwards, another large corporation opened on the other side of his shop and put up a sign, LOWEST PRICES.

The little shopkeeper placed a large sign over his own doorway. It said, MAIN ENTRANCE.


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