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Person I know works on the checkout tills for a major supermarket chain in the UK.

Management have begun timing each till operator from the moment a new customer’s first item is scanned until their last and the “total” button is pressed.

The company produces league tables every week and those cashiers that are slowest are in danger of being culled from the workforce.

A count of 15 items per minute is considered slow. A count of 20 items a minute is considered fast.

Here are my three main points:

1. The cashier is not the bottleneck in the transaction – customers are. No-one can pack 20 items a minute into plastic bags once you take into account ferreting around to open new ones, trying to pack all the frozen food into one bag, etc., etc.

2. There are no queues. There’s no point a cashier pushing 20 items a minute through a till if there are no queues behind the current customer.

3. Said same supermarket offers vouchers off the customer’s next shop. A customer may well come along with £80 of shopping, forgetfully allow the cashier to process all £80 before saying “oh hang on – I’ve got two £5 off £35 vouchers.” The cashier then has to void £45 of items off their bill with the clock still running, produce a subtotal, discount the shopping by £5, do it all again for the next £35 and then put the remaining £10 through the till. It’s like Russian roulette wondering which awkward customer will trip a cashier up and scupper their “items per minute” rate.

On the basis of the above, said supermarket is now sacking a small number of cashiers because of their “poor” performance – 15-16 items per minute rather than 18-20 items per minute.

Here’s an example of the UK today – efficiency savings which save absolutely nothing and measures of efficiency which mean absolutely nothing – till “throughput rates” when there are no queues and random events which falsify results.

Just wanted to share the above with you and wondered whether anyone had an opinion or similar examples (taking the bedroom tax as read).

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...treating people as robots.....Oh wait do away with people completely, too costly, slow and time consuming.

I have always thought they should ask if they have any vouchers before they scan the first item, saves time faffing at the end. ;)

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Management have begun timing each till operator from the moment a new customer’s first item is scanned until their last and the “total” button is pressed.

Was that nugget of worker assessment dreamed up at the David Brent school of management?

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I'd like to see this tried at Tesco in Bury but you'd need several generations of monitors handing the clock down to their offspring to time the average cashier from start to finish.

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Person I know works on the checkout tills for a major supermarket chain in the UK.

Management have begun timing each till operator from the moment a new customer’s first item is scanned until their last and the “total” button is pressed.

The company produces league tables every week and those cashiers that are slowest are in danger of being culled from the workforce.

A count of 15 items per minute is considered slow. A count of 20 items a minute is considered fast.

Here are my three main points:

1. The cashier is not the bottleneck in the transaction – customers are. No-one can pack 20 items a minute into plastic bags once you take into account ferreting around to open new ones, trying to pack all the frozen food into one bag, etc., etc.

2. There are no queues. There’s no point a cashier pushing 20 items a minute through a till if there are no queues behind the current customer.

3. Said same supermarket offers vouchers off the customer’s next shop. A customer may well come along with £80 of shopping, forgetfully allow the cashier to process all £80 before saying “oh hang on – I’ve got two £5 off £35 vouchers.” The cashier then has to void £45 of items off their bill with the clock still running, produce a subtotal, discount the shopping by £5, do it all again for the next £35 and then put the remaining £10 through the till. It’s like Russian roulette wondering which awkward customer will trip a cashier up and scupper their “items per minute” rate.

On the basis of the above, said supermarket is now sacking a small number of cashiers because of their “poor” performance – 15-16 items per minute rather than 18-20 items per minute.

Here’s an example of the UK today – efficiency savings which save absolutely nothing and measures of efficiency which mean absolutely nothing – till “throughput rates” when there are no queues and random events which falsify results.

Just wanted to share the above with you and wondered whether anyone had an opinion or similar examples (taking the bedroom tax as read).

sounds a bit like Royal Mail over the last couple of years.

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You're right about the customer being the bottleneck. Over half the items in my trolley usually are reduced ones, and frequently (because the reduced labels they print are utter rubbish) require the poor person on the till having to enter all of them entirely manually, probably dropping their rate to about 4 per minute maximum. I always apologise and have a chat to them too as I feel pretty bad about it and, well, it's nice to be friendly especially when you know they've been sitting there all day dealing with arseholes. However, I'm guessing our cordial transaction would rapidly become hostile if it meant their job was on the line.

I wonder if the programmers writing their systems have considered swines like me?

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I have a good friend who works for some cracked up firm running the employment of hard to place fruit loops.

He's working most weekends to meet his target.

Has no time for anything other than work. If he does not meet his target hes out in his ****, the first time it happens.

I should add he is seen as one of their better drones, sorry assets.

The thing that always gets me with this is his employers have attached a fat cash pipe to this area of gubmint spending and are now shafting their employees ever harder to realise their profit. This is work that should still be done in house.

To cap it all he's on an I/O mortgage and hasnt cleared a cent in 6 years.

Rinse and repeat all across the UK.

People out there are getting screwed.

Some of it is their own fault and some if it isnt.

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And they wonder why people want to stay on benefits.

I would give up my job tomorrow if I could but as a single guy £72 a week isn't enough.

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Person I know works on the checkout tills for a major supermarket chain in the UK.

...

Have you a better suggestion on how you can benchmark check out staff performance?

Edited by Squeeky

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Supermarkets should have two sets of queues. One for people who have their sh1t together, and one for the rest. Anyone in the sh1t together queue who fails to pack their stuff and pay within suitably speedy timescales should then be charged extra or sent to the back of the slow queue to try again.

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Very surprised they weren't doing this before.

I worked for a major US supermarket ten years ago, and we were timed - I forget the speed required, but if you didn't meet it at least 70% of the time you'd be called in by HR, and every week a table went up showing everyone's score - mine was usually in the 80s, never got called in.

The till showed how you were doing as you went on, so you knew if you were scanning fast enough or not. I do remember that it was a real exercise in fixed/variable 'costs' - you had a certain time per item, plus time for paying, the payment takes about as long however many items they had, so if they put down just a few items you were very unlikely to meet the timing requirement on that transaction, but as soon as they were about ten or over you had the luxury of slowing down, talking to them, etc.

I always assumed that went on at supermarkets here, too. Assuming the timings are set reasonably, don't have a problem with it, it was a fine way of testing checkout staff performance.

That said, one of the reasons I always use self-service is that I can't believe how slow most checkouts here are, so I suppose in retrospect it's no real shock that they weren't being monitored.

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Have you a better suggestion on how you can benchmark check out staff performance?

Customer feedback, or co-worker (from another store) feedbacks by watching the check out video and see if their peers are pulling their weight?

A checkout can take ages if a customer is one of those 'extreme couponer'.

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Speaking from experience, I always get a checkout operator who literally throws the items down the belt and gets to the total as quickly as possible. I'm always left packing while he/she announces the total and expects me to drop everything to put my card in the machine. I just can't see how faster cashiers improves things.

I think it's already been said - they could have lane grading so you know the cashier you're going to does 15 items a minute and another does 20. Just have fast and slow lanes. Works on the motorway. And now we have a two-tier emergency service too - 111 versus 999. And we have a two-tier police service - community support officers versus the real police. I'd even go as far as to suggest we need two-tier accident and emergency departments in hospitals, since they're nearing breaking point. And two-tier wards since a night's stay in hospital costs £300 per person whereas at a holiday inn it costs £60.

Edited by AvidFan

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Person I know works on the checkout tills for a major supermarket chain in the UK.

Management have begun timing each till operator from the moment a new customer’s first item is scanned until their last and the “total” button is pressed.

The company produces league tables every week and those cashiers that are slowest are in danger of being culled from the workforce.

A count of 15 items per minute is considered slow. A count of 20 items a minute is considered fast.

Here are my three main points:

1. The cashier is not the bottleneck in the transaction – customers are. No-one can pack 20 items a minute into plastic bags once you take into account ferreting around to open new ones, trying to pack all the frozen food into one bag, etc., etc.

2. There are no queues. There’s no point a cashier pushing 20 items a minute through a till if there are no queues behind the current customer.

3. Said same supermarket offers vouchers off the customer’s next shop. A customer may well come along with £80 of shopping, forgetfully allow the cashier to process all £80 before saying “oh hang on – I’ve got two £5 off £35 vouchers.” The cashier then has to void £45 of items off their bill with the clock still running, produce a subtotal, discount the shopping by £5, do it all again for the next £35 and then put the remaining £10 through the till. It’s like Russian roulette wondering which awkward customer will trip a cashier up and scupper their “items per minute” rate.

On the basis of the above, said supermarket is now sacking a small number of cashiers because of their “poor” performance – 15-16 items per minute rather than 18-20 items per minute.

Here’s an example of the UK today – efficiency savings which save absolutely nothing and measures of efficiency which mean absolutely nothing – till “throughput rates” when there are no queues and random events which falsify results.

Just wanted to share the above with you and wondered whether anyone had an opinion or similar examples (taking the bedroom tax as read).

Ha!

Yep, makes me want to push my face into a pillow and scream!

I worked too many years for a major breakdown service as a patrol. They were constantly monitoring our performance like this. It was fecking cryptic man! We'd get a colourful monthly printout with a load of meaningless numbers. In there, somewhere, I bet they'd managed to quantify every aspect of taking a shit during shift time.

I remember, they took the entire patrol force off the road for TWO DAYS just to explain how the new shift pattern worked! Twelve months later they scrapped the idea! It must have cost them a fortune!

For a while I got quite obsessed with playing their game and making sure my performance figures were in the top 5% of our team. This basically involved endangering peoples lives, bodging repairs and typing ******** codes into the computer. Never again will I reduce my life to such a debased level. The people who take this stuff seriously are already dead, they just don't know it yet.

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I just left a job where one of my tasks was contract management. Just prior to me leaving we were called into a meeting and told of a new pricing structure to apply to contracts; this new structure had no recognition of the actual costs our contractors could reasonably be

expected to incur while meeting requirements.

We were given targets of the number of contracts to convert to the new prices while also meeting our normal workload, no extra resources, no notice to contractors, if they couldn't match cost contract ceased and retendered.

At the same time there was an office reorganisation and redundancies so less staff to do the work.

Very glad I'm out of it.

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Have you a better suggestion on how you can benchmark check out staff performance?

Why waste your time doing it at all? Faster checkout operators do not increase velocity through the tills, therefore it is wasting everybody's time to assess it.

They'd be better analysing the causes of the customer slowing down the process, e.g. More ergonomic bagging processes.

Look at Theory of Constraints by Eli Goldratt. As an operations professional (that sounds really arsey, but not sure how else to describe what I do)I have found the changes they have made to 'speed things up' amusing. It just results in the cashier waiting on me packing. It has the negative effect of making the customer feel pressured too, but my experience of working with some of the big multiples is that they are not staffed with intelligent people, but lots of 'aggressive go-getters' , so I'm not surprised.

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Just another reason why I am glad I no longer shop at Tesco's. I stopped when I found out they were getting free slaves via workfare.

Why does it require a person to measure performance surely the till could tell how much someone is scanning.

I may only be one person, but every little helps.

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It has the negative effect of making the customer feel pressured too, but my experience of working with some of the big multiples is that they are not staffed with intelligent people, but lots of 'aggressive go-getters' , so I'm not surprised.

As I said - just have "fast" and "slower" lanes and let people choose how they want to be treated.

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Every time I go to Tesco, all the stuff I want is sold out. I'm guessing everyone else is skint too?

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It wasn't Tesco that my friend worked for, by the way. Although I expect exactly the same practises take place throughout the industry.

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Speaking from experience, I always get a checkout operator who literally throws the items down the belt and gets to the total as quickly as possible. I'm always left packing while he/she announces the total and expects me to drop everything to put my card in the machine. I just can't see how faster cashiers improves things.

Quite. I REFUSE to pack faster, if they have been throwing the items down at me. I make them wait, I ignore the glares, and the announcement of the total, as if - just as you say - I'm expected to drop everything, and then pay. Because if I do that, the next customer is then standing over me breathing down my neck waiting for me to hurry up - and the idiot fast-cashier starts to throw THEIR items down the chute on top of mine in an effort to force me to panic and speed up my packing to their pace, crushing my own shopping in haste.

That's the other aspect of this - they show no respect for the more delicate items when they throw them around in an effort to scan faster. It's normally apples, they end up with bruises all over them. I've now taken to answering "Do you need help with your packing?" with "I'm ok thanks, as LONG AS YOU DON'T THROW MY APPLES".

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  • 243 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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