September 24th, 2014


Call Me Ludd

I went into Tonbridge Post Office and there was only one manned counter in operation and all the others had been replaced by machines. A cheery woman was trying to get us to use the machines and because the queue for the one counter was so long and immobile Ailz and I succumbed. We had a small packet to post. First we had to tell the machine that we wanted to speak to it in English and afterwards what it was we needed it to do. Only it did nothing but issue instructions. It told us to weigh and measure our packet and swipe it past sensors and then, because we'd said the packet was a letter and the PO classified it as a package (how were we to know?) it stopped talking to us and we had to start all over again from the beginning. If the cheery woman hadn't been standing at our elbows directing our every move we'd never have completed the process.

I hate automation. It doesn't make things easier for the customer, rather the reverse. And it denies him or her that mitigating human contact. Also it puts people out of work.  All it achieves- and this is why they're doing it- is to shift money from the many to the few. It's good news for directors and shareholders, bad news for everyone else.

Finally (you bastards) if you're going to automate please simplify the process. All this measuring and weighing and swiping is a pain. Either make your machines more intelligent or do away with all the variations in service.  Let's have two prices: one for little things and one for big things. And, while you're about it, now you've got your customers doing all the work, how about dropping your prices?