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Business: Supermarket: Checkout
Old Timey Self-Checkout   (+12)  [vote for, against]
A moment of calm amidst the incessant ramming of targeted advertisements into our brains.

Perhaps I wouldn't resent the automated self-checkout desks with such vigour if it weren't for the harrowing choir of "please place the item in the bagging area" (or worse, the monotony of meaningless Thank-Yous) resonating throughout the store. Mercifully some chains provide their machines with a mute button. However, every volume level resets as a new customer approaches, replenishing the unquenchable echo of artificial pleasantries.

Understandably, the running costs of machines vs. people strongly suggest that the robotic checkouts are here to stay.

But for those who struggle to remain conscious/sane during the self-checkout process, and for those folk simply averse to the newfangled technology, there has to be another option.

The principle of an Old Timey Self-Checkout is based on the near-universal appeal of mechanical couplings. The same technological backend can be used but all the ins and outs have been simplified or replaced.

Perhaps the screen can be an electromechanical flip-digit display, or at the very least a series of mechanical dials.

The thermal receipt printer now resembles a polished brass Victorian stock-ticker.

The balance of the bagging area should feature, subtly, a cast iron beam in its mechanism.

Plastic bags have got to go. The only provided packaging will be brown paper and string.

"Approval Needed" flag not dissimilar to the trafficator of an early motor vehicle.

But crucially, the only sound ever emitted by the contraption is, aside from the purring of internal gears, the ka-ching! of a vintage cash register.

It should be simple to use but devilishly complicated to repair. This isn't that radical a change in objective. But when things go wrong, instead of the hideous Windows XP CLI box, the problem shall be indicated by the simple removal of a side panel via, and exposing further, multiple large springs. I envision a second generation featuring steam going everywhere when store assistance is required.

Exterior surfaces finished in teak.
-- mitxela, Jan 04 2014

Of course the ever-present assistant should be dressed in a boiler suit, and should spend his idle moments oiling and polishing the machinery. [+]
-- Wrongfellow, Jan 04 2014

Perfection [+]
-- 8th of 7, Jan 04 2014

//A moment of calm amidst the incessant ramming of targeted advertisements into our brains.//

Is there a connection with Rentisham's?
-- Wrongfellow, Jan 04 2014

A wonderfully written, and well thought out idea. Bravo.+
-- blissmiss, Jan 05 2014

(+) Great visuals via the description. I can hear the wooden floor creaking. We'll need scissors for cutting the binding string.
-- cudgel, Jan 05 2014

//Is there a connection with Rentisham's?// Rentisham's is not sold at the sort of 'establishment' that has 'checkouts', let alone self-service ones.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 05 2014

You missunder-stand, [MB], the bit that is relevant is //the incessant ramming of targeted advertisements into our brains// viz. excessive product placement on certain specialist fora.
-- pocmloc, Jan 06 2014

Ah - well, with a product as universally useful as Rentisham's, it is difficult to avoid product placement, whether advertent or inadvertent.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 06 2014

you have worked in tech support, [mitxela]. I know this because you have a deep-seated hatred toward users of technology.
-- Voice, Jan 06 2014

<<<<<<<old-timer reverie... --- For some reason, this reminded me of a visit I made to the Science Museum in London in the late 1970's. They had a mock-up of the 'checkout of the future' (although not called 'checkout' of course). It had a few fake items of shopping with barcodes on them (I had never seen barcodes before) and a glass panel in the checkout with a laser barcode reader in it (and lasers then still had a slightly science-fiction aura about them). You could swipe the boxes and tins over the laser and see the prices come up on a screen (and even a computer screen was pretty exciting then). I remember being amazed and also pretty sure that I'd never see this in a real shop. --- /old-timer reverie...>>>>>>>
-- hippo, Jan 06 2014

[hippo] what modern commercial idea do you believe will never make it into shops? #lookingforplacestoinvest
-- Voice, Jan 06 2014

I'll have to think about that. I do remember going to a presentation on online shopping in the mid-90's and being pretty sure it would never take off.
-- hippo, Jan 06 2014

Bun for being well written. I appreciate that.
-- doctorremulac3, Jan 06 2014

//The thermal receipt printer now resembles a polished brass Victorian stock-ticker.//

That's a bit of a cheap shortcut, if you ask me.

Instead, what is needed is an original Underwood typewriter, modified to allow electrical activation. A suitably be-bunned secretaryesque mannequin sits poised at the keyboard, her fingers invisibly but permanently attached to the home keys to give the impression of typing out your receipt as the goods are scanned.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 06 2014

random, halfbakery