Supermarkets should insist on checking the qualifications of customers wishing to use the self serve tills, said the Association of Supermarket Traders, and umbrella organisation representing the industry, today.
‘The introduction of these tills has been heralded as a huge step forward in reducing costs and improving customer satisfaction,’ said an Association spokesman today, ‘however it flies in the face of the trend to insist on minimum literacy and numeric qualifications for store employees,’ he added.
A survey of Buckinghamshire supermarket staff and self serve customers found that checkout staff had a median numeric qualification of grade B in GCSE mathematics, with only two operatives graded below grade D and ‘up to eight’ employees holding an ordinary degree in mathematics, ‘although most of these were from US internet based institutions or Glydwr University’, noted a spokesman for the Association.
In contrast, while a significant number of self serve customers were qualified at GCSE grade C and above, including one Cambridge-educated mathematician surveyed in Aylesbury’s ASDA who insisted he was lost and had only ‘popped in for directions’, some were functionally innumerate, or at least ‘incapable of keeping track of the number of fingers on their hands’.
‘Either the entry requirements for checkout staff are too high or the acceptance rate for customers is too low,’ said the Association spokesman, who noted that the Cambridge graduate was now trying to hone his numerical skills as a shelf stacker in the local store. ‘Hopefully he won’t find the exit too soon,’ said an ASDA spokesman, ‘as the store database hasn’t been this accurate since 2003.’