CVS Phasing out most "live" help

Reply Fri 9 Dec, 2011 09:23 pm
Jocelyn Rivera has noticed something missing lately on her weekly visit to the CVS/pharmacy in Jamaica Plain: people behind the counter.

“It’s super-weird that you don’t see employees,’’ Rivera said. “I usually stopped and talked to them.’’

CVS Caremark Corp., the nation’s second largest drugstore chain, has been replacing human cashiers with unmanned checkout terminals at some stores in key urban markets, including Boston. Self-checkout machines are being added as part of a redesign of some CVS stores, which are also expanding their food sections. The self-scanners help to save labor costs, according to analysts. CVS cited another reason for the switch: to make shopping faster and more convenient for customers.

“We found that in urban markets, our customers shop our stores much more like a general store than a drugstore,’’ said Erin Pensa, director of public relations for CVS, in a statement. Self-checkout machines “make it easier for shoppers to get in and out of the store and have greatly reduced ‘rush hour’ lines,’’ Pensa said.

By the end of this year, CVS expects to complete redesigns in 420 of its 7,300 stores nationwide.

more here:


What's your opinion on this trend? Personally, I absolutely refuse to use a self-service checkout counter. I'll stand in line to do business with a live pwrson rather than deal with a computer terminal. It seems to me that especially now, at a time when unemployment is reaching for an all-time high, it is uncscionable to try and cut down on the work-force by replacing cashiers with self-service units.

Comments? Opinions?
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Lustig Andrei
Reply Fri 9 Dec, 2011 11:24 pm
What? No one has an opinion? No hatchets to grind?
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Reply Sat 10 Dec, 2011 07:06 am
I've been known to use the self checkout on occasion but I prefer dealing with a human.

Labor costs can kill a business though so I kind of get it from a business perspective. If a store starts losing money, everyone loses their job. It's a rock and a hard place.

I've seen several wonderful little shops in my neighborhood go under in the last two years. Each time the owner was so stressed out and exhausted because they were trying everything, especially getting rid of staff, in order to keep their doors open. Then the stress and exhaustion became too much and they closed up shop.

Then the people they bought goods from have to get rid of staff and so on and so on and so on.

I try to make it a point to spend my money as locally as possible even though it always costs more.
Reply Sat 10 Dec, 2011 02:27 pm
I would like to deal locally, too, but I've about given up on the idea for other than groceries. The last two things I bought over the internet took me a total of about two hours shopping locally, without success. It's not only a question of time; if they never heard of the object they act like I'm the one that isn't quite bright - usually by repeating my request very s-l-o-w-l-y. If not that, they sometimes respond with "What do you want with that?", or "Hey, this over here is what you really want." I found both items at Amazon. It took maybe twenty minutes, but I'm on dial up, after all.

I'm glad they've found jobs and all, but. . . .
Reply Sat 10 Dec, 2011 02:28 pm
PS I do favor the local bike shop. He really does provide really good service and knowledge, and is often cheaper than internet deals.
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Lustig Andrei
Reply Sat 10 Dec, 2011 08:15 pm
At first I just didn't like the impersonality of dealing with a computer terminal rather than a human being. I'm the kind of customer who kibbitzes with the hired help etc. But then I started to think, wait a minute. If these mechanical things become popular and take over, then those nice high-school kids who have part-time jobs behind the registers will be outta work. Don't use these abominations, Andy.

Mom and pop stores going out of business because they can't afford to service the payroll has no bearing on this at all. I've never seen a small neighborhood store try to substitute a machine for a sales clerk. Only the big guys can afford to do that because of the size of the sales force they already have on payroll. They want to cut down on that payroll; self-serve checkouts make sense for them because it's a one-time investment (rather than a weekly payroll item) with minimal maintenance costs.

The reason the mom-and-pops are closing shop isn't because of payroll or other overhead. It's because there's no way they can compete with the big guys -- the Wallmarts and the Home Depots and the Albertsons. They don't have the volume to justify the much lower prices that the big guys can afford to offer. Wallmart doesn't worry if it loses $1 milllion a day on a given low-priced item, as long as the ridiculously low price brings hordes of customers into the store. No worries, mate, we make up for it on other items. Can you see any small family-owned operation being abble to take a similar attitude? They end up with a deficit of $100 and they have difficulty making payroll.

Nahh. The guys who're pushing the self-service check-out system get absolutely no sympathy from me. They're not hurting. They're just trying to jack up even more obscene profits.
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