Friday, November 30, 2007

Why do we have to wait for receipts?

Leaving the house this morning, I notice the car is almost out of gas. Not "glowing light" bad, but Lawrence is a long ways off, so we aren't gonna make it. So, I stop at Quik Trip. And when I am done and the hose is hung up, and the fuel port is all sealed, I am still waiting for the receipt to print... Though I have done this thousands of times, I just realized, this is a friction point. If I had the choice, I wouldn't put up with a wait in the cold here. I feel this is yet another case of modern technology being implemented in a way reminiscent of the past, yet missing enough of the point that it makes everything harder. Think of a receipt in a simple (or old-time) cash register, or adding machine. Its a record of what you /just/ typed. A couple lines get printed automatically when you press the button to say the transaction or calculation is complete. Then about 1 second later, you can rip it off and look at it. Why don't receipts on computerized registering systems (at the grocery store, at the gas pump) work like this? A transaction starts: print the header, date time. Pick a product, print it on the receipt. Total it, and it prints a couple lines. Etc. By the time you get to the end, Of course, in many stores, its even worse: You have to wait for the itemized receipt, then wait for the credit card receipt the store keeps, THEN they print the receipt you sign. And you sign it while the system and cashier is idle. Great planning. So, I have no faith anyone is actually working on improving this. Get used to the wait.


John Bossert said...

The capper is this. You go to pump your gas. Before you can pump, you have to answer questions, one of which is "Do you want a receipt?" You answer in the affirmative and proceed, certain that you'll get your receipt.

Pumping is done, and what do you see? A receipt? Nope. You see a message that says "See cashier inside for receipt."

Dang it. If I wasn't going to get a receipt, tell me that before I pump the gas. The only thing worse than a pump incapable of giving me a receipt is a pump that asks me if I want a receipt, convinces me I'm going to get one, and then ganks me at the end, forcing me to go inside, which I was trying to avoid in the first place by PAYING. AT. THE. PUMP.

shoobe01 said...

Good point. And not too dissimilar from my gripes about ATMs. And this time we know for a fact the computer has 2-way communications with its peripherals; when its time to get the receipt printed, you get the error.

Clearly, step one is to check the printer up front (or even: have a low-receipt alarm!). But starting to print the receipt early would do this check automatically for you.

I agree, I would actually move the car to another pump if I saw a notice there was no receipt printing. I pay at the pump to avoid going inside as well.