VENDING MACHINES COME OF AGE
This WaPo about McDonald’s new self-service convenience store franchise intrigues me:
If the portobello-and-goat-cheese sandwich doesn’t drop at the Redbox vending machines that McDonald’s has sprinkled around the Washington area, shaking the box isn’t possible, and shooting it won’t help. The average machine is 18 feet wide, weighs several tons and has a bulletproof glass facade.
In fact, if there is any problem with the more-than-130-item, 24-hour automated convenience stores — if, say, the interior temperature rises above 40 degrees, the coin dispenser runs low or the tampons sell out — the machine will e-mail and page the McDonald’s support staff operating out of an office in Bethesda, before the customer can even finish cursing.
Aside from the loss of even more low skill, entry level jobs, this sounds like a good development. It should provide great convenience and cost savings for customers. And there’s no clerk to rob, which is a good thing.
But I always wonder what it is that people who get displaced by these labor saving devices do. To take an obvious example, thirty years ago, self service pumps at gasoline stations were a curiousity; now, they’re the norm. Indeed, now I’m aggravated if they don’t let me pay at the pump with my credit card.