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.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Hermetic says:

    Go to New Jersey- Self-service is prohibited by law!

  2. GOLDEN ARCHES, ROBOTS AND THE SERVICE SECTOR
    Outside the Beltway points to a Washington Post article about vending machines and describes a fully automated restaurant run by McDonalds where one can purchase a portobelo-and-goat cheese sandwich. The article entry includes the concern, “But I alway…