“Surprising Item in the Bagging Area”

collection_of_modelsApart from being a great potential title for my imaginary band’s next album (or two possible names for bands i.e. “Surprising Item” and “Bagging Area”) this is a surprising announcement that I have recently heard a couple of times in the Morrisons self-checkout.  The question is “How on earth did they come up with that specific phrase?”  We even had a discussion about it,  imagining the excruciating system design meetings where the wording for that particular eventuality was discussed in exquisite detail and at inordinate length.  It must be meaningful, not confusing, not patronising but still inform and hold the attention of the “bagger”.

"What about 'surprising'?"
“What about ‘surprising’?”

In the end I decided that the more appropriate word would have been “unexpected” – “Unexpected item in the bagging area”.  That actually tells you something about what the system is “expecting” and that there is something amiss that is probably the result of something that the “bagger” has done rather than the system.  “Surprising” is very pleasing, indeed a charming response.  It is positively playful and possibly even whimsical and poetic.  It is, one could say, an “unexpected item in the system error message repertoire” or more accurately a “surprising item in the system error message repertoire“.

This is, then, one more reason to be a proud Morrisons customer, that they should have self-checkout machines that can be surprised by an item in the bagging area.  One can be fairly sure that at Waitrose they would never be surprised by any item in the bagging area.  On the other hand I do like the self-scanners at Waitrose.  I shall miss these very much when back in Sydney if Woolworths and Coles remain behind the shopping automation times for the one simple reason they have meant “no queue” supermarket shopping and that is definitely a great step forward for civilization.

8 thoughts on ““Surprising Item in the Bagging Area”

  1. steve January 25, 2016 / 11:11 am

    Waitrose, Sainsbury, Tesco, etc all opt for the more prosaic “unexpected”. Perhaps these have subliminally primed your expectation!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Toby the Cat January 25, 2016 / 11:29 am

      Well I have never had an unexpected item at any of these other stores so it was an especially novel experience.


  2. Everything Will Be Okay at the End January 27, 2016 / 12:19 am

    So what/where is this? A voice announcement or prompt on a screen or something else? …. im not sure about Coles but Woolworth has self checkouts. So has Kmart and others… I ignore them as much as i can because doing it on my own is too hard for my back and hands…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Toby the Cat January 27, 2016 / 8:03 am

      It is a voice message, like “Please place item in the bagging area”. My friend Steve commented that most of the other stores he is aware of here use the “Unexpected” form as I had proposed. I much prefer “Surprising” – it is so, well, unexpected!

      I can see that these self-checkouts would not work for you but the main benefit for me about all this getting the customer to do all the work is the queue avoiding. One rarely has to queue using these and especially with the scanner that you carry around with you in the store. When you get to the checkout all you have to do is pay. You can even bag your stuff as you go round.


  3. tomwjc January 30, 2016 / 8:49 am

    Heavy analysis here


    • Toby the Cat January 30, 2016 / 9:38 am

      Yes, my existential angst was really up a notch or two after hearing that message. BTW: don’t let any of your musical mates pinch those band names before I fail to use them.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s