The Cashless Society

The year was 1976. I was attending Catawba College and involuntarily was assigned to an evening class with real adult people actually working out in the real world.

Several of the men told us they were working on a business proposal that seemed far-fetched at the time. The idea of low speed wireless data was brand new and their idea was that they could build a cell phone like device into vending machines.

This would allow the vending route person to know what was selling in real time, allowing fewer replenishment trips, changing the prices in the machine without having to visit in person, and to call the police if somebody was trying to break into the machine.

All of that has come to pass – today I finally took the plunge and used my debit card to buy a soda from the soda machine at the AAA garage while my car was being inspected.

Unlike a normal machine where you put the money in first, then choose your selections and get change – when you’re paying by debit card they need to authorize the card first before you choose what you want.

I was a little bit confused, so I actually wound up buying two sodas! In some things, I’m the last guy to arrive at the party.

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7 Responses to The Cashless Society

  1. CC1s121LrBGT says:

    I’ve been on the lookout for one that takes Google Pay or Apply Pay so you don’t need plastic money.

    There are now vending machines with facial recognition and they will speak to you as you walk by, suggesting products based on your past purchase history. They are also smart enough to figure out their optimal restocking product remix – It doesn’t make sense to stock them with the same number of each product when some products sell better than others at a given location.

    Unstated is whether the facial recognition machines snap photos of the people vandalizing the machines or stealing from them. You’re guess is as good as mine. 😉

    • Fred Stiening says:

      The vending machine behaved like it would take Apple pay but the phone didn’t seem to get to the point of doing the final authorization step. I suspect I needed to enter the list of things I wanted to buy first. If you are buying multiple items, they would want to avoid making multiple authorizations.

  2. TheChairman says:

    If cashless is the carrot, then ‘cashierless’ checkout is a stick. When this first appeared in grocery stores years ago, my reaction was: “If I’m doing checkout & bagging, then I want a discount.” Frankly, I’ve avoided the self-checkout as long as possible. I prefer a person, and some items (e.g. by weight) are better handled by a real store cashier.

    Some stores, Home Depot for example, are forcing customers into it. After 6 – 7 p.m. my local HD only uses self-checkout… this can be challenging for material with odd lengths and if a bar code is missing or not used. I’m starting to avoid Home Depot.

    Two weeks ago, after having no choice, I stepped up to the HD self-checkout register. After the first item scanned, the scanner stopped. A ‘human monitor’ came over and literally smacked the machine, bumped it, and it began functioning again. I told her I’d remember that procedure. My next issue was trying to get proper change (I paid with cash): the total was just under $35.00 so I wanted to put in a $50 bill + $5 bill, so as to get a $20 bill back… except the machine/interface doesn’t allow it.

    • Fred Stiening says:

      The trick would have been to put the $5 bill in first.

      I recently did (sortof) the self checkout at the Wal-Mart market store. The only lane staffed was the service desk.

      • TheChairman says:

        Yes. After realizing there wasn’t a way to tell the interface that I was finished, it occurred to me that I needed to outwit the thing. At that point I was a bit anxious, as there was a line forming and the woman monitoring the machines had just assaulted mine. 😉

    • CC1s121LrBGT says:

      JWO – Just Walk Out.

      That is the name of the grocery store technology that Amazon has been beta testing. It recognizes your face when you walk in, follows you through out the store and then charges you based on what it sees you leave with. No lines, not check outs.

      Word has it that is has been doing exceptionally well. The main issue is has is tracking groups. When people come in as a group and leave as a group, no problems. It gets confusted when people come in as a group and leave singularly or as part of a different group – who should pay and how much. It is refreshing to know that some problems never go away- this is the same problem when a group goes out to dinner together and someone leaves early or joins late. lol

      Not the date on this article – January 2017. It was before Amazon bought Whole Foods.

  3. briand75 says:

    Well, I want my stuff for free 🙂 I see so many other folks getting things for free, how about me?

    (God, I love this progressive mantra stuff!)

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