Tag Archives: shopping

Unexpected item in the bagging area

This is an old sketch, but a decade or so on, it’s still rather relevant at some of the supermarkets I visit:

(direct link)

Love it.

I’m still bemused, long after we stopped using disposable carrier bags, at how many of these machines still can’t cope with the weight of a bag you’ve brought yourself. Even those that supposedly have a ‘Use own bag’ facility always end up calling a staff member for support…

Waitrose, of course, was ahead of the game on this one. They introduced their self-scan-as-you-shop system about 16 years ago, and we’ve been using it ever since. And if you do prefer to scan at the end using their self-checkout tills, there’s none of this ridiculous weighing business.

As a friend put it some years ago…

“Waitrose? That’s the place where, as you walk out, they mention that it would be awfully nice if you gave them some money?”

It’s rather pleasing that, after all this time, that system still seems to work for them.

The times, they are a-changin’


Having bought a large number of items on Amazon this week, I felt there was a certain irony about this sign at a bricks-and-mortar store…

What I want from Amazon

I buy masses of stuff through Amazon. And I do take note of the reviews left by others. When you do a search, you can choose to order the results by average customer review, which is almost useful, but not quite.

The problem is that if there is only one review, but it’s rated 5-stars, that item will appear at the top. Similarly, an item could be unfairly blighted by a single negative review. I’m not so interested in things that were only bought by the vendor’s cousin, who thought it was great.

So, Amazon, could you come up with something like this, please?

“Sort by the median value where there are more than 5 reviews, and where there are 5 or fewer, by a value somewhere between the mean and the average rating used for all reviews on the entire site, weighted towards the former proportionately to the number of reviews.”

Ideally, a given user’s review would also be weighted to some degree based on the distribution of that user’s reviews for any other products as well. And I’d like to be able to tweak the parameters for my own searches.

Of course, any scheme like this could be gamed, so they’d probably need to keep the actual algorithm secret and change it from time to time, like Google. They could call it Q-Rank; I wouldn’t mind. This would also have another significant advantage:

They’d be able to fit it in the pull-down menu.

Good hydrations

I know I’m back in America, when even my shopping cart has two beverage cup holders.

Not a bad idea, really…

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser