January 23, 2010

Over the holidays I went to the movies. It was the first time in over a year that I’d been to this theater, and it has changed quite a bit. There’s now a local pizza restaurant and bar connected to the theater, making the whole dinner and movie date about as simple as it can get. But the most interesting change was the addition of kiosks to buy the movie tickets. Seemed a bit unnecessary as 1) the movie theater has never been that crowded, 2) you can buy tickets online already, 3) you can buy tickets at the credit card machine too.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of kiosks and self-service stations. Maybe I just like the control. For some reason, it makes me feel like I’m being more productive and more efficient. I realize this is often an illusion. This is why airline self check-in services are the best – it really is easier for me to tell my information to the computer than to use a human intermediary. However, at the grocery store (where I often use self check-out), it’s totally inefficient if I have more than a few items. I am just not as fast at scanning items or looking up fruits and veggies. Plus there’s the hassle of bagging, checking ID for alcohol, and other general computer issues. The more I’ve realized this, the more often I choose to go through the normal checkout. Besides, it can be good practice for five-minute small talk with the cashier.

But, as with everything, I have my exceptions. In this case, I don’t like using automated machines to do any of my banking. Strange seeing as I manage almost all my money online in some form or another. But in terms of getting cash and making deposits, always in person. I might just be paranoid, but I like going to the bank. I like the fact that the people at the bank know me and I like having a person there who can answer questions if I have them and I like being able to get cash that’s not in $20 bills.

I worry that more businesses will move the way of the airlines. I love that airlines make it easy to buy tickets, check-in, print boarding passes, etc. But understandably, this is only great because it works almost 100% of the time for me. And because of that success rate, I have no issue with the fact that if I want to work through a person to purchase tickets, it will cost me more. But finding actual help or customer support becomes so damn hard when everything gets automated.



  1. In terms of ATMs, I am a big fan of Bank of America’s machines that don’t require deposit envelopes. They’ll read the amount on the deposited checks, and/or count the bills and spit out counterfeits. If only they can check my tyre pressure when I pull up to the machine, that’ll be icing on the cake.

  2. I’ve never had a problem with ATMs for withdrawals. But, having worked in a bank, I don’t trust it for deposits.

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