Month: October 2018

Untitled (No, that’s actually the title of the post)

A short post today, about some examples I’ve found during today’s job search of what downsizing and rightsizing has done to the workplace. When I was growing up, a dishwasher meant washing dishes and a cashier meant handling cash. That’s all.

Dishwashers do not prepare food and cashiers certainly are not responsible for tasks that involve security or heavy lifting.

Job titles and descriptions mean nothing in this Age of Austerity and the Jobless Recovery.

Enjoy, or perhaps not.

Heavy Lifting For A Cashier

Dishwasher No More



$y$tem Error

No shit, Sherlock…..but what was the problem? From my Tim Horton’s app I use to order coffee and spare myself from the purgatory that is a lineup.

One significant change that occured after the Great Recession of 2008-09 was the reduction of labour. You see it most often at a coffee shop or grocery store: the long single lineup that coils around the establishment interior, bracketed on either side by empty cash registers once staffed by employees that were happy to serve you.

Maybe I’m being facetious with the happy part.

10 years later, one would think in this so-called “recovery” that Corporate Canada would start hiring back more staff. After all, happy days are here again, right?

Wrong. There is a reason why I often refer to this recovery as a “jobless recovery”.

Corporate Canada has instead opted to offer apps and self-serve kiosks to deal with the backlog. They argue that such services are necessary with a rising minimum wage rate and the ease of forming unions. Customers want convenience, they continue. A machine can process a transaction faster than a human.

We’re paying for this convenience in the form of price hikes to cover the cost of implementing these things, in case any of you out there missed it.

As a former I.T, professional of 20 years, I can tell you with a lot of experience such systems may be convenient, but they are also highly fallible. I’ve been asked on many occasions at one job to track down a missing EDI order, and report what happened to that order to the EDI administrator so he can fix the trading partner glitch. It’s also why I.T. goes through a very detailed audit every year, usually for a duration of up to two weeks.

I’m also not a Luddite. I have a tablet with a Tim Horton’s app to bypass the long lineups I’ve mentioned at the start of this post, but it’s no solution.

For one thing, the damn thing doesn’t always work.

One time I ordered a coffee and orange juice on that app, and I kept getting the message you see in the post graphic. It wasn’t telling me exactly what the problem was, just that “helpful” message. Since I was not in the mood to wait in the Million Man March of a lineup, I decided to call on my past I.T. experience to diagnose the problem.

While musing, I remembered one time there was a Sears EDI order on a company system that could not be completed (inventory pulled, accounts updated, shipping notice and print documentation sent). One line item in the order used stock not stored on the system but manually tracked elsewhere, commonly used for items that were not regularly sold but as a speciality order. You have to enter a “dummy” record as a placeholder in the inventory file but not enter the particulars like quantity, price, logistics handler, etc. That record was missing so I ran a query statement to insert the dummy. The order was completed and the goods were shipped.

Based on that memory, I removed the orange juice from my app order and the app sent my order without a hitch. After I arrived at Tim Horton’s to pick up my coffee, I mentioned to an employee there the problem with my order and how removing the orange juice fixed it.  The employee replied, rather sheepishly, that message will come up when they’re out of an item.

That message really needs to be re-written. “Sorry, out of stock!” will suffice.

Last Saturday I went to Sobey’s to pick up a carton of milk and a bottle of orange juice. After seeing the single long lineup at the express checkout (with other cashiers telling me they don’t take checkouts of under 12 items), I went to the self-serve kiosk. I scanned the milk, which showed the correct name and price, then placed it in the open plastic bag offered at the side of the unit. The machine squawked, “Foreign item in bag, please check”. I looked back at the screen that showed the information about the milk, then peered into the plastic bag containing my carton of milk.

Right, it’s in the database but the sensor scanning my bag denies its existence.

Since the single employee usually assigned to stand at the kiosks and jump in to rescue hapless customers like myself was not there, I took my milk and orange juice and returned to the long express line.

These are but a fraction of examples I and no doubt many of you have experienced dealing with this New World Order of customer service and satisfaction. In their mad dash to remain profitable, Corporate Canada has presented a flawed solution that not only lacks the pleasant aspects of dealing with people, but cannot be held accountable for the mistakes made.

After all, one cannot fire hardware or software, and such things are not designed to say they’re sorry.

Thanks for reading.