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Are Some Service Workers Incompetent?

Updated on December 28, 2016


Whas has happened to our work force? Does companies realize what they are doing? Can we survive as a great nation?

- Dec. 2016


Three recent events were the inspiration for this hub. First, I was shopping at Staples and saw a big sign for computer paper on sale for a $2.99 per package. I was short on paper and decided to buy one. After paying for it at the counter, I was told by the cashier that you get one for free if you buy one. Sounds too good to be true. I picked up another pack. When I saw the receipt, it showed I paid $7.99 for paper. I went back and asked the cashier what is going on? She calmly said, oh, the sign is old. Thy changed the sale to buy one get one free and this is a great deal. I asked why is this a good deal, one for 2.99 and two for 7.99. It went right over her head.

Online Banking

Next, I was trying to reorder some checks from M & T bank. My checks was running low and I am on the last booklet. I went to my online banking site and sure enough, there was a menu item to reorder checks. I answered a few questions and submitted the request. After waiting a few days, I still did not get the checks. It usually arrives within a few days after I placed the order in the past. I went back online and found a message in my inbox. The person said they have no record of my past check order, even though I've been banking with them for 15 years. He asked me to provide a design preference of the check since I had asked for the same design. So I went to the link he provided and picked out a new design and emailed back what I wanted. After waiting a few more days, the checks did not come. I went back to the online site and noticed another message in my inbox. This time, the person on the other end asked if I was sure about this order since the one I've chosen was a little more expensive than the standard order. I couldn't belive it. How difficult is ordering a checkbook? And why does it take so long? I finally provided my cell number and said please call me if you still have questions. I am running really low on checks.

Cashier Making Change

Finally, I was in Dunkin Donuts and I ordered a coffee and some K cups. The bill came to $11.71. I game the cashier a $20 dollar bill. After she rung up on the machine, I noticed I have a penny in my change pouch. I gave her the penny and she didn't know how to make change. The machine told her to give me 8.29. Instead of just give me 8.30 back, she counted out 8.29, along with the 4 pennies I was trying to avoid. How is this possible?

HMart Checkout

The Moral of the Story

What is happening with our youth? Why can't they do the basics any more? This was not the case when I was growing up. One of the first thing I learned at my first job was to count change and be responsive to customers.

In contrast, you can still get great speedy service at some places. I shop once a week at an Asian grocery store. The cashiers there are fast and efficient and accurate. They need to know the codes of the various items and weight them. They can enter the amount of each items faster than I can place them on the conveyer belt. How is this possible? I am pretty sure they make about the same salary as the other clerks.


My observations are that, as a society, we have created a two tier worker system. A highly trained service class who can perform exotic trades and investing on wall street and a low, unskilled service class of illeterates. These are the ones primed for replacement by the automated robots. They want to be paid $15 per hour, a living wage, yet they can't perform the most basic functions.

Perhaps, the scientists working on Artificial Intelligence should rethink what they are doing. Why not teach the millions of humans to perform the task at hand rather than inventing a machine that can't be as good or as flexible or as "human". Sometimes, we just need the human touch.


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