I was doing some work around our condo this weekend and needed a few supplies. I walked over to our neighborhood hardware store, a small store crammed floor to to ceiling with a little bit of everything one might need for home repairs, to pick up these supplies. I love this store … it reminds me of the hardware stores I used to visit when I was a kid. They still sell nuts and bolts and other small items individually. You pick what you need from a bin, write down the bin # and take it to the cash to pay.
I picked up 6 dry wall anchors costing $0.15 each along with several packages of other items that I needed. The cashier rang up my purchases and told me that I owed her $23 and change. I thought for a moment, looked at my purchases, and suggested that the amount seemed rather high. We reviewed the bill and discovered that I had given her the wrong bin # for the wall anchors. She was charging me for 6 cup hooks, not 6 wall anchors.
As I was walking home I thought about the encounter for a few moment. The computer-based cash register clearly displayed the description of each item I purchased along with the price. The cashier did not confirm that was she rang in matched what I had purchased and then proceeded to blame me for giving her the wrong bin #! What if the encounter had been a medical one? Just because a computer is involved doesn’t mean that we should assume that the information presented is correct. Human judgment still plays a critical role in any interaction involving a computer. We need to always consider the human factor and provide appropriate mechanisms for information review and confirmation of all actions.