‘Stationary Stationery’ – WH Smiths, East Sheen (1030)

Waiting to pay for an item at the till. I glance at the confectionery in front of me. A chocolate bar called ‘Puddles’ threatens to be reduced to just that in the airless atmosphere. I consider using the bell on the counter (‘Ring For Assistance’). A member of staff eventually shuffles into view, but not before I hear the glum words ‘£1.99’ from behind me. This, it transpires, is the customer being directed to the self-scan machine. Nothing else is uttered as the assistant shuffles back to the aisles. An automatic voice thanks me for my purchase and custom. On this showing perhaps the much valued ‘human touch’ is in danger of making itself redundant.

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