An Open Letter to Whole Foods Tribeca

Dear Whole Foods Tribeca (WFT):

I hate your express checkout line system.  Other Whole Foods (non-Tribeca) stores use an amazing system where everyone in the express checkout line waits in one line until a robot directs the person at the front of the line to the appropriate register.  It’s an effective way to quickly move customers through the line in the most efficient way possible.  Even the NY Times loves it.

Unfortunately, WFT has opted for a different model.  At WFT the express checkout has anywhere between 2 and 6 express checkout lines.  The lines are color-coded and correspond to a TV screen with similarly color-coded bands.  As registers open up, the register number scrolls across the screen on one of the color-coded bands.  The person who is waiting in that line goes to the register.  

In theory, it’s a fine system.  But here are all the reasons I hate it:

It causes a ton of anxiety as I approach the line area and have to determine which line is shortest.  Instead of just standing at the end of a long line, I must assess whether the shortish line in the yellow band is made up of couples or single people.  I have to consider whether someone deployed their kid to go stand in another color in case that line moves faster.  I have to judge whether a man and a woman standing next to one another and laughing are married or just flirty.  If all the lines are roughly the same length, I have to figure out which color is next up so I can stand in the line that will get me to the register faster.  

But most of all, the system is at its worst when the store isn’t actually crowded.  If there was one line and I was the only one in it, I would go to the next register.  But because there are five lines and no people, I have no freaking clue where I should stand.  And wouldn’t you know that the second I make a choice (inevitably a wrong one) someone else comes into a different line and hysteria breaks out.  

WFT, I mean, WTF? 

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