Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Introducing 'One till syndrome'

On 8 December 2006, I was standing in line with about 80 other people at Game in Beckton waiting for the Wii to start selling when I first recognised this syndrome.

They were only able to honour the first 60 of the preorders that they had taken money for, so there were a lot of angry people around. There were also the usual crop of people who heard them say that they only had systems for people who had preordered, but figured they'd stand in line just in case this didn't apply to them. So what did Game do? They opened 1 till.

Why? Every single time there is a new system released with high demand, there are people who will queue even if they haven't preordered. Every time there is a system released, there aren't enough to satisfy preorders and you have angry people in line. These are normal facts. So why not have a separate till / person that can deal with these people and keep the line flowing?

Since this first incident, I've noticed more and more instances of one till syndrome in our society and it doesn't just apply to retail situations that have tills. The Iron Maiden concert, where there were no signs explaining that there were different queues depending on what kind of ticket you have, and you wouldn't have known without asking someone. The tube station that only has one exit gate open because it's too crowded...

The examples are legion, but the cause seems to be underpaid, unmotivated people... people who work from a script and are more likely to get into trouble for doing something innovative or useful than they are likely to be praised for the effort.