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Why the Other Line Moves Faster

(YouTube link)

The Engineer Guy, Bill Hammack (previously at Neatorama) explains why standing in line at the checkout counter is so frustrating, especially during Christmas shopping season. He also tells of a better idea, if we will only accept it. -Thank, Bill!

1) Or retailers could do like Apple stores do, abolish lines, and give each employee on the floor a handheld card swiper. For many retail models, however, this wouldn't work. But there are probably several retail stores that COULD benefit from this.

2) His wife called him on a landline.
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Am I missing something here 'cause the combined queue concept has been in use for years, at least here in Canada. Yes, the multiple cashier thingy is still widely used by many retailers, but banks, movie theatres, several big box stores, fast-food restaurants... lots of them use the combined queue thingy to move customers to the next available teller/cashier. Heck, Walmart even has a greeter at the head of the line that lets distracted customers know when a cashier is available. And who hasn't heard the ol' familiar "can I help who's next, please?" while standing in line at a burger joint or coffee shop or train station or wherever? Like I said, unless I'm missing something, this concept is not new and has been in place for years. Maybe it just hasn't caught on elsewhere?
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This theory is a bunch of hooey. The reason the other lines are faster is because of the idiot in front of me who is using a million coupons, and then paying with a check.
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Combined queuing is not really faster. It reduces the variation in queue time, but not the average wait itself. Also in separate queues, customers will self-optimize towards the faster queues. They can't do that with combined queues. So combined queues are fairer, but not faster in absolute terms.

Also one reason for long queues is that retailers pay their employees for their time, but not their customers. So provided the customers are happy, the retailer has no reason to make their wait shorter.
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This reminds me of a time once when I was at Home Depot. If you're familiar with their set-up, you know that every two registers basically share an "aisle," only about 3 or 4 feet wide.

When I was ready to check out, there were two registers open, both together, and each having one customer, no lines. I stood behind them both, but aligned in the middle, so I could step up to the next available register.

Well, some alpha male steps up behind me a couple of minutes later, huffs and says, "Which register are you at?" I politely replied, "Whichever opens first," and smiled. The man became visibly annoyed and huffed again.

His hope, apparently, was simply to have the opportunity at getting behind the faster person and getting out first. In my head, it just made more sense to prevent either of us from getting stuck waiting forever.
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I am not sure I agree with his ABC conclusion.

I do not care if my line is the fastest (BB). I care that I don't choose the slowest or BB. According to his math, I have a 4 out of 6 chance of choosing one that isn't the slowest.
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