lifestyle

Seniors annoyed as Japanese convenience stores adopt touch-screen age verification

24 Comments
By SoraNews24

Walking into most major convenience stores in Japan, and buying either cigarettes or alcohol will put you face-to-face with the ultimate in security to prevent minors from acquiring these forbidden fruits. It comes in the form of a touchscreen display on the register that prompts the customer to touch “OK” if they are indeed over the age of 20.

Failure to do so would end the transaction and touching “OK” would make the customer a “liar-liar” and their pants would thus become “on fire”…or so we're told. Even if that doesn’t hold true, these buttons also have the magical ability to transfer legal liability away from the store in the event something is sold to a minor.

In other words, it’s pretty much okay for minors to buy tobacco and alcohol products as long as they go on record as lying to do so, and everyone is happy.

However, while this may be great news for juvenile delinquents and other naughty nellies alike, there is one segment of the population who are none to happy with the system: seniors.

Of course there’s the annoyance of constantly being asked confirm your age when you are clearly over 20. But more importantly, this automated age-verification system has become so commonplace that the purchase of a can of beer is usually accompanied by the clerk grunting and half-hardheartedly gesturing to the screen while hardly even glancing at the customer. It’s what columnist Masahiko Katsuya is calling a major lack of communication on the part of the store and a sign of the “hardening of society” on the whole.

After the topic was raised by media in Japan, comments from those old enough to never be mistaken for a teenager have ranged from mild amusement to irritation.

“I usually snap at the clerk, ‘Is it possible for someone underage to be bald and have wrinkles?!'”

“I tell them, ‘I look THAT young? Thank you!'”

“It’s really annoying but I just want to get my beer and get out of there so I play along.”

Meanwhile, younger netizens stood up for the touchscreen system or at the very least felt it was a non-issue.

“If they hate the touch screen so much, then they should just buy their alcohol and cigarettes at a supermarket.”

“It’s better this way so they don’t discriminate against anyone.”

“These annoyed old people are still going to be annoyed if they’re verbally asked their age.”

“It always looks like I’m about to enter an adult website when that screen pops up.”

“I’m so conditioned to it, I reach for it even when I’m just buying snacks.”

Sadly for the older generation, this dehumanization of convenience stores is only beginning. The major chains have all stated their intentions to operate without cashiers in the very near future to save costs.

The stage is already being set. Investments are being made in microchips cheap enough that they can be placed in stores’ items for automatic ringing up and payment. Also, as a young commenter pointed out, this age verification button seems to have the convenient side effect of further reducing human interaction and thereby conditioning us so that the friendly clerk will not be as missed when the time comes.

But while it appears inevitable, the fact that the elderly are now a huge chunk of the Japanese population means their purchasing power cannot be ignored. As the comments also mentioned, if they don’t like the way convenience stores are handling customer service, their money going elsewhere will speak louder than their words ever will. Luckily, with supermarkets and vending machines, there are no shortages of places to buy liquor and smokes in Japan.

Sources: News Post Seven, Itai News

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Store employee uses barcode scanner to defeat knife-wielding robber

-- Super-enthusiastic convenience store clerk fights the man, continues serving the people

-- Japan’s Family Mart convenience store chain adding fitness clubs to select locations

© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

24 Comments
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Agree 100%. It is useless and troublesome, especially when you buy alot of things, fumble for your wallet, point card, AND on top of that have to push a stupid button.

Also, its bizzare. Why only the conbinis? We don't show ID when we go to the liquor store, supermarket, Izakaya, or family restaurants. Its stupid, and people have a right to complain.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Aly RustomToday  07:10 am JST

Agree 100%. It is useless and troublesome,

Objectively speaking, it's not useless. It has a use - transferring responsibility for underage purchases to the person making them.

As for if it's troublesome, that's a matter of personal opinion, but I have to wonder about any able-bodied individual who thinks it's troublesome to touch a screen once that's usually mere centimeters from where their hand probably is anyway.

Most of the time if I don't automatically touch the screen myself, the staff at my conbinis just reach over and touch it for me.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I hate touch screen things, they are very unhygienic. I wonder how often they clean the sceen - after each customer? I think not.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Useless and troublesome. Does not solve the actual problem of purchases by underage persons. Is a worse solution than eyeballing and demanding ID if necessary. Reminds me of recent trend not so say someone is dead, but rather they are "not breathing and in cardiac arrest". A national trait of being finicky and ritualistic rather than being easygoing and realistic...

5 ( +7 / -2 )

It has a use - transferring responsibility for underage purchases to the person making them.

Yes. It "may" transfer the responsibility but, we must ask ourselves "What is the purpose of this?" The answer is to prevent underage drinking. Not to transfer responsibility. If the stores were serious about preventing underage drinking, the would do a simple ID check.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

so the complainers would rather fumble about in their wallet for some ID? What if you have no ID?

Just push the damn button and be glad its so easy.

Some folk.....sheesh!

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Why not put a button on the machine for the worker to hit when it's obvious the person is over 30? I guess store owners can't trust their employees. So the majority have to put up with this idiotic inconvenience to satisfy the corporate lawyers? Complaining is necessary in a capitalist society.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Is there an actual precedent in Japan for a button press getting a shop that sold booze or cigarettes to a minor off the hook? Is that how the law actually works? Or is it just conjecture by senior management?

If a naughty high schooler buys booze at a supermarket and at a conveni with a button, only the supermarket is responsible?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Just touching a screen, takes less than a second and half the time the clerk does it for you. Some people seriously need to relax !

About the transfer of responsibility katsu78 talked about, he is absolutely right. I don't know how many of you worked in customer service or restaurants, but making a customer sick or selling cigarettes or alcohol to a minor is a huge deal !

So they need an "insurance" just in case. Convenience stores aren't going to sell tobacco to 12 years old, of course. But some people look older than they are, so a mistake can happen. In this case : "He pressed the button ! Not my fault if he lied about his age !"

In some restaurants using touch screens, there is a message about drunk driving before ordering alcohol; that's the same thing : if the person has an accident afterwards, they can just say "we warned him, that's not our problem !".

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Most of the time if I don't automatically touch the screen myself, the staff at my conbinis just reach over and touch it for me.

Why not fit an override button for staff to press in the majority of cases?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

If a naughty high schooler buys booze at a supermarket and at a conveni with a button, only the supermarket is responsible?

Actually, no. I work at a supermarket so I know about this. If you authorize the sale of age restricted products to a minor, then you are responsible. Not the supermarket, just you. If a parent buys age restricted products for an underage child, the parent is held responsible. And if the products are purchased by an underage person, it is the underage person that is held responsible. That's basically why this system is used, I believe. It takes all liability away from the stores and the employees.

That being said, it's the responsibility of the stores and their employees to stop someone who is clearly underage before they even get to the checkout. At least, this is how it is in other countries, but I think Japan might be a little too afraid of confrontations to do this so proactively.

This system is a bit more complex than it needs to be. It takes the liability away from the store, but the responsibility should still remain. This system allows that responsibility to be ignored though. By ignoring that responsibility, the problem of underage drinking/smoking etc isn't solved. If anything, it makes it easier. The system relies too much on the would-be offenders being troubled by their conscience, and expects them to do what is morally right. Today's generation (for the most part it seems) couldn't tell you what morals are, so this system is highly flawed as a result.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Objectively speaking, it's not useless. It has a use - transferring responsibility for underage purchases to the person making them.

Then why only convienence stores? if it really had a function, they would install it everywhere.

As for if it's troublesome, that's a matter of personal opinion, but I have to wonder about any able-bodied individual who thinks it's troublesome to touch a screen once that's usually mere centimeters from where their hand probably is anyway.

Then why is that..

Most of the time if I don't automatically touch the screen myself, the staff at my conbinis just reach over and touch it for me.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Fox Sora Winters

very good post. Thank you for that

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Automation is inevitable, we cannot always rely on a human clerk. Most of convenience stores will be automated in the nearest future. I agree that the simple button is not perfect solution, then we should implement a more reliable way to determine a person's age. Face detection, fingerprint scanner, retina scanner - there are numerous ways to do it as effortlessly as possible.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The bits about having to push a damned button aside, the whole idea is simply STUPID & SOLVES/PREVENTS NOTHING!!

As usual Japan, where impressions are more important than reality.

The buttons do NOTHING about underage alcohol purchases & convenience stores(& others) NEED to be held more accountable for underage purchases/drinking. Where I am from this was easily achieved anywhere alcohol was around & this was over 40yrs ago.

Come on Japan surely you can do better, buttons at the combini....less than USELESS!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

*the purchase of a can of beer is usually accompanied by the clerk grunting and half-hardheartedly gesturing to the screen*

I buy a lot of alcohol in lots of different kinds of shops, and never, not once, have I had a shop assistant grunting and/or gesturing.

What usually happens is the person working the till picks up the bottle, glances at me (I'm assured I do look young for my age, but not that young), presses the button and rings up the sale. No problem, no aggro, no ire.

It’s really annoying

Only if you're the kind of person who is easily annoyed by anything and nothing.

The major chains have all stated their intentions to operate without cashiers in the very near future to save costs.

One of our local supermarkets has long hd a cashier-less section of the check-out, where customers can ring up their own purchases, get a discount and accummulate points if they pay using the shop's card (credit or pre-paid). There is always an assistant you can call over for help if you get stuck, and it's cheaper than using the normal manned checkout. What's not to like?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There is a supermarket chain around where I live where they have laminated cards with the question, and you have to point to the answer. I really don't get that.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I do not understand the main argument of elder people saying it decreases human interaction. HOW?

If there is no button, the cashier will not even ask their age. How does asking "could you push that button please?" decreases human interaction? I just don't get it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

One of our local supermarkets has long hd a cashier-less section of the check-out, where customers can ring up their own purchases, get a discount and accummulate points if they pay using the shop's card (credit or pre-paid). There is always an assistant you can call over for help if you get stuck, and it's cheaper than using the normal manned checkout. What's not to like?

I was at a supermarket in Australia recently with a self-checkout section. You can pay by cash or any credit card, and as in your example, there is someone there to provide assistance when necessary. I much preferred self-checkout, as I don't have someone I don't know looking over all my purchases.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Local Seiyu uses now now a mix of self checkout and Tellers, GU is either depending on store.

I don't mind touching the screen, yeah sometimes the clerk does it for me.

In my area around 15yrs ago 2 Combini were shutdown as underage clerks sold Alcohol and Tobbaco to High School Kids.

So far has anyone come up with a foolproof method to prevent under-20 to purchase Alcohol and Tobbaco.

As for Combini going without Clerks, wasn't that tried Years ago, I recall my current company cafeteria having no Staff.

But the big issue is where will all the students, housewives and pensioners find work?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I was at a supermarket in Australia recently with a self-checkout section. You can pay by cash or any credit card, and as in your example, there is someone there to provide assistance when necessary. I much preferred self-checkout, as I don't have someone I don't know looking over all my purchases.

Exactly. Self-checkout and scan-and-go systems have been around for 7-8, maybe 10 years in Oz cities and have revolutionised the way ppl shop. As for cashiers, they are now customer service agents which is imo (ok just slightly) more rewarding (and better on the CV).

Queuing time and the whole 'do you have a point-card" thing at J supermarkets drives me nuts I have to say.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I made an app that requires the convenience store clerk to click if they're old enough to sell me alcohol, cigarettes and nasty magazines.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Bunch of cranky old coots. Just touch the screen...it literally takes a second of your time.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

These touch screens are annoying but nowhere near as annoying as stores where I come from who demand that anyone buying alcohol bring identification and show it, regardless of age. I'm willing to state that I am over 20, and even press a button, if it means not having to bring ID to the convenience store.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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