The most useless appliance in the store (so far)

I went in to work one day and found this thing taking up space on the side counter:

Tellermate T-ix

That’s the Tellermate T-ix, which I believe is pronounced T-minus-i-to-the-X-power. It’s a currency scale, and we need one here because of the infinite number of times the cashiers have had more money in the drawer at shift change than they could easily count by hand.

(Searching “is zero an infinite number” leads to interesting discussions about math concepts, if you’re willing to use some of your spare time on that sort of thing.)

Its appearance led me to ask the store manager, “Did you order it?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“No one here ordered it?”

“No one here ordered it.”

“So someone higher up decided every store should have one of these?”


Later that day, the store manager repented of her sin of doubt (or, more likely, got instructions from our gadget-obsessed upper management to promote the new gadget) and put out this memo:

I’m not sure if any of you have tried the new money counter but the best way to get used to it is to use it. It is slow at first but it is meant to make it easier on us so try it out. Complain later after you have tried it and still don’t like it!!! Some of us don’t like change but sometimes change is good.

It then took two days for anyone to bother plugging the thing in. On one level, it’s understandable – the wiring under the counter is a cross between Rube Goldberg’s work and H.R. Giger’s – but still.

I was eventually able to try it, and guess what, I still don’t like it.

  • The controls are awkward and obtuse.
  • Because the controls are so awkward and obtuse, it’s actually faster to count by hand, at least in the amounts we have at shift change.
  • The scale’s programming assumes you count the drawer in a specific order, so we’re either supposed to conform our shift-change routine to the manufacturer’s assumptions or spend even more time wrestling with the awkward and obtuse controls as we scroll slowly through the interface.
  • (I didn’t like the controls, in case you couldn’t tell.)
  • The way we’re meant to count loose change is in specially branded “Tellercups,” which sit in the drawer the rest of the time, so you can just lift a cup out, put it on the scale for a second (plus however long you have to spend wrestling with the awkward and obtuse controls), put it back, and move on to the next denomination. This means that every time we make change throughout the day, bits of the drawer move slightly, interfering with the speed, dexterity, and accuracy of our change handling. Even if the scale did make shift changes faster, it wouldn’t make up for this.
  • Among its other time-saving features, the scale doesn’t allow for weighing of more than one coin roll at a time, because it only tares for the weight of one average coin roll. You’d think that could be handled by clever programming (“that penny roll probably doesn’t have 101 pennies in it, it’s probably two rolls and 100 pennies”), but “clever programming” isn’t a thing our appliance providers are good at.
  • I, for one, don’t trust its calibration, especially with weights that small. If the weight of an extra paper coin roll can throw it off, how about the weight of a coin roll with the ends taped shut? How about dirty coins? Dirty bills? Damp bills? Worn old bills vs. crisp new ones? And considering the multiple warnings about putting any weight on the scale when not in use vs. its place on the ocunter where things will constantly be put on it, and the general unreliability of every other appliance on the premises (at time of writing we have one miscalibrated oven control and two other appliances down)… I’m in no hurry to use this thing for cash counts that I might be held accountable for.

“Some of us don’t like change” when the changes are bullshit.

Thankfully, use of the T-minus-i-to-the-X-power is (so far) optional, and both register drawers have had their Tellercups pulled out and put aside by my equally annoyed coworkers.

The T-minus-i-to-the-X-power has a website, with various marketing claims.


P.S. Tellercups are copyrighted.

They’re plain plastic cups shaped to fit inside a cash drawer, and they’re copyrighted.

I’m not sure yet how Tellermate intends to discourage end users from using non-Tellermate cups to hold coins. There are a couple of different technical means I can think of, and they both suck.


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