May I Take Your Order For Less Than I’m Worth If You Can Find Me?

Last Updated on: 6th March 2023, 10:22 am

Meet Freshii’s new ‘virtual cashier’ — who works from Nicaragua for $3.75 an hour
A couple of things here.

  1. I’ve never been to a Freshii. To tell you the truth, I’m not entirely sure what they sell or even how to pronounce the name of the place. Is it freshy? Fresh-eeeee? Fresh-eye? Fresh-2? But whatever. I may not even have to bother worrying about it, since it’s not like I’m going to be able to eat there anyway what with them going the unusable by design route.

    Many Freshii customers have already encountered “Percy.”
    The video-calling device is attached to cash registers at a select few Freshii locations across Ontario, and it lights up when customers approach the counter.

    Yet another place bereft of humans capable of pointing me in the right direction (like, say, towards the counter,) should I need it. Good times. Thanks for thinking of me, whatever your name is.

  2. On the other end of the screen is a cashier wearing a headset, ready to take orders. Unlike the Freshii workers that wrap burritos and mop floors, these “virtual” workers are nowhere near the store. Instead, at least some of them process orders from a Nicaraguan call centre nearly 6,000 km away, where they earn much less than Ontario’s minimum wage.
    The program is only in the early stages of testing, but Freshii’s virtual cashiers are part of a wave of outsourcing and automated technology that is slowly changing Canada’s retail industry.

    So how are we doing on that universal basic income? Might want to start thinking about it again, guys. If this is the future, we’re going to have to find a way to pay for everyone priced out of the job market to exist, and that’s likely going to be the best way forward.

    If I might make a suggestion, how about an automation and outsourcing tax? We haven’t traditionally been in the business of forcing corporations to solve the problems they create in any meaningful way, but it’s never too late to start. I’m not against innovation, but if you’re going to be ruining lives and perhaps entire industries with it purely in the name of cost savings that are going to end up lining your own pockets, the absolute least you can do is put a good chunk of those cost savings into making sure that the streets you’re throwing people out into are nice ones.

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