Do You Really Want a Self-Service World?

Lady using a modern vending machineWatching Downton Abbey the other night made me yearn for the days when the wealthy relied on respected employees: a person to comb out your hair, help you dress, brush cat hair shoulders, polish your shoes. Not that I had ever experienced any of those things as a kid but it doesn’t mean I would not appreciate the benefits of such service; I mean, one less thing to think about, right? Especially in a day and age like the present when self service is increasingly ubiquitous.

I recall when gas stations switched to self service. Supposedly in exchange for a cheaper price on gasoline, you had the choice of getting out of your vehicle in the middle of a snowstorm, freezing your tush off opening the gas tank, inserting the gas nozzle, and huddling under the canopy to fill your car. You were the window washer and tire pressure attendant, too, which meant those things just never got done. Now, we pay premium gas prices and there is still no gas station attendant.

Don’t you miss the days of going to the train station window to buy a ticket? Nowadays, you can rent a car from a robot computer at the airport. You can buy almost any transportation ticket from a computerized machine: airline, bus, train, light rail. In fact, when I flew on Hawaiian Airlines January 1 to Molokai to after arriving in Honolulu from the Sydney Airport, I was told to check my own bag. Just go over to that machine and do it, the security guard pointed.

Wha? How am I to stuff my bag inside a machine? It didn’t make sense. I had never seen such a thing before. Rather than try to tackle it and mess up, which I surely would do, I had the good sense to tell the security guard that I don’t know how to do it. He grabbed an attendant and asked the attendant to do the self service for me. It involved inserting your ticket and punching buttons to receive a baggage tag, then attaching the tag to your luggage and transporting said luggage to the luggage conveyor belt yourself. For this self service Hawaiian Airlines charges $15.00, too.

The days of check-out clerks at many stores are almost gone. How many people actually speak to a bank teller anymore when the ATM is right there? I like talking to people, asking questions, gathering information and the personal attention is part of what makes the personal transaction a pleasure. When you eliminate people from the equation, what does that make all of us apart from a collection of zeros and ones? Completely removed from reality.

This is why real estate will always be a profession that needs real estate agents and a Sacramento REALTOR for guidance. If there is a market for self service, it is small. There are people who might view a home as no different than a loaf of bread on a grocery store shelf, yet the legal aspects of real estate are complicated, the negotiations require experience and people will never outgrow the need for a professional who knows more than they do.

A Sacramento REALTOR with experience is a value-added component of your real estate transaction.

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