Companies are always looking for ways to lower their costs and maximise profits. And the epitome of this endeavour is making their customers work for free – and somehow convince them that it’s a ‘feature’ or even a benefit.
Here are 5 ways companies are making all of us do their work for them – and not paying us for our time and efforts.
#1 Self-Checkout Machines
Those who have worked at a supermarket would know that bagging groceries is part science, part art.
There are rules that must be followed, such as not mixing foodstuffs with chemicals like detergents, and knowing how to mix light but bulky items with small but heavy ones so that no single bag is disproportionately heavy.
The art comes from knowing how to pack and bag the groceries, so you use the absolute minimum number of plastic bags or canvas shopping bags.
Unfortunately, self-service machines introduced at supermarkets have delegated this task to you, the customer. With self-service machines, you’re responsible for searching for and scanning barcodes, bagging your groceries, and making payment yourself.
And unlike a professional cashier, you’re not being paid for doing it.
#2 Korean Barbeque (BBQ)
When you visit a restaurant or food & beverage outlet, you want to eat. After all, if what you wanted was to purchase raw food, you’ll go to a supermarket.
Korean BBQ joints, and perhaps steamboat restaurants before them, have somehow made you feel that queuing up to pick your own raw food and then cook it and add your own sauces before eating is somehow a fun perk.
No doubt, it isn’t the hardest thing in the world to cook food over a grill, but wouldn’t you get more of your money’s worth and have a better experience if you could eat while chatting with your loved ones without having to pause intermittently to retrieve ingredients and cook your food?
And unlike the chef, you don’t get paid and issued with a uniform, so you leave the place with your clothes smelling like the place that you just did free labour for.
#3 Ikea Self-Assembled Furniture
If you started work at a new office, how would you feel if the first thing you’re asked to do is to assemble your own chair, table, drawer, and perhaps some pantry furniture? Even if you’re asked to do this during office hours, you’ll probably feel that furniture assembly isn’t in your job description, and it should be the job of the furniture vendor.
So why does this responsibility gets suddenly shifted to the customer when it comes to everyone’s beloved Ikea?
As a customer, you shouldn’t have to play “adult Lego” before you can enjoy the chair or table you paid for, unless you somehow miss Design & Technology lessons back in secondary school.
#4 Self-Study Basic Theory Test For Driving
Undoubtedly, self-directed learning is an important life skill – increasingly so in today’s fast paced world.
However, there are times when you would prefer to have a teacher from whom you can learn from, ask questions, and have some guidance on your learning journey.
Unfortunately, some institutions have implemented self-study programmes in the name of convenience (“Study at your own pace, at your own time!”), without giving students the option to have in-person classroom sessions.
Studying for Basic Theory Tests on the route to getting a driving license is one such instance. Candidates are expected to learnmemorise traffic rules and recallregurgitate them during the test, without having the chance to clarify any doubts they have and challenge the logic of certain rules – both of which are important aspects of critical thinking that the Ministry of Education is working so hard to instil in young Singaporeans.
The best part? If students fail the test and want to blame their teacher, they can only blame themselves.
#5 Community Question-And-Answer Websites
Websites like Quora and TripAdvisor have built their businesses on user-generated content. Somehow, they have created the platform for users to contribute their precious time and share valuable information, without paying users a single cent.
People are willing to answer questions because of a range of reasons: some have a strong inherent wish to help others; others enjoy the kudos and applause when they write something smart; and others are incentivised by the gamification features (like points and awards).
Whatever the motivations, the community members’ efforts contribute directly to making the companies that run these platforms more valuable and increase their revenue-making potential – for free.
Want To Get Paid For The Work That You Do?
If you are Singaporean looking for a job but have been unable to find one, Workforce Singapore can help connect you a to a job you are looking for.
Some of the resources they can connect you to are job opportunities, career coaching sessions, feedback on your resume or interview skills, and even advise you on courses you can take to improve your employability.
To get started, you can make an appointment with Workforce Singapore. You will receive a call for arranging to meet up, and get linked to the right companies and schemes that are appropriate for you.