Has supermarket security gone too far?

Woolworths self checkout

Self-checkouts are here to stay, but has one supermarket chain taken customer responsibility too far?

A customer’s online rant about self-checkouts and the security around them has gone viral.

Apparently some Woolworths stores are asking shoppers who have used self-checkouts to show their receipts as they leave, and it did not sit well with one customer.

“I didn’t choose to participate in that nonsense, so I just skipped the exit line and left,” the customer said.

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“I heard her saying, ‘Ma’am’ as I kept walking and raised the receipt above my head, leaving the store. 

“You can either trust me to do self-checkout, or you can put your cashiers back in place like it used to be. 

“I’m not interested in proving that I did your job for you. You want me to be a cashier with no training then that’s your problem not mine. Don’t audit me for a position you refuse to employ any longer.”

The post attracted an astonishing 7400 comments, and the replies were a mixed bag.

While some fully supported the original poster – and singled out Kmart for similar policies – others were wondering what the fuss was about.

Self-checkouts do allow supermarkets to employ fewer people, resulting in big savings that may – or may not – be passed on to us. And who truly enjoys working on a checkout? 

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It’s tedious work and customers are often rude. This issue made headlines during the early days of COVID, but ask anyone who has worked long-term in intense retail situations such as supermarkets and department stores – nasty customers have always been an issue.

And the surveillance of self-checkouts is extreme. There are cameras both on the checkout and above at our local store and a screen on the checkout showing what they are filming. Is all this tech really saving the wages of a few entry level jobs?

What we can all agree on is not to take it out on the staff. If you have a beef with a supermarket, take it up with the head office.

Better yet, put your complaint on their social media. As the viral nature of the ‘receipts issue’ shows, the public airing of a complaint will get a lot more attention than a polite letter.

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Coles

Sensible: Milo 700g, $9, save $2.50. It’s un-Australian of you to think Milo is anything other than sensible. With this size tin, the Milo gets a bit chunky if it’s not used up at a pretty fast clip, which is all the excuse you need to keep using it.

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Aldi

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See the catalogues here.

Read: How to save money on washing

IGA

Sensible: Energizer Max AA 16-pack or AAA 14-pack batteries, half price at $11.75. I don’t care what you say, finding a pack of these in a drawer when the remote goes pfft is one of the world’s best stress busters. And with Christmas coming up, you can laugh at that ‘batteries not included’ warning.

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See the catalogue here.

Woolworths

Sensible: Chicken drumsticks, $4/kg, save $1. It’s cheap at full price. Drumsticks are your versatile cut – good on the grill, as a roast, in a casserole or one-pot meal. They also freeze well.

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See the catalogue here.

Recall: A’Kin Mild and Gentle Shampoo, batch number AW2D01. The affected product may be contaminated by bacteria. Return to the store for full refund. Also sold at David Jones, Priceline, Chemist Warehouse and independent pharmacies.

Do you like using the self-checkouts? Would you be happy to show your receipt at the door? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

Written by Jan Fisher

Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.

4 Comments

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    • Yes Jeff, they are like Arnott’s shapes, always on sale. I probably should have clarified that I only learnt why they call them Tim Tams two weeks ago!

  1. I am a checkout chick, last 20 years, I absolutely love my job, love chatting to customers every time. If you saw what happens by thieves, you would not be surprised at security.

    • I totally agree Lyndyloo. I know of one supermarket manager currently on leave after he was violently assaulted when he confronted a shoplifter. However, I’d also think supermarkets can’t have it both ways, they want us to use self checkouts but at the same time make it hard to do so.
      Good for you for working on a register for 20 years, it’s hard work being on your feet all day, I hope your employers appreciate you.

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