Woolworths customers threaten to boycott local stores over new surveillance systems

Aussies vow to boycott Woolworths after the supermarket installs controversial new surveillance systems

  • Woolworths installing surveillance cameras to reduce ‘misscans’ at checkouts
  • The cameras make it much harder for shoppers to bag items without scanning
  • Customers have threatened to boycott stores over the new camera technology 
  • Fake swiping – bagging without paying – cost Australian retailers up to $9 billion 
  • New systems will also catch out people who don’t scan bulk items in trolleys  

Frustrated shoppers have threatened to boycott Woolworths stores over the supermarket’s plans to introduce new artificial intelligence technology. 

The chain announced it would install powerful new surveillance systems in checkout areas to ‘reduce misscans’ and crackdown on ‘fake swipes’. 

The overhead cameras detect when items haven’t been scanned correctly and prevent shoppers from entering cheaper products when weighing their produce. 

However, customers have raised concerns over being recorded by the technology while others have said the system makes them feel like ‘thieves’.   

‘You wanna treat me like a f***ing thief then YOU scan my s***,’ one wrote on Reddit, while another said they had boycotted their local store over the new cameras.   

Frustrated shoppers have threatened to boycott Woolworths stores over plans to introduce new controversial artificial intelligence technology (pictured, Woolworths shopper)

Frustrated shoppers have threatened to boycott Woolworths stores over plans to introduce new controversial artificial intelligence technology (pictured, Woolworths shopper)

‘I have legit just walked out of Woolies and left my stuff there because the self-service checkout wouldn’t let me pay,’ another fed-up shopper said. 

Another shopper said the ‘incredibly annoying’ system recommends the wrong products or a more expensive one if a misscan is detected. 

‘If I choose something other than what’s on the suggested list of weight fruit and veg, an attendant has to come over to approve it,’ they said. 

‘Usually have to wait ages as well because the attendant will be busy helping like 10 other people.’

Others urged their fellow shoppers to instruct the supermarket that they don’t consent to being filmed. 

Woolworths said the new camera technology trial was to see if it could help reduce misscans and improve speed for customers through the checkout’.

Woolworths is rolling out big changes to all its checkouts to 'reduce misscans' that will also catch out Australian shoppers who try to bag groceries without paying

Woolworths is rolling out big changes to all its checkouts to ‘reduce misscans’ that will also catch out Australian shoppers who try to bag groceries without paying

Woolworths is rolling out surveillance cameras at self-serve and operator-assisted checkouts (pictured, the camera system is located on the arm above the checkouts)

If the camera system detects an item hasn't been scanned it sets off a red light above the checkout

Woolworths is rolling out surveillance cameras at self-serve and operator-assisted checkouts to reduce incidents of fake swiping 

‘If a misscan occurs, a short video highlights the affected product and customers then have the opportunity to re-scan it,’ it said.

‘While most customers do the right thing at our self-serve checkouts, we’re all busy and mistakes can easily happen.’

Woolworths said the technology is used internationally and ‘should make the self-serve scanning process more accurate’. It is currently in use at stores in Hornsby, Neutral Bay, Chullora and Carnes Hill after being trialled in Seven Hills. 

However, most shoppers and retail observers expect the supermarket’s real motivation is to catch more stealing at self-service checkouts. 

Fake swiping by shoppers at self-serve checkouts costs Australian shops up to $9 billion a year, the Australian Retailers Association claimed.

Retail analysts claimed Australian shoppers don’t feel bad about fake swiping – also known as ‘micro thefts’ – because it’s seen as stealing from a ‘robot’.

Woolworths’ new camera technology detects when something has bypassed your scanner by filming the area the customer is standing in, then stops the checkout process and sets off a red light above.

The technology halts the checkout process to replay a video on the checkout screen in front of you if it senses an item being put into a bag without being scanned

The technology halts the checkout process to replay a video on the checkout screen in front of you if it senses an item being put into a bag without being scanned

On social media Australians reacted to in-store signs warning customers they could be filmed with a mix of anger and concern

On social media Australians reacted to in-store signs warning customers they could be filmed with a mix of anger and concern

It then replays a video of the issue on the checkout screen in front of you.

The footage, which blurs faces and the payment keypad, is kept by Woolworths in case police ask to see it later. 

The system covers all checkout lanes in stores trialling the new cameras, including those with operators scanning your groceries.

That means the cameras can pick up customers ‘forgetting’ to pay for bulk or heavy items in their trolleys – like 24 packs of drinks or a tray of dog food cans.

As soon as a shopper accidently or deliberately pushes their trolley past the scanner or the checkout operator, if it contains contains any products, the red light above will go off and show the operator a video of the problem.

The trial will be expanded to hundreds of stores across NSW, Victoria, and Queensland with other states and territories to follow.

Woolworths has 1,086 stores across Australia.

As soon as a shopper accidently or deliberately pushes their trolley past the scanner or the checkout operator, if it contains contains any products, the red light above will go off and show the operator a video of the problem

As soon as a shopper accidently or deliberately pushes their trolley past the scanner or the checkout operator, if it contains contains any products, the red light above will go off and show the operator a video of the problem

‘At the end of the day you’ve got nothing to worry about if you do the right thing,’ a retail source told Daily Mail Australia. 

Woolworths said it would ‘listen closely to both customer and team feedback on the trial over the coming months’.

But no matter what opposition shoppers have to the cameras it’s unlikely the supermarket leader would step back from the new anti-theft camera.

But the technology is legal in Australia, so the retail source said refusing to agree would only lead to being told to shop somewhere else.

‘Anytime you go just about anywhere you walk past CCTV so it’s hardly new,’ one said.

Source

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