A Coles trial of making one of its supermarkets entirely self-service by removing all the conventional checkouts has outraged a rival local grocery chain in South Australia.
The trial at a Coles outlet in Northpark, Adelaide, has been slammed by John-Paul Drake, director of Drakes Supermarkets, who said its shops will not follow suit.
‘I don’t know why anyone would want to put a whole shopping load through a self-scanner. There’s no way I’d want to do that,’ he told 7NEWS.
‘We are definitely not even thinking about going 100 per cent self-scanners.’
Mr Drake, who has worked in the family business for more than three decades, said his chain wants to keep a personal connection between shoppers and staff.
A Coles trial making one of its supermarkets entirely self-service by removing all the conventional checkouts has outraged a rival local grocery chain in South Australia. A woman is pictured in a supermarket
He said what he calls the ‘front end team’ are the people who have the last point of contact with the customer and that communication is vital.
‘When you go and speak to a checkout, it really doesn’t do anything other than beep, beep, beep … does it?’
But a Coles spokeswoman said the supermarket giant made the change to help customers ‘check out more quickly’.
‘Self-service check-outs are a great option for customers because they offer convenience and efficiency when shopping in our stores,’ she told the Advertiser.
She added that nobody would lose their job over the change.
Shoppers given no choice but self-service at Northpark were less convinced about the lack of choice, though.
Dennis Galea, 76, from Clearview tried it out, but was not happy with the outcome.
‘It’s confusing and I don’t know how to do it … I don’t think I’ll come back.’
Woolworths, too, has been has recently come under fire for checkout technology that’s ‘treating every customer as a suspect’.
Its self-service system uses cameras and artificial intelligence (AI) to detect when items aren’t scanned correctly or have not been scanned at all.
If the technology catches a customer performing a ‘mis-scan’, such as scanning fruit as a cheaper type, a video shows the product and they are asked to rescan it.
‘While most customers do the right thing at our self-serve checkouts, we’re all busy and mistakes can easily happen,’ a Woolworths spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.
‘It helps reduce mis-scans and is one of a number of initiatives we’ve rolled out across our checkouts to make shopping more convenient and seamless.’
John-Paul Drake (pictured), director of Drakes Supermarkets in South Australia, has slammed Coles
But Samantha Floreani of the Digital Rights Watch group said the technology could make shoppers feel ‘like they are constantly being watched and recorded’.
She said the checkout changes are promoted as an improvement for customers, ‘But in reality, it is a punitive use of automation technology to cut costs on staffing for large corporations while treating every customer as a suspect.
‘This kind of normalisation of surveillance makes space for the growing use of invasive technologies in everyday life to access everyday essential services,’ said Ms Floreani.
The checkout changes were trialled at Woolworths in the Sydney suburb of Seven Hills a year ago and are now being used at more than 250 stores in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.
The technology uses AI and is not viewed live by humans.
The company said faces detected are blurred when the footage is reviewed by a person so customers cannot be identified, while PIN pads are also blacked out.
The recordings are also used as a training tool for Woolworths team members.
Mis-scans can include products being left in baskets or trolleys, or items not being purchased because they’re being held in the hand.
Woolworths – Australia’s biggest supermarket chain – is under fire for new checkout technology that is ‘treating every customer as a suspect’. Pictured is an example of what happens when a product is ‘mis-scanned’
One Woolworths customer in Sydney said this had happened to him twice already.
‘I was using the self-service checkout in my local Woolies and had some of the trolley cleaning wipes you get at the entrance in my hand.
‘Suddenly on the screen, a message flashed up asking if I’d forgotten to pay for something. I had to get a staff member to press some buttons to allow me to continue,’ he said.
‘It happened a second time when I had a bag from another shop in my trolley and the screen again asked me if I’d forgotten to pay for something. It’s very embarrassing.’
Coles has been approached for comment.