Yes, another whinge from me about the self checkouts at the supermarkets. I know it’s a subject I’ve banged on about before, but my hackles rose the other day when I saw a sign over the Woolworths self checkout thing that said, ‘this check-out is under video surveillance’.
I was going to use it, but just swore and stormed off towards a ‘manned’ checkout instead. No, I was not going to cheat, I was just incensed!
So, the supermarkets have saved so much money by not employing staff that they are able to afford multiple computerised self checkouts and now have set up video surveillance cameras at each one!
Imagine how much money they must be making to afford all this technology.
I started researching the topic to check any claims that the money saved justified this expenditure and discovered that not only is it obviously affordable, but they (the supermarkets) manage to (at the same time) absorb the comparative small losses they incur when customers are less than honest. But, as the latest sign attests, that will not be accepted for long.
And, what happens when someone does try to cheat – or even unwittingly messes up the scanning outcome?
I was once ‘swooped upon’ by a ‘helper’ at the self serve thing when I inadvertently dropped a second packet of chewing gum in my bag before it had scanned. (It was only the second time I had used the damn things). I was buying gum for the grandsons and scanned and popped in one packet, then (thought I had) scanned the second one and dropped it into the bag. Something stopped the computer thing from continuing and I had no idea what was wrong, when up swooped the store ‘helper’ who grabbed stuff from my bag and victoriously held up the un-scanned gum. She then scanned and bagged my other items, talking me through it as if I were an imbecile – and a corrupt one as well!
Yesterday I found online articles quoting:
Australia's big supermarket chains say they are ''closely monitoring'' customers as they scan and bag their own groceries after a British study found that hundreds of millions of pounds were being lost at self-service tills.
Oh, how sad!
A Woolworths spokeswoman said, "While we trust that most of our customers do the right thing, we do have a number of loss prevention methods in place at every Woolworths supermarket including surveillance cameras, plain-clothed security officers, security gates and staff monitoring all check-out areas," she said.
Note the mention of ‘prevention methods’, ‘security officers’ and ‘monitoring’. (All customers treated as possible ‘crooks’)
Again, how sad for these poor supermarket giants that they have to resort to such tactics!
I found a few people who had decided to fight back (so to speak) and no, I’m not sure if I consider it REALLY stealing. I think that most supermarkets already ‘steal’ enough from us.
Here are a few comments and admissions I liked:
I mistake prawns from the deli for carrots.
Everything is broccoli!
Unwashed potatoes! Unwashed potatoes for everything.
I don't think stealing some garlic or telling the machine it’s a potato when you are buying a mango is going to change anything.
In my defense, I don't ever remember signing the employment contract with Coles.
I'd rather see a pimple faced youth employed than see a row of these bastard machines any day.
From NSW regional newspaper::
Study spokesman revealed:
“I understand in 12 months an estimated $2 billion to $4 billion walks out of stores across Australia (without payment),”
A spokesman for Woolworths said: “The vast majority of customers do the right thing. Our message to the small minority of would-be shoplifters is simple – don’t do it. We’re closely monitoring these checkouts, we adapt our systems to new shoplifting methods and we will catch you if you do the wrong thing.” (My emphasis).
BUT, some good news:
Marketing manager for the Cavallaro IGA group, Andy Pecora, said Carlo’s IGA in Tamworth did not use self-service checkouts because it was a small retailer. “Our focus is on making sure that we have the right services in place in our stores – a big part is giving back to our community,” Mr Pecora said.
“Self-service checkouts take away the ability to do that, when we could be employing someone to do the job.” (Good on you, IGA)
As for the BIG supermarkets, as someone said:
They've gotta be saving more in labour than they're losing in shrinkage or they wouldn't be doing this.
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.