Woolworths customers threaten to boycott local stores over new surveillance systems
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 at cash registers to “reduce miscans” and crack down on “fake swipes.”
The overhead cameras detect when items have not been scanned correctly and prevent customers from entering cheaper products when weighing their products.
However, customers have expressed concerns about being registered by the technology, while others say the system makes them feel like ‘thieves’.
“Want to treat me like a thief and then scan my shit,” one wrote on Reddit, while another said they boycotted their local store because of the new cameras.
Frustrated shoppers have threatened to boycott Woolworths stores over plans to introduce new controversial artificial intelligence technology (photo, Woolworths shopper)
“I just walked out of Woolies and left my stuff there because I couldn’t pay at the self-service checkout,” said another fed up shopper.
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 fruits and vegetables, an attendant has to come by and approve it,” they said.
‘Usually also has to wait ages because the attendant is busy helping like 10 other people.’
Others urged their fellow shoppers to instruct the supermarket not to consent to the filming.
Woolworths said the trial of new camera technology was to see if it could help reduce the number of miss scans and improve speed for customers at checkout.”
Woolworths is making major changes to all its tills to ‘reduce miscans’ that will also catch Australian shoppers trying to shop without paying
Woolworths deploys surveillance cameras at self-service and operator-assisted checkouts to reduce fake swiping incidents
“If a misscan occurs, the affected product will be highlighted in a short video and customers will be given the option to rescan it,” it said.
“While most customers do the right thing at our cashier checkouts, we’re all busy and mistakes can be made quickly.”
Woolworths said the technology is being used internationally and “should make the self-service scanning process more accurate.” It is currently being used in shops in Hornsby, Neutral Bay, Chullora and Carnes Hill after being trialled in Seven Hills.
However, most shoppers and retail observers expect that the supermarket’s real motivation is to catch more theft at self-service checkouts.
Shoppers fake swiping at cash registers costs Australian stores up to $9 billion a year, the Australian Retailers Association claimed.
Retail analysts have claimed that 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 where the customer is, then halts the checkout process and lights up a red light above it.
The technology stops the checkout process to replay a video on the checkout screen for you if it feels like an item is put in a bag without being scanned
On social media, Australians reacted to in-store signs warning customers they could be filmed with a mixture of anger and concern
Then a video of the problem will replay on the checkout screen for you.
The footage, which blurs faces and the payment keyboard, is kept by Woolworths in case the police ask for it later.
The system covers all checkout lines in stores testing the new cameras, including those with operators scanning your groceries.
That means the cameras can pick up customers who “forget” to pay for bulk or heavy items in their carts — like 24 packs of drinks or a tray of canned dog food.
As soon as a shopper accidentally or intentionally pushes their cart past the scanner or checkout operator, if it contains products, the red light above it goes out and the operator shows a video of the problem.
The trial will be extended to hundreds of stores in NSW, Victoria and Queensland, with other states and territories to follow.
Woolworths has 1,086 stores across Australia.
As soon as a shopper accidentally or intentionally pushes their cart past the scanner or the checkout operator, if it contains products, the red light above it goes out and the operator shows a video of the problem
“Ultimately you don’t have to worry about anything if you do the right thing,” a retail source told Daily Mail Australia.
Woolworths said it would “listen closely to feedback from both customers and teams on the trial over the coming months.”
But no matter what opposition shoppers have to the cameras, the supermarket leader is unlikely to back down from the new anti-theft camera.
But the technology is legal in Australia, so the store source said refusal to agree would only lead to the advice to shop elsewhere.
“Every time you go somewhere you pass CCTV, so it’s hardly new,” said one.