SHOPPERS were left horrified after an aggressive new security measure at self-service checkouts left innocent customers “locked in”.
New technology has been introduced at Coles Supermarket to help stop thefts after a 20 per cent increase in Australia alone this year.
Anti-theft devices include smart gates, cameras, locks on shopping carts, and even fog machines.
But shoppers feel trapped in the store and voice their opinions.
A customer said on TikTok that she was “horrified” after seeing the smart gates in her store for the first time.
“Now you’re tied to Coles. I couldn’t leave the self checkout after I finished my shopping until they looked at my receipt and pressed a button for the new glass gates they had installed,” he said @FeeFeeGirl8.
As she walked through the gates, the woman said she noticed the same glass gates were used at the traditional checkout areas.
“So it’s not enough that they gouge the prices and rip us off, they’re now locking you up in Coles and you can’t get out,” she said.
“I asked the lady, ‘What’s going on here? Are we locked here now?’ and she says, ‘Oh no, no, no,’ and I say, ‘Well, it doesn’t seem to open when someone walks up to it.'”
After checking luggage, a button had to be pressed for the gate to open, the woman said.
“I wasn’t mad at them, I feel sorry for those workers.” [working for] like a vile society,” said the woman.
“I’m just appalled that they’re now locking people up so they can check their luggage and stop them from leaving the store.”
Another TikToker, Jarrod (@JarrodsWorld) also shared his own thoughts after watching the original customer’s video.
“Let me be clear: First, you are cutting jobs and trying to save money by introducing self-checkouts,” he said in a video this has now gone viral.
“And now, because we do the work ourselves and save you money, we are treated as if we were guilty until proven innocent and locked up until our luggage is checked. What if you find yourself in an emergency?”
“We don’t work for you, and if you want us to serve ourselves, you must bear the burden of that. You can’t let us serve ourselves just to get checked at the damn gate.”
Jarrod’s video has received almost 400,000 views and almost 30,000 likes.
He believes that the new technology will only affect the “innocent” buyers who do not appreciate being treated like “criminals”.
“All I see is a disaster,” Jarrod said.
“In essence, you could say they are taking their catchphrase “lockdown” quite literally. Not only are your prices “going down, going down, prices are going down,” but your customers are also locked out.”
The new technology helps keep track of customers as soon as they enter the store, recording the time it takes them to shop through each aisle until they get to the checkout.
Additionally, there are new surveillance cameras above the checkout machine to keep track of all items that are scanned and placed in bags.
If a theft is believed to have occurred, the smart gates close and sound an alarm to keep the customer in the store.
There are also new high-tech shopping carts that will become blocked the moment a customer leaves the store if the gates somehow malfunction.
“We know that retail crime is on the rise across all retailers and we have a range of security measures in place to reduce theft in our stores, including CCTV, electronic item surveillance (EAS) and, in some stores, new smart gate technology automatically when customers pay for their products,” Coles said in a statement.
The company’s chief operations officer, Matt Swindells, called the new technology “world-class” in identifying would-be thieves.
“We took the best from overseas and then enhanced it with a few more tweaks, so we feel confident that we have best-in-class loss prevention technology in our stores,” he said.
“If you are a thief, we will catch you.”
He also added that the technology will help stop violent attacks on employees, which have increased over the past year.
Employees are also permitted to wear special hazard watches that alert other employees to a possible incident.
Body cameras may also be available so members can record their interactions like police officers.
“If you begin to threaten an employee, we will document it and take necessary action,” Swindells said.