Coles apologises after shopper cops 'out of hand' checkout demand from staff

The supermarket giant has been accused of over-policing how people scan their groceries at self-serve checkouts.

Coles has apologised to a shopper after they were apparently told there was a new specific way products must be bagged at self-serve checkouts, with the customer branding the retailer's control over how people shop "completely out of hand".

The shopper's experience isn't the first time somebody's claimed that Coles has monitored the way in which they scan their products, with Yahoo News earlier reporting on the topic earlier in 2024. This time around, the customer's experience has reignited the conversation once again, with theories flowing over why people are seemingly being made to bag their groceries in a certain way.

A Coles self-serve checkout amid claims there's new bagging protocols in place.
A Coles customer has claimed they were intercepted by a staff member mid-bagging and told they must scan their bulky items first. Source: Getty

Shopper claims monitoring of self-serve checkouts 'out of hand'

"Went through Coles Waterloo (in Sydney) for the thousandth time with a basket of groceries and two 24-packs of Pepsi Max," the customer began. "This isn't an unusual shop for me — the soft drink was on special and the girlfriend is a Pepsi Max fiend.

"I started scanning the way I always do: Bag the loose groceries first, since the Coles self-serve checkouts tend to chuck a fit if you add your own BYO bag midway through a purchase. I'm a few items in when the assistant swoops in and informs me that I'm self-serving the wrong way."

The said they were then told by the employee "the drinks needed to be scanned first" — then the staffer "proceeded to swipe her card and void the groceries I had already scanned myself".

An Aussie Coles shopper on TikTok.
Earlier this year an Aussie woman made a similar claim, taking to social media to explain how she was told by Coles staff to bag her bulky items first. Source: TikTok

"Then [they] said I needed to enter the two Pepsi Max cartons," the customer continued.

"'Fine,' I thought and picked up the first carton to put over the scanner. 'No,' she says and forces my hand down, 'let me enter them for you'. She then proceeded to painstakingly enter my drinks, one by one, through the manual menu."

The customer said that on the way out they "asked the supervisor if that was standard policy". "Apparently yes, it was. 'You must scan the big items first,' she said. 'That's the way Coles says you have to do it now'," they said.

"Forcing us to use self-serve checkouts by taking staff off the regular checkout was one thing. Installing those ridiculous automatic exit gates was another. But now we can't even scan our own groceries in the order we want at the self-serve checkout?! This has gotten completely out of hand."

A Coles self-serve checkout with anti-theft gates amid claims there's new bagging protocols in place.
Coles has unveiled a raft of anti-theft measures in recent times, including these gates. Source: Reddit

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, a Coles spokesperson said staff are encouraged to help shoppers process and scan bulky items first.

With regard to the claim about the employee at the Waterloo store, the spokesperson said staff should not be voiding what has been put through by a customer, if they’ve already started. The spokesperson issued an apology to the customer for the experience. They did not address the claim that a new system was in place requiring bulky items be scanned first.

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