There have been more safety concerns about Coles' new security gates after a wheelchair user had them "slam shut" on him while exiting with his paid items last week, with the customer admitting he will now have to avoid grocery shopping after the incident.
The customer told Yahoo News Australia he "popped in to grab a handful of items" after enjoying a day at the Canberra Centre with his family and had just watched his son exit through the gates before him when he went to leave himself.
"My son walked through the gates and they were wide open, I just rolled through and then they slammed shut, whacked into the side of me," David said.
The impact of the doors closing on him was "painful" and gave him a "fright". He confirmed he sustained no injuries or damage to his wheelchair.
Customer says Coles is removing 'human element' of stores
David left his contact details with staff — adding it was difficult to find a worker in store — and has since been in contact with the supermarket, but believes they "just don't know what to do" with him.
The incident not only jeopardised his safety but also cast uncertainty over the accessibility of an everyday activity for David, with the customer admitting he will most likely avoid going to the supermarket. He said this particular store has a security gate at every checkout. If necessary, David said his only other option would be to "flag someone down" for assistance.
"The supermarkets are removing the human element step by step... I just don't want to get squished," he said. "I want to know that these things are actually safe for disabled people to use, and right now I don't know that."
The security gates were introduced in September and have copped backlash from many shoppers questioning why they are being treated like "criminals" at the supermarket, however, Coles said the security measures are a crackdown on the rise of in-store theft.
Coles allegedly in talks with manufacturer over incident
The supermarket told Yahoo News it has commenced an investigation into the incident.
"We’re concerned to hear about this customer’s experience, and have spoken with the customer about this incident," a Coles spokesperson told Yahoo News. "We will continue to investigate further to ensure the technology is working as it should to not impact our customers."
"The technology has sensors and in-built detectors to ensure the gate re-open automatically to avoid closing on customers," the spokesperson said, however, no indication was given to why this wasn't the case with David.
Coles said the security gates used at their checkouts use "smart gate technology" which is tested to Australian standards, however the customer shared with Yahoo News that Coles told him they were "going to talk to the manufacturer of the gates".
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