Coles confirms it uses cameras at self-service checkouts

Brooke Rolfe
·News Reporter
·3-min read

Coles has confirmed it is trialling “new security technology” at self service checkouts nationally in a bold effort to clamp down on customers giving themselves an illegal “five finger discount”.

Responding to a customer on Wednesday, a Coles employee revealed that much like its competitor Woolworths, cameras replay live footage back to customers as they process their own transactions.

Coles claimed the cameras, connected to the monitors at each self service checkout, acted as “a deterrent for customers attempting to steal items”.

The supermarket maintained that it “has complied with all relevant laws relating to signage” pertaining to the installation of its new security technology trial.

Coles confirmed it uses cameras at its self service checkouts to clamp down on theft. Source: Getty Images
Coles confirmed it uses cameras at its self service checkouts to clamp down on theft. Source: Getty Images

A spokesperson claimed there were large posters and signs at the front of all Coles outlets which were visible to shoppers as they entered.

Despite it clarifying the self service cameras weren’t recording, the employee made mention of the retailer’s privacy policy, which stated it was within its right to collect data from customers.

“Coles’ Privacy Policy is available on the Coles website. It advises that Coles may collect Personal Information (including visual images) to support our business functions, including investigative, fraud, and loss prevention activities,” they wrote.

New theory ignites speculation over Woolworths cameras

Suspicions resurfaced this week from customers skeptical that Woolworths was being dishonest about its assertion that it did not use facial recognition technology with its checkout cameras.

The supermarket rolled out its trial in April last year, but fresh alarm bells were set off this week after shoppers received an email from Woolworths informing shoppers of its updated privacy policy.

A customer speculated on Twitter the update meant the retailer was now using the camera to “record, store, identify and track their customers using facial recognition software”.

Such suggestions were first made in October last year by one shopper who noticed small promotional pieces of cardboard covering the part of the screen where the reflection of customers was displayed.

Cameras at Coles self service checkouts replay live footage back to customers. Source: Getty Images
Cameras at Coles self service checkouts replay live footage back to customers. Source: Getty Images

Woolworths insisted in response to this week’s tweet that footage was not recorded or stored, and strongly denied suggestions it used facial recognition technology.

“The image at checkouts is just a reflection on the screen and is not recorded. That hasn’t changed. Like most retailers, we do have CCTV in our stores, which is why we make reference to cameras in the updated privacy policy… We can also confirm that we do not use facial recognition of any type,” a Woolworths spokesperson said.

“This is a reflection of yourself, shown only on the screen in front of you. If you do not wish to be a part of the trial, you are welcome to use the staffed checkouts.”

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