Coles shopper calls out 'younger generation' for 'embarrassing' checkout response

Following her grocery trip, the pregnant woman urged parents to teach their kids one simple lesson.

Mahlea sitting in her car detailing the incident between a Coles employee and an elderly customer in a TikTok video.
Coles shopper Mahlea was stunned by the interaction between a teenage employee and an elderly customer who asked for help. Source: TikTok

A Coles shopper’s rant about a disheartening interaction between a teen employee and an elderly customer at a store’s self-serve checkout has sparked a heated debate about “the younger generation”. Mahlea said she witnessed the “embarrassing” incident during a recent trip to the supermarket to pick up some groceries and needed to get it off her chest as soon as she returned to her car.

In a TikTok video, the Aussie mum, who is pregnant with her second child, explained while she was scanning her items she overheard “an old man easily in his 80s” ask a Coles employee in the self-serve checkout area for help.

“He would have been like 15 years old, I think this kid was. This old man was like, ‘Oh, I need a bag. Could I please grab a bag?’ And the kid goes ‘Yeah, they’re over there’,” she said, mimicking the worker’s lacklustre response.

“Yeah, okay it’s not his job to go and get everyone a bag and bring it over to them, but you know, this man is 80 — or however old he is.”

After “shuffling over” to pick up a bag and returning to the kiosk where his items were, the elderly man then asks the teen “what do I do?”, Mahlea recalled. “And the kid walks up to him and goes, ‘You scan the barcode’ ... I wanted to be like, ‘HELP HIM’,” she vented.

Coles customer's 'common courtesy' plea

Mahlea said she froze in a state of shock while watching the “short interaction unfold” but helped the elderly customer “retrieve his walking stick afterwards”.

The mum pondered if the teen worker was “not getting paid enough”, but argued it is ultimately “just common courtesy to want to help an old person”.

“Can we promise each other as people — I’m pregnant [and] I have a four-year-old — as people with young children or if you’re going to have kids, let’s not raise them to be that way because it’s f***ing embarrassing.

“They have no emotional intelligence beyond, like, the internet... I don’t know. I don’t know what it is. I know it’s not all of them but if your kid is one of those ones, sort it out.”

Rant about 'younger generation' sparks debate

Mahlea’s swipe at the “younger generation” ignited a heated debate online, with the majority of people agreeing “customer service is non-existent these days”.

“Spot on! Just general manners and consideration all gone out the window,” one person wrote.

“I work at Coles and mind you I’m a lot older than some of the kids I work with, but damn the newer generation is just not okay, they don’t wanna work and are so lazy,” another claimed.

Instructions are displayed on the screen of a self checkout counter in a Coles supermarket.
While numerous Aussies agreed with the Coles shopper, others argued the teen worker had probably copped verbal abuse in the past. Source: Getty

However, numerous other viewers said the teen may not have been trained properly, or perhaps had simply endured too much “abuse from customers”. “Probably had 10 other ‘older people’ shout at him about how there should be more people at checkouts! My son gives [exceptional] customer service but has still been shouted at, pushed, and lectured!” one woman argued.

“l think we need to give 15-year-olds a break. l remember sucking at my first job, but l ended up running multiple businesses. We have to remember that the teenage brain is still not fully developed,” someone else pointed out.

Coles responds to woman's account

A Coles spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia its “team members are trained and encouraged to help our customers where possible”.

“Whether it be packing their bags effectively, offering to scan bulky items at the self-service checkout area for them, helping them to find an item in the store or even reaching a product that’s up high, it’s all about offering the best possible customer service experience for them so they come back time and time again.

“We are constantly evolving and carrying out various training approaches with current and new team members across the country to ensure a seamless and efficient shopping experience for our customers.”

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