Coles shoppers reignite claims over 'crazy' self-serve checkout rule 'monitored by head office'

It's another security protocol shoppers are being forced to adhere to when paying for groceries.

A wave of Coles customers have come forward with more claims they've been told by staff of a new self-checkout "policy," allegedly handed down from head office, in another attempt to mitigate theft across its stores.

Yahoo News Australia previously reported how some customers have been told there's a particular way they must scan items, with workers "demanding" bulkier items, such as drink cases, be scanned before other smaller, individual items with many shoppers questioning the reason why.

While shopping at the Waterloo store in Sydney recently, one shopper claimed they were even made to "void" the transaction and start over at the self-service checkouts to ensure the bulky items appeared first. They went on to say the retailer's control over how people shop is "completely out of hand".

Coles basket at self-serve checkout inside store.
Several shoppers claim they've been told they must scan bulky items, including drink cases, first. Source: Getty

Shoppers claim 'new checkout policy' is in place to mitigate theft

The supermarket previously told Yahoo News team members will "offer assistance" to shoppers when it comes to bulky items at the checkout which would help with "faster transactions," but wouldn't clarify if it was an effort to mitigate theft as claims suggest. They also wouldn't elaborate on whether or not it's being enforced.

However, several customers have contacted Yahoo with claims workers at multiple stores are confirming they're being made to watch customers. Mick, from Scarborough, in Western Australia, said he's "encountered such absurd behaviour in the self-serve checkout" recently when questioning why bulky items must be scanned first. Each time he claims a staff member said they've "been told" to make sure customers scan correctly.

"Yesterday I was again putting through a carton of soft drink this time I was informed that it was an anti-theft initiative, and that management monitored a printout every day to ensure staff were enforcing the directive," he told Yahoo.

"So we’ve been socially herded to use these facilities and are now being forced to abide by an order of processing our purchases. It's baffling. This is crazy".

'The highest rate of theft is on bulk drinks,' staff reportedly claim

Another customer Maddi, from Taylors Lakes, Victoria, said she's had similar experiences over the past two months.

"I have been told to stop scanning my groceries, my shop has been voided and I have been told I must scan my drinks first. It has been really irritating but I have just gone with it," she told Yahoo.

In her most recent shop, she claims a worker explained, "it was new Coles policy as the highest rate of theft is on bulk drinks".

"She went on to explain that head office is now analysing each receipt to ensure bulk drinks are scanned first with the stores not doing this penalised," she added.

Coles shoppers walking into Coles supermarket with flowers at entrance
Coles shoppers say they're being made by staff to always scan bulky items first. Source: Getty

Victorian man Peter Wiegard said, after taking it up with customer service, he was informed this "policy" was not a store policy, but "one being dictated from head office". After it happened again at another store he claims he was told that "staff hated having to enforce it" but are being made to with Peter slamming the poor level of customer services he received.

"I don't go to the supermarket to steal, I can afford to pay for my purchases," he said.

Coles address 'new policy' claims

Coles did not provide a statement to Yahoo News this week about these claims made by customers and said it stands by its initial statement. However, Yahoo understands stores are not being penalised for not enforcing the alleged rule as suggested.

It's also understood customers do not need to scan heavier items first if they don’t wish to, but it is, however, the recommended process.

Coles had said earlier the supermarket implements a whole host of anti-theft security measures in a bid to keep shoppers honest. "While most of our customers do the right thing, unfortunately, a small number don’t," a spokesperson told Yahoo.

The supermarket, along with its main competitor Woolworths, has implemented a range of controversial anti-theft initiatives, most notably smart gates, body cameras for staff and overhead cameras at the checkouts.

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