'Infuriating': Customers rage against Coles' new bagging policy

A number of Coles shoppers are angry they have to pack their bags during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coles announced last month customers would have to pack their own bags to “minimise handling and close contact time”.

It was a number of steps the supermarket introduced amid the outbreak including stickers on the floor to encourage social distancing and purchasing limits on items including toilet paper.

A shopper is seen carrying a reusable plastic bag at a Coles Sydney CBD store.
A number of Coles shoppers are angry about having to pack their own bags. Source: AAP (file pic)

But an Adelaide woman wrote on Facebook, “something needs to be done” about the “pack your own bag policy”.

“It just makes no sense and is only causing frustration between customers and staff and extremely long lines and waits at the checkout,” she wrote.

“Packing our own bags makes everything double the time, especially when you have a trolley full of items. The fact that the customer and the staff are touching each item doesn’t keep anyone safer by making the customer pack their own bags.

“Someone needs to get onto this and change it back because it’s absolutely infuriating!!!”

The woman added staff wear gloves while packing shelves and “there would be no risk to themselves or the customer”.

She added having to pack bags “is absolutely ridiculous”.

Another Adelaide woman, who claims she shops for eight people, wrote she couldn’t agree more.

“I can’t fit everything on the conveyor or even empty my trolley before it’s falling off the other side,” she wrote.

“I am all for everyone’s safety but they are touching everything anyway, and if it’s the bags themselves that are the issue then give away plastic bags instead.”

‘A really selfish attitude’

However, not everyone was annoyed with the policy.

A man wrote he’s “very happy” to pack his own bags “ if it means reducing an unnecessary point of contact for staff and keeping them that little bit safer”.

“Staff absolutely shouldn’t be elbow deep in thousands of customers’ dirty bags, especially during a time like this, just because you think your convenience is more important than safety,” he wrote.

He added while staff do indeed stock shelves - that’s necessary to supply customers with groceries and “packing bags is not”.

“‘They’re putting themselves at risk to do X, Y, Z thing so they might as well add to the risk further by packing bags for my own convenience’, is a really selfish attitude and way to look at it,” he wrote.

People receiving toilet paper, paper towel and pasta at Coles Supermarket, Epping in Sydney.
Coles has introduced buying limits on items including toilet paper during the pandemic. Source: AAP

A woman added staff “can’t avoid touching your groceries”.

“They can avoid touching and being elbow deep in bags that have been God knows where or what they've been exposed to,” she wrote.

“Not everyone keeps theirs clean and fragrance free.”

New measures designed to help with social distancing

In a response to the post, Coles wrote it has added measures to “make it easier” for shoppers and staff to observe social distancing.

“One of those measures is asking our customers to pack their own bags, whether bought or brought, to minimise both handling and close contact time,” it wrote.

“We appreciate any feedback our customers have on how we can improve the safety and protection of other customers and team members, so please be assured we have passed on your feedback to the relevant teams.”

Photo shows the entryway to a Coles supermarket including a display of fresh flowers for sale, with an elderly woman standing in front of it.
Coles has been criticised for policies it says are designed to help with social distancing. Source: AAP

Woolworths customers have also debated whether they should be packing their own bags.

Last month, some Coles staff voiced their concerns about hygiene amid the pandemic.

The retail giant has reportedly switched from providing alcohol-based hand sanitiser, which is recommended by health authorities, to products that don’t fall into this category, ABC News reported.

An employee at a Coles store in Melbourne, Tony Williams, argued staff felt safer using the recommended product, and he was confused as to why the head office would make the change.

Coles has been contacted for comment.

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