Woolworths shoppers react to new self-checkout tech: 'I'm being called a thief'

Woolworths shoppers have threatened to boycott the supermarket giant over new camera technology being trialled at checkouts.

Overhead cameras at self-serve registers have been installed at select stores in a bid to reduce errors and make shopping faster.

Image recognition technology detects when items aren't being scanned correctly.

Overhead cameras Woolworths is trialling at self-serve checkouts
Woolworths is trialling new camera technology at select stores across the country to help reduce incorrect scans. Source: Woolworths

If a wrongful scan occurs, a short video highlights the affected product and customers then have the opportunity to re-scan it.

Yahoo News understands the vision is not viewed live and any faces detected are blurred when the footage is reviewed by a person so that the customer cannot be identified.

The message that appears when an item isn't scanned correctly at new Woolworths self-serve checkouts
A short video alerts customers when an item isn't scanned correctly. Source: Woolworths

Some registers also have a second hidden camera inside the register which records what is going through the till and quickly filters the list of possible products based on their colour, shape and size.

Everything placed inside the customer's grocery bag is also caught on camera.

Self-serve checkout scanner at Woolworths
A hidden camera has been installed in self-serve scanners at Woolworths stores to correctly identify products. Source: Woolworths

Reducing false purchases

The surprising feature also tackles theft by stopping customers from entering a cheaper product when weighing produce at the checkout.

As the technology is progressively rolled out at more locations across the country, Woolworths staff have begun putting up notices to inform customers of the changes.

Note at Woolworths checkout titled
Woolworths has begun warning shoppers they are being recorded at the checkout as the technology is rolled out. Source: Reddit/shairani

Shoppers react to hidden cameras

One shopper shared an image of a note titled "camera technology trial in progress" on Reddit, which warned shoppers they were being recorded.

"The technology records you and the transaction detecting when items aren't scanned correctly," it read.

"This trial is being conducted to test the accuracy of the checkout process and the new stock loss prevention technology."

The post sparked a mixed reaction online, with some describing the new feature as "off putting".

"I've stopped going to my local Woolworths because of this," one shopper declared.

"Boycott Woolworths," another demanded.

"All the better reason to keep shopping at Aldi, where possible," someone else wrote.

A filtered fruit and veg menu at Woolworths self-serve checkout
The Woolworths scanner records what is going through the till and using artificial intelligence filters the list of possible products based on their colour, shape and size. Source: Woolworths

Many who were already familiar with the new technology claimed it didn't simplify the process because cheaper produce often scanned as more expensive varieties.

"Next time go buy some bananas, the cheap ones. Get it to recognise it. You'll see that it scans as 'organic'," one man claimed.

Others accused the retailer of treating them as thieves.

"Those checkout machines annoy me to no end," one shopper commented. "Out of the last 10 times I've used a self-service machine at Woolworths, I've had to call an assistant to come over to verify I'm not stealing anything."

"I'm basically being called a thief without actually being one," the customer continued. "It puts me off shopping at Woolworths. One more reason to stop using the self checkouts."

Some shared long-held resentment toward self-serve registers, renewing calls for more cashiers.

"How to make a simple process over complicated. Just go back to paying staff!" one Reddit user raged.

Others complained about being forced to scan their own groceries.

"I'm a big fan of automation, but self-checkouts are not an example of automation. The work isn't being done by machines, it's just being shifted from employees to customers," one man commented.

Woolworths addresses new camera technology

A spokesperson for the Woolies told Yahoo News the new camera technology is being trialled at select stores to see if it can "help reduce misscans and improve speed for customers through the checkout."

"While most customers do the right thing at our self-serve checkouts, we’re all busy and mistakes can easily happen," the statement read.

"This technology, which is used internationally, should make the self-serve scanning process more accurate for our customers.

"We’ll listen closely to both customer and team feedback on the trial over the coming months."

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.