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Coles customer baffled by 'weird' checkout demand from staff

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

A Coles shopper has aired her confusion over an apparent self-checkout rule she claimed a staff member insisted she adhere to, marking yet another apparent guideline Aussies are being made to comply with when paying for groceries.

The shopper, based in Victoria, took to social media earlier this week claiming that a Coles employee "weirdly" demanded she process bulkier items first when paying for her groceries, before scanning other smaller products.

Mum confused over 'weird' checkout ask

The shopper took to social media, explaining that staff were quick to approach her while she was paying for her groceries.

An Aussie mum on TikTok.
An Aussie mum has taken to social media to air her confusion over a "weird" Coles anti-theft protocol. Source: TikTok.

"I just had a really weird experience in Coles," Teya said in the clip on TikTok. "I was going to purchase a box, like a carton of mineral water, and the lady that was overseeing the area was very insistent on helping me.

"And I was like, 'no, it’s fine — I’m in the self-checkout, I’ll just do it myself'. She was like, 'OK, but can you scan it [the carton] first?'

"And I’m like, OK, that’s a bit weird. I don’t know why. But she was very adamant that I had to scan the carton first," the mum said, asking her audience for help over why she'd been made to process her groceries in that particular order.

The video attracted almost 200 comments, with others claiming to work at the big two supermarkets confirming the rule.

"This happened to me this week, too," one said. "That happened to me tonight with toilet paper. She insisted on putting it through manually. Then at the end our trolley was locked and wouldn't move," a second wrote.

Others, who said they worked at Coles or Woolworths, said the move was an anti-theft measure.

"High loss items," one worker commented. "It's not comfortable asking at all as a Coles worker, but it's a key metric for us".

The hybrid self-checkouts.
The hybrid self-checkouts were introduced across Coles stores last year. Source: Facebook.

"As a Woolies worker, I don’t often shop at Coles but to be honest bulk items are monitored due to theft, not saying that all customers would thieve —but loss of bulk items add up daily. Same as fruit and veg," another user responded.

Many more, claiming to be Coles employees, said they "have to otherwise we get in trouble".

Coles cracking down on theft

Around the country, the nation's major retailers, including Coles and Woolworths, have reported soaring levels of shoplifting in recent months. Last year, Coles announced 20 per cent stock losses from theft (and food waste) as it revealed a $1.1b profit.

Meanwhile Woolworths estimated theft made up a quarter of stock loss when it revealed its $1.6b profit in 2023.

Coles responds after woman's checkout experience

Speaking to Yahoo News, a Coles spokesperson said team members will "offer assistance" to shoppers when it comes to bulky items at the checkout but wouldn't clarify if it was an effort to mitigate theft.

"Coles is always looking for ways to improve how we serve our customers and provide exceptional customer service," the spokesperson said. "Our team members are always encouraged to help our customers where possible. Where a customer has certain items, this may include bulky or heavy items, our team will offer to assist them in scanning the items when checking out."

Earlier, Coles explained that 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 safety of our team members and customers is our top priority, and we have a range of security measures in place to reduce theft from our stores, including security personnel and surveillance technologies such as CCTV."

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