Noni Lyall, 68, was shopping at her local store in Vincentia on the NSW South Coast last Friday and was using the self-serve checkouts, when suddenly "the red flashing light above [her] head started going off" — a glitch in the system she thought.
"To put it bluntly, I was p***ed off. I just couldn't believe it," she told Yahoo News Australia.
Woolworths 'accusing customers of stealing'
The "place was packed" when Noni was checking out. She'd scanned and bagged up all her groceries but had left out a bottle of juice that wouldn't fit. She put the items back in her trolley and was trying to pay when an on-screen prompt appeared, and it seemed the supermarket's AI tech, which includes overhead cameras scanning the trolley, picked up the juice.
Over walked "the checkout watchdog" to check her items, Noni explained. "I said to her, 'what's all this about?' and she said, 'It's saying that you haven't scanned some of your items in your shopping trolley'."
"I'm 68-year-old lady, I don't steal," she told Yahoo. "I just thought, wow, you want us to do all our own work now by scanning our own groceries, not having the staff to service, and yet you're going to start accusing us of not paying? How dare they".
Shoppers turning off Woolworths
She's not the only one who's expressed frustration over the issues with the supermarket's self-serve technology, with some calling them "hell". Other supermarkets have introduced AI technology too.
In the past, a Woolworths spokesperson said the tech is aimed at reducing accidental mis-scans and making "shopping more convenient and seamless" for customers. It also acts to combat theft, detecting if a customer deliberately scans an item incorrectly, or misses something entirely.
"All retailers are experiencing an increase in retail crime, and we’re no exception," a Woolworths spokesman told Yahoo.
"If Woolworths is going to accuse customers of stealing please get [the] cameras fixed so they read accurately," Noni said.
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