Shopping Trolley Derby - Trolley Lotto - Locking Shopping Trolleys

We’ve all had experience with shopping trolleys that have locking wheels - corralled in a mystical paddock of like minded trolleys from which there seems no escape.

Or have we? it seems in some areas that locking trolley wheels are unknown - and people who venture out of the range of the free range trolley, where trolleys run wild and roam the plains are surprised when they travel to areas where trolleys have no such freedom … where trolleys pile up at the edges of their domain in what can only be described as trolleygeddon …

Trolleys are a pain - supermarkets tell us how much they cost each year to maintain and replace (and fair enough), they often seem to occupy the best free parking space in the car park, the casters don’t always cast and the wheels aren’t always round - and we often do the trolley-shuffle to avoid the poor guy wrestling 90 of them with a rope to get them back to the supermarket stalls.

I’ve experienced the trolley-crush - where locking trolleys (would) go through a choke point but the wheels lock so they all gather in a maze of trolleygeddon making the exit impassable. Footpaths littered with locked trolleys and small signs that only become obvious once the trolley acts like a stubborn donkey. Then there’s the flat wheels made by people who have defiantly dragged an unforgiving trolley the last hundred metres to the car after it has locked … then there are those of us who have found the ‘unlock song’ and dreamt of evil but funny ways to lock all the trolleys in the store all at once (maybe you’ve done more than just dreamt it?).

It would be interesting to hear people’s stories of locking trolley wheels - the good, the bad and the ugly …


Where we go shopping Woolies have cleverly placed the outer trolley limit so I can’t get the trolley to te disabled parking spots located outside the shopping complex. Upstairs for thinking!

I have found that pulling the trolley in reverse seems to work, but not always.


We live about a 5 minutes walk from our local Woollies.

Around 5 years ago, roaming trolleys were regularly (about one a week in our section of the street) put to pasture on the nature strip along most of the streets within a few minutes walk of the store. The trolley collectors had a special marshalling trailer to lasso and return these fugitives back to their home.

The store management thought they would bring in a training program, which included the gold coin deposit system, to try and muster these wild beasts back to the supermarket. They had tremendous effect with a dramatic reduction in the number of truant trolleys. I would estimate that around 95% of the former rogue trolleys returned to the herd every time they were temporarily separated. There were still the odd furtive one, which had to be reined in by notifying either Woollies or the lost trolley website…but these were few and far between.

However, about 6 months ago, the trolley liberationists won and the training program was removed by our local Woollies store. It didn’t take long for wandering trolleys to return to the streets and now one again has to be very careful not to fall foul of a disgruntled beast on the nature strip.

It is anyone’s guess why a successful trial/program was abandoned.


An article regarding an Adelaide council introducing a $200 penalty for supermarkets or customers for abandoned shopping trolleys.

Our local council introduced this in 2016 with great success.

Prior to this, Coles and Woollies had the coin system but had removed it prior to the new council requirement and they and our local Supa IGA all have wheel locks now.

Dan Murphys and First Choice kept the coin system and I have never seen any of their trolleys abandoned.

I have also not seen any abandoned supermarket trolleys in ages.



ALDI maintain their coin/token system and this seems to reduce the appearance of their trolleys outside the shopping area. Money seems to matter even if only a $1 or $2 amount.

With the Trolley lock system you do find trolleys outside the shopping area with their wheels locked, obviously still dragged by the shopper to get to some point where they are happy to abandon it. It you drag the trolley backwards the wheels either rotate or as it is usually a front wheel is easily dragged along finally wearing a flat spot on the wheel, the locked wheel can often be raised slightly to also avoid the locked issue. If you ever get one of these after they are returned and unlocked you may note the thump thump as the flat spot on the wheel rotates.


… or just unlock them yourself - the right song works well :wink:


As Pauline said, “Please explain”?

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This one works on our local woolies trolleys …

I just hold the phone next to the locking wheel, and it works. You could use a speaker coil in your shoe and a longer cable, or potentially an amp and lock/unlock the whole store - I can’t say I haven’t been tempted.

There are hardware kits people have made up, and different solutions for different trolley wheel locks.

I’ve not been challenged so far, and theres no sign that says not to do it :slight_smile: