"Why I hate using the supermarket self checkout"

Hello Lance

I have moved your post to an existing topic which had already headed into subject of security cameras in the self service area of WW. Also the discussion you started expanded into the area of whether or not to use the self service checkouts, which was also discussed further up. Therefore this seemed the ideal place to continue the discussion.


Hello Meltam
My main complaint is the spy cameras Woolworth’s are using as well as the intrusion into our privacy and the inconvenience they have caused when their algorithm has a melt down. Woolworths and other Supermarkets created the problem by introducing self serve checkout. Just won’t be shopping at Woolworths until hell freezes over!

Information available indicates that the cameras are used to confirm what is being scanned is being scanned (especially fresh product being weighed and scanned) and that everything taken to the self service checkout is also being scanned. This does not affect the privacy of a shopper.

Any supermarket currently knows that a shopper is purchasing through recording the items that a shopper purchases. This is done across most supermarkets unless one is ‘stealing’ or deliberately mis-scanning’ items - this is the purpose of the cameras. The only way to try and avoid is to pay in cash and not to use any loyalty cards.

I suspect that the AI behind the camera isn’t sophisticated enough to detect every shopping scenario, like those you have pointed out. Possibly they should, but a alternative view is if the AI provided discretion in such cases, it could be exploited by those who genuinely want to steal from the supermarket.

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Do supermarkets need to try harder to make the self checkout obsolete,
Is there purpose in retraining the customer to follow the prompts?

It’s open for consumers to ask if the AI is as smart as they say, why can’t it replace the operator on the checkout, whether store staff or customer? If AI can work out the loose mangoes were put through as oranges, should it be able to identify and scan every item on a conveyor? Could it also redirect loose to an automated weighing and bagging machine?

A follow on question is it within the capabilities of a robot arm that elsewhere can weld a car, or turned into a leg walk, pack shopping bags any better than a human?

The AI seams smart enough to:

  • Detect errors in scanning,
  • Identify fresh produce manually scanned as a different product,
  • Blur the recorded image of the keypad to conceal pins,
  • Blur the recorded image of the face of the customer,

There’s no information on whether the blurring can be reversed or an original image is also in the archive. Given the positioning of the overhead cameras, will other details a customer considers personal or invasive be in plain view?

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Rather than privacy per se, I find self service checkouts objectionable because of their unforgiving basic nature. If the addition of an AI module stops the ‘unexpected item in shopping bag’ error requiring a staff member be called to clear it maybe it is a step ahead? Not heard a word about whether that is part of it.

What causes ‘unexpected item in shopping bag’? In addition to putting something in that was not scanned it is often so simple as moving the bag or having a bag that is on the heavier side that moves of its own accord when an item is not so carefully placed in it.

I avoid the self serve like the plague in groceries. Bunnings has dispensed with a humans excepting the tools shop and customer service desks both often having epic lines. Others are following along. It seems like part of the plan to force us onto online shopping by making personal shopping as irritating as possible in the name of ever larger profits for this or that excuse or reason.


Coles now have self-serve checkouts with conveyer belts

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I’ve noticed, although it depends on which store. Earlier this year in Newcastle, Caloundra or the new one at the Big Fish Junction (North Caboolture).

Not quite the end of staffed checkouts, although Bunnings has now joined in. Our much closer Woolies retains checkout staff. For now their self serve area is still only practical for a basket sized shop.

In another Woolies we had a need for self serve with a trolley recently. The only option short of a very long queue. One of us without thinking had difficulty following the expected bagging sequence. Placing some larger items from scanner direct to the trolley, or taking items from the bagged side to repackage in another while still adding to it. No dishonest intent but far from what the AI could handle.

I remain the least efficient checkout operator I know. Although the conveyor belt self checkout seems to reduce the confusion and manage larger shops with less stress.

P.S. added
Coles take on the new system?

A Coles spokesperson said a program designed to save costs that includes faster checkouts was helping drive profit margin improvements.

Notice the pointed reference to saving Coles costs to improve profits. No offer of any saving to the consumer doing for free the work of the staff checkout operator. What next, having to milk the cow or pluck the free range chicken? Assume Coles might promote those as providing quicker service for fresh produce. :roll_eyes: :joy:


Maybe organising flash mobs across the country having even less acumen at operating the self checkouts, overwhelming the helpful staff who might or might not see the humour in what was happening, and essentially stopping self-checkout from the clog for a while would impress their management? Apologies would be sent/posted to all those inconvenienced written with the same sincerity management uses when they apologise for their fails from shops to travel to name it.

My bad, but the self checkout trend appears to be taking over. Taking one’s dollars elsewhere is either not happening or not working. As for myself, I avoid the self checkout even if it costs me an extra tens of minutes to put one or two items through a staffed aisle or the service desk queue.


I love self checkout so i don’t have to talk to anyone lol

What the future holds! Fanciful or ……?
Left me with a silent inner chuckle.
Also a reminder any feeling of being loved while using a supermarket was probably just the morning coffee and sugar hit from the nearby cafe. :joy:

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Maybe its time has come, or at least some mods. Since we follow along behind the US by a few years no need to hold one’s breath even though hope springs eternal.


I once was a devotee of Self service Checkouts. NO MORE…

The hope is that the majors can slip price rises in under one’s nose. Mistakes and the amount of terminals that now have reduce access to “real money” is worse.

Not to mention the reduced staff levels. Went to my local COLES and when getting to the Self Service corral, I was questioned by the staff member, as I had stopped at a terminal that clearly was marked as “CARD ONLY”. ( I was happy to pay with my card). Staff member are you paying “cash or card”- said to the lady, “card”… Scanning to the end and my loyalty card was the wrong card from my e-wallet. I waited 6 minutes while the staff member was helping other people with issues on terminals. I said to the staff member upon her arrival. I won’t bother, and chose to leave. Sir is there a problem, so I explain that I knew I was using a card only machine, and although I understand "it was not her choice to implement the self service terminals , I was held up due to numerous malfunctions on other machines. Now she is run off her feet. AS I turned to leave other (two customers) chose to “advise me to be nice to the staff member! I turned to the customers and reminded them that I had not been abusive or sworn at the staff member”. I was outlining my displeasure to the delay - which should be referred to their management. I turn to leave the self service corral - and I am unable as the staff member needs to open the damn doors to let me out!

I proceed to exit the store and get abused by customers who believe I have been rude.

I drive to the nearest Store down the road which also is a Coles. Proceed to shop and once again I am pushed into the Self service corral. The store is busy, and the 3 manned registers have lines at them. Yep you guessed it, I have a scanned item that needs to be verified by a staff member. This time I wait 7 minutes while a staff member rushes around the frontend of the store fixing other terminal errors, and attending to the tobacco counter at the front of store. There is only one terminal- for a staff member to man. I am not the only person waiting. There is an elderly gent who needs help, and he waits for 10 or so minutes as well.

Finally when the staff member arrives, I ask to speak to the most senior staff member of the store ( as it is a SUNDAY). The staff member is called via the two way radios that staff now wear. I waited another 10 minutes with no one attending. The staff turn to paging the staff member on the Public Address system. And still another five minutes later NO ONE presents!

I outline my complaints to staff, who are already run off their feet, as succinctly and quickly as I can. They record my telephone number and assure me that they will ensure that the store support officer will call me tomorrow!

Stay tuned for the outcome. This is not the first time I have encountered this poor service and I chose to complain. Like I tried to explain at the first store where customers claimed I wasn’t being nice. I have a right to complain if I am impacted. My complaint although TERSE, wasn’t abusive or rude! But they were trying to win brownie points with the staff. I wasn’t making my complaints personal, and made a point of saying to staff, “I know you didn’t make the decision for these terminals, my gripe is with your management”, but I was howled down as a complainer.

It is bad enough that I am corralled and now contribute to the MILLIONS of profits the DUOPOLY makes in the shopping centre race, not to mention the pittance they pay at the producers/farm gate! I am supporting the little bloke now…The corporates can make their profits from the people who choose to be the sheep and -complain about the lost Australian JOBS without taking a stand to callout the poor service!

This just contributes to more theft, as staff are reduced. The prices will sneak up to build the duopoly profits while our young will be done of JOBS !


There’s a joke doing the rounds that soon self-service shoppers will be required to unload the delivery vehicles.

What puzzles me is how (sometimes long) queues form at self-service counters while the staffed check-outs have fewer customers waiting.

I have also noticed that. But what is the difference between say 12 self service checkouts with a queue, most having a modest or light shop, against 2 full service queues regardless of the amount of shopping?

Another aspect many overlook is that it is usually faster to queue behind fewer shoppers with relatively larger shops than to queue behind many shoppers each with more modest shops. The reason is the time it takes to process the payment that could be from seconds to minutes.

How many times does one experience someone apparently surprised that they might need to get their card, money, or phone out to pay, and they only start getting their payment out after all their shop has been scanned. In other cases the wonders of apps and phone payment systems can be laggy and take a while despite the shopper’s best efforts. Those using self service can be more predictable that is less likely to happen and delay the entire queue, even though it might.

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I had similar experience at woollies the other day.

I had all of 7 items to scan at the self-service checkout, three times the camera picked up some anomaly and stopped me. I had to wait for the attendant to come and check, look at the photo it took, and find there was -nothing! Dumb software designed to ■■■■ off the customer and staff.

Unbelievable waste of mine and the attendant’s time, and they wonder why customers get agitated towards staff and they now need security guards there – it’s because of their own IT system is a nightmare.

I remember those days, STAN the man lost his job and we got a few cents off our fuel(for a while) then gradually prices crept back up, but poor old Stan still lost his job, and fuel back to normal…still just as sneaky, nothing has changed

Don’t hate self checkout machines, never have, but I do find them amusing for the chit-chat they keep on doing, especially the reminder ‘to take your items’ and the one about the ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’.
I also admire how they’ve evolved with the times: taking a video of the customer and of the items being scanned, wow!

But I don’t know if there could come a time when the assistants would not be needed any more in the self checkout area. For example yesterday I scanned some shopping at a ‘card only’ machine and then found that I didn’t have my card with me.
Called for assistance and explained that my cash wouldn’t cover the total.
OK, they said, just tell me which items you want and come with me to the cash checkout machine.
I completed the scanning but when I tried to insert the note which I carry with me ‘just in case’ and had been folded for some time, the machine repeatedly refused to take it.
Again called for assistance. OK, they said, I’ll go and get you a new note, won’t be long.
When I finally got it all done I went over to the assistant to say thank you.
‘We try’ they said.


I sometimes shop at Woolies in a major shopping centre and usually use self-service if I only have a few items. Often I have items from other stores in my trolley, so their b#$%dy checkout cameras assume I am shoplifting and the poor soul looking after the self-service area has to go through the rigmarole of releasing me. But believe me, the poor souls looking after self-service are just as pi$$ed of about it as the shoppers are.

These machines generally haven’t bothered me too much but my recent experience at Target highlighted their problems to me. In particular an item was double scanned and this wasn’t detected till my wife went through the docket. Now this is something we don’t commonly do but she detected one item being charged twice for a total of $70 instead of $35. This occurred at the end of the day but we were able to get up to the store early in the morning to rectify this error. Due credit to the staff who accepted that a double scan had occurred and happily gave us the refund. Were we lucky to get this money back? As amateur checkout operators I can see this being a problem. I guess many people would not check their print outs carefully and these problems would go through undetected. It would be interesting to know if others have had this experience.


Early days, but my experience with new self checkouts at my favourite ALDI has been good. I would still prefer to use a checkout with an operator, but the queues can get very long indeed, and access to a self checkout is usually within a minute or two of lining up.
I’ve only done the self checkout twice, but on both occasions it was with a 3/4 full trolley, and there were no “unexpected item in bagging area” or similar issues.