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Woolworths increases checkout security camera surveillance

Changes to checkouts at Woolworths to ‘reduce scanning errors’ will also catch Australian shoppers who ‘fail’ to pack groceries without paying.

The supermarket said it would try to reduce errors and thefts by installing powerful new monitoring systems that register customers at any checkout.

Shoppers were concerned about in-store signs warning they could be filmed, particularly due to the use of cameras in self-service lanes.

Woolworths is rolling out big changes to all of its checkouts to ‘reduce scanning errors’ which will also catch Australian shoppers trying to shop without paying

Woolworths deploys surveillance cameras at self-service and operator-assisted checkouts (pictured, the camera system is located on the arm above the checkouts)

If the camera system detects that an item has not been scanned, it illuminates a red light above the checkout

Woolworths deploys surveillance cameras at self-service and operator-assisted checkouts to reduce incidents of false scanning

Woolworths said the trial of the new camera technology was to see if it could help reduce scanning errors and improve speed for customers at checkout.

“If a mis-scan occurs, a short video highlights the affected product and customers then have the option to rescan it,” he said.

“While most customers do the right thing at our self-service checkouts, we’re all busy and mistakes can easily happen.”

Woolworths said the technology is used internationally and “should make the self-service scanning process more accurate”.

However, most shoppers and retail watchers expect the supermarket’s real motivation to be to catch more thefts at self-service checkouts.

Fake swiping by shoppers at self-service checkouts costs Australian stores up to $9 billion a year, according to the Australian Retailers Association.

Retail analysts have claimed Australian shoppers don’t feel bad about fake swipes – also known as “micro-thefts” – as they are seen as stealing from a “robot”.

Woolworths’ new camera technology detects when something has bypassed your scanner by filming the area the customer is in, then stops the checkout process and triggers a red light above.

Technology pauses the checkout process to replay a video on the checkout screen in front of you if it detects an item being bagged without being scanned

Technology pauses the checkout process to replay a video on the checkout screen in front of you if it detects an item being bagged without being scanned

On social media, Australians reacted to in-store signs warning customers they could be filmed with a mixture of anger and concern

On social media, Australians reacted to in-store signs warning customers they could be filmed with a mixture of anger and concern

It then replays a video of the problem on the payment screen in front of you.

The footage, which blurs the faces and payment keypad, is being kept by Woolworths in case police ask to see it later.

The system covers all store checkouts testing the new cameras, including those with operators scanning your shopping.

This means cameras can pick up customers “forgetting” to pay for loose or heavy items in their carts – like 24 packs of drinks or a tray of dog cans.

As soon as a customer accidentally or deliberately pushes their cart past the scanner or checkout operator, if it contains products, the red light above will go out and show the operator a video of the problem.

The new anti-theft camera systems were first tested at Woolworths Seven Hills in western Sydney, followed by Hornsby, Neutral Bay, Chullora and Carnes Hill.

The trial will be expanded to hundreds of stores across NSW, Victoria and Queensland with more states and territories to follow.

Woolworths has 1,086 stores across Australia.

“At the end of the day, you have nothing to worry about if you do the right thing,” a retail source told Daily Mail Australia.

As soon as a customer accidentally or deliberately pushes their cart past the scanner or checkout operator, if it contains products, the above red light will go out and show the operator a video of the problem

As soon as a customer accidentally or deliberately pushes their cart past the scanner or checkout operator, if it contains products, the above red light will go out and show the operator a video of the problem

Woolworths said it would “listen carefully to customer and team feedback on the trial over the coming months”.

But regardless of shoppers’ opposition to the cameras, the supermarket leader is unlikely to back down from the new anti-theft camera.

Shoppers advised each other online to inform the supermarket that they did not consent to being filmed.

But the technology is legal in Australia, so the retail source said refusing to accept would only be told to shop elsewhere.

“Every time you go pretty much anywhere you pass CCTV so that’s nothing new,” one said.


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