It has been more than two months since Coles introduced a ban on single-use plastic bags across most of the country, triggering weeks of unrest amongst customers as they struggled to get to grips with the change. Now the supermarket chain has issued a new decree, outlawing the use of shopping trolleys in self-service checkout areas.
The ban is being trialled in a “small number of stores” across Australia with the aim of easing congestion, by requesting that customers only enter the smaller self-service areas carrying baskets, rather than pushing trolleys.
A Coles spokesperson confirmed the news to Starts at 60, but refused to identify the specific stores that have been selected to trial the new initiative.
“Assisted checkouts are a preferred choice of checkout for many customers and offer convenience and efficiency in their shopping experience,” they said in a statement.
“To improve service to customers and ease congestion, in a small number of stores we are accepting baskets only through the assisted checkouts. Team members are available to serve customers with trolleys in the main lane registers, and if there is not one vacant the store can open a register to assist customers with their shopping.”
However, shoppers have been quick to express their views on the ban, with many taking to social media to slam the supermarket chain for the policy change, blasting the “unpleasant” experience of shopping at their local Coles store.
One wrote: “Hey @Coles, why should I continue shopping in your #CBR city store if I spend longer in the queue for a checkout (because there’s only 3 open) than I do collecting the shopping. This is because you won’t let those of us with trollies use self-serve.”
While another said: “Well done Coles Fountain Gate! Only 12 items register open plus your BASKET ONLY self checkout area. Makes for an unpleasant paying experience. Can we expect prices to go down with all the staff wages being saved.”
Coles responded to the comments from disgruntled customers, by saying: “We’re sorry for the frustration. We are currently trialing baskets only in our assisted checkouts at some store to improve service to customers and ease congestion. However, as mentioned, we’ll ensure your feedback is shared with the relevant teams to take into consideration.”
It isn’t just the plastic bag ban that has seen Coles on the receiving of criticism in recent weeks either, as the supermarket chains successful Big Little Shop campaign also got people riled up, as people took umbrage with the hypocrisy of plastic toys being handed out so soon after they called time on free, single-use bags.
“To say I was flabbergasted at being offered plastic toys of shopping items just after Coles rolled out the plastic bag ban would be an understatement,” one angry shopper wrote. “This is heartbreaking, infuriating and I am mad as heck about this!”
Another added: “You have decided to give up the plastic bags for customers which is long overdue, and now you are promoting your own agenda for us to shop in your stores by offering free rubbish toys that cost so much to produce and end up in our bins. Get your act together Coles.”