It’s been introduced to help the planet, but while some Coles and Woolies customers have welcomed the recent plastic bag ban, others have reacted with furious outbursts at checkout workers and staff – with one customer even grabbing a worker by the throat.
Supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles both recently implemented the ban on free plastic bags and are instead charging customers for reusable bags if they forget to bring their own with them.
It’s sparked a major public outcry from many, with some calling it a “money-making scam”, while others insist it’s unfair to charge extra when their shopping is already pricey enough.
Now, checkout workers in stores across the country have shared their own startling experiences over the last week in a feature on Channel Nine’s A Current Affair.
“Yesterday I had a gentleman who was like, I’m against the banned bags, because what am I going to use, to line my bins,” one staff member explained. “I’m just hoping that it’s not going to be too bad tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Bernie Smith from the SDA Union, which represents retail workers, slammed customers who take their anger out on staff, and revealed in the worst case yet, one staff member was assaulted in Western Australia.
“I don’t know what would possess somebody to think they have the right to touch a retail staff member but he grabbed them by the throat,” he said. “They’re just doing their jobs, they don’t make the rules.”
More customers have called the ban a “scam”, with one writing on Twitter: “@Coles You can keep your money because I will not be shopping there as I was charged for bags after a shop of $250. Might as well shop at Aldi. It’s cheaper than @Coles anyways and quick at checkouts. What a money making scam with this plastic ban. Today was my last shop.”
Another added: “It’s was never about the environment in the first place. it was all a money making scam. Feel sorry for the checkout staff who cop all the abuse the sooner they bring plastic bags back the better.”
While many customers have kept their anger in check, some have instead taken matters into their own hands. According to news.com.au, one customer decided to walk off with a basket, and shared the photo on Coles’ Facebook page.
“I’ll leave my free reusable bag out the front for your collection, Coles,” they reportedly wrote, alongside the photo of the basket.
Another took the protest further, and loaded an entire shopping trolley into their car, writing on the social media site: “No bag, no problem? We’ll take the trolley.”
Commenting on the posts, one customer accused the stores of “hypocrisy” due to the large amounts of plastic used in food packaging, while others claimed the reusable bags are “useless” and break easily.
Seeing a complaint about a broken bag, a Coles spokesperson reportedly replied: “We’re very sorry to see this. These bags are intended to be long lasting and be reused many times, so we’re very sorry to see this wasn’t the case this time.
“We’ll let our Quality Team know about this so they’re aware of this issue and we’d suggest you return to your local store so the bag can be replaced. We’re very sorry for the disappointment.”