Let’s talk: Would you steal from the self-serve checkout?

Self-serve checkouts may have revolutionised the shopping experience for customers, but it’s creating one giant headache for supermarkets as reports

Self-serve checkouts may have revolutionised the shopping experience for customers, but it’s creating one giant headache for supermarkets as reports reveal Coles and Woolworths are losing out big time on stolen goods.

Aussie retailers lost $380 million last year alone, as customers helped themselves to sneaky savings at the checkout.

Since the self-serve checkout zone is usually so busy it’s easy for people to deliberately select a different and cheaper product when putting their groceries through.

For example, someone might scan though a bulb of garlic, but select onions on the screen instead – a product that is a lot cheaper and will save them a few extra dollars and cents.

It’s becoming a huge dilemma for the supermarkets who are trying to develop ways to catch customers out.

Criminology professor Adrian Beck, from the University of Leicester in Britain, has studied the same issue in supermarkets across Britain and says people find it easy to justify their stealing from a big corporation they think is too expensive anyway.

“People are very good at neutralising their moral concerns when thinking about stealing things … and people can end up feeling they have a right to get their share of the corporate profits,” Professor Beck told SMH.

It seems plenty of Aussies who would never consider stealing from another store have no problem taking home a self-imposed discount from the supermarket as they feel they are being ripped off by them in every other way.

While some have justified the stealing by saying it’s just their way of fighting back against supermarkets charging them too much, others say it is flat out stealing and morally wrong.

The topic has certainly started a fiery debate in our office, so we’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Is it ok to give yourself a discount at the self-serve checkout? Or, is it plain wrong? Have you ever scanned a cheaper item on purpose?

  1. Neta Williams  

    No I would not steal from them as I simply refuse to use self service. We pay way over the top prices for our groceries due to theft and greed from share holders. As a pensioner paying these prices I deserve to be served by a human being.

    • Marjorie  

      I feel the same way. I want the personal touch not a machines.

  2. Carol Borg  

    I also like to be served by a human being. Unfortunately since self service has been put into our super markets there are not that many checkouts open, this causes long lines and it’s very frustrating. No I would steel from a super market, I to am a pensioner.

  3. Carol Borg  

    I just put a comment I was supposed to put wouldn’t steal.

  4. Pauline  

    I wouldn’t steal from anyone.I refuse to use the service as I think it puts people out of a job.Woolworths and Coles wouldn’t loose much as they are very wary of what goes on.Sometimes I become cranky as the checkouts are not opened at times and we stand for ages to be served,surely management can see people waiting .At lease Aldi get you through quickly and you have to pack your own bags.

  5. Kerry Clark  

    What costs supermarkets more, checkout operators or losses on defrauding customers at self service checkouts. If the dishonesty is costing more than staff why don’t supermarkets just get rid of self service and staff back on check outs? Go figure!

    • Exactly. I don’t use Coles or Woolworths for exactly that reason. Shopping takes 20 minutes then a wait of 15 to be checked out. Only one cashier on duty. Queues at least 5 waiting. That’s why they are losing money (plus a big reduction in their range of products)

    • Steve Leszczynski  

      My thoughts too. They are, as usual paying too much attention to the bottom line instead of customer service

  6. Janet Foster  

    My thoughts exactly Kerry Clark.

  7. Alison greer  

    What they loose in people giving themselves a discount is far less than the wages they would have to pay for actual staff to serve you. It was their choice to install these selve serve checkouts so if they didn’t do their sums properly allowing for this to happen it is their problem. I also would not use them. Why do the work yourself that can be done for you. I see some people struggling to scan and pack large quantities of shopping and I think to myself “what idiots”…the only things that can really be juggled in price are the fruit and vegies, everything else is bar coded and should beep if not scanned as you go out..

  8. If the Supermarkets are losing so much money with these self service checkouts why are they not scrapping them and reverting back to the old face to face checkouts…….. I personally will not use these self service checkouts as I would rather be giving a job to a person who needs one. If I have to wait a few minutes more so be it. If you loose money on the self service model SCRAP IT and make a few more people happy to have a job and save some money in the process.

  9. Di Allpike  

    I use the self serve regularly because I’m rather fanatical about how my goods are packed. Got past tired of asking the operators to leave the bread out and watch them squeeze it as they passed it through. I get rather angry about the thieving that happens at the self serves. Those nefarious folk make it difficult for we honest folk who do the right thing. Every new store I’ve been to has begun without weighting the bagging area, thereby allowing me to put my goods through faster. After a time, I have always found that this has to change due to the thieving. Goes to show how low some humans have become. Once upon a time it was rare to find thieves, nowadays sad to say there are many

  10. Roy Bridges  

    Rubbish ,first of all they made a fortune out of self service checkouts reduction in staff. This more than covered for any theft . This is a fact, also many trial done for which all proved that the self serviced checkout were very profitable . It was also found that there was only minimum increase in theft.
    They have a staff member at the self service checkout and camers , if they have a problem then it’s there’s they wanted self service checkout they need to put up with outcome which I would suggest they make more money.

  11. Dawna  

    I would never steal from anyone. These self serve checkouts put our young people out of jobs. For Some young people, this is the first job experience in the work force they might have had. Where are they going to get customer service experience now? Bring back REAL service. I find self service quicker but jobs are for housewives and young people are much more important than the extra time you have to wait. We have eight checkouts but usually only two are open! Wake up supermarkets.

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