Woolworths is quietly trialling a new security camera system at some of its self-service checkouts, presenting shoppers with a “digital reflection” of themselves while scanning their groceries.
But some shoppers are “shocked” to see the new feature, saying the supermarket giant gave no warning about the odd new tech.
Branwell Travers said he was shopping at a Woolworths store this week in Fitzroy, Melbourne, when he saw footage of himself reflected on the self-service checkout touchscreen.
“I got half way through scanning my basket of items and saw in the corner of my eye a little video,” Travers told PEDESTRIAN.TV.
“It took me a while to work out it was a video of me.”
For how long has Woolworths been filming me while using self-checkouts? pic.twitter.com/SVQ0aN2UX5— BT (@Br_Tr) May 29, 2020
“I was kinda confused and thought maybe it was a malfunction or something,” he said.
“But I looked over my shoulder and saw the person next to me had the same thing.”
Travers said the store gave no indication that a new camera system was in place, and that no alerts appeared on the touchscreen during the transaction.
“The video just sat there in the corner,” he said, adding that he completed the transaction as per usual.
He’s not the only one to question the new addition. Another Twitter user yesterday said they were “shocked” at the “gross invasion of privacy” by the camera system.
But Woolworths says the footage is not recorded, nor stored, and is just a live reflection of customers using the checkouts.
“We know the vast majority of our customers do the right thing at our self-serve checkouts,” a Woolworths spokesperson told PEDESTRIAN.TV.
“This is a new security measure we’re trialling for those that don’t.”
According to that logic, the system appears to be a digital ‘mirror’ designed to discourage theft, without actually recording anything.
Customers who don’t want to have their mug broadcast back at them can use the regular staffed checkouts, the spokesperson said.
It’s currently unclear how many stores are operating the trial, or how long it will last.
The launch of the system comes one year after the introduction of large video screens at some Woolworths self checkout lanes – and just weeks after a Sydney student was rumbled in court for scanning expensive nuts as bananas at a rival Coles store.
Additional questions sent to Woolworths about the trial were not responded to by the time of publication.