Australian shoppers have admitted to cheating when scanning items at self-service checkouts out of frustration – and to save money.
One common lurk works like this: a shopper, having picked up, say, five avocados, will enter a cheaper vegetable, perhaps apples, before weighing their purchase. The avos go through at $1.99 a kilo instead of $10.49 a kilo.
A Canstar Blue survey found 9 per cent of shoppers admitted to deliberately cheating at a self-service checkout. This rose to 17 per cent for people aged in their 30s, compared to just 2 per cent of people aged over 70.
A spokesperson for Coles said the company was not concerned by the small number of customers who were shoplifting: “Coles has driven our customer loyalty and sales by opening our stores and providing great service which more than offsets the very small amount of theft and fraud at the checkout by a small number of our 18 million customers a week.”
But a Woolworths’ spokesperson said customers who shoplifted would be caught and prosecuted.
“The vast majority of Woolworths’ customers do the honest and right thing. Our message to the small minority of would-be shoplifters is simple – just don’t do it,” the spokeperson said.
“We closely monitor these checkouts, we adapt our systems to new shoplifting methods and we will catch anyone who does the wrong thing.”
Lauren Elton, a 24-year-old Coles shopper, admits to scanning incorrect items every time she shops.
“I usually do it every time for at least one of the items I’m buying,” Ms Elton said.
“When I’m buying more expensive items, I’ll tend to scan more things through as cheaper. But I’ll usually always put through avocados or expensive items as brown onions.”
Ms Elton said she had been caught shoplifting at self-serve checkouts a few times. She usually pretends it is an accident and has to rescan everything.
“As much as it is scary and so embarrassing getting caught, I guess you could say it is outweighed by the huge satisfaction of when you get to walk away having saved up to $30 on your grocery shop,” she said.
Tom Redford, a 19-year-old student, said he had shoplifted in the past but after being caught and let off with a warning he is now an honest shopper.
“I don’t do it anymore but it was just for the adrenaline rush and it was just because I didn’t care and would prefer to spend the money on other things,” Mr Redford said.
Donna Bunnell, a Sydney mother of two, said she knew a lot of people who scanned the wrong item at the self-service checkout but didn’t think it was an issue.
“A lot of my friends and people I know do it and they’re all really honest people,” Ms Bunnell said.
“I would never do it myself because of the fear of getting caught.” – Paul Burns