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Why are Sainsbury’s Treating Their Customers Like Criminals?

Retailer demands customers show their receipt before letting them leave.

Retail giant Sainsbury's is trialing a new scheme that requires customers to scan their receipt before being allowed to leave the store.

Shoppers reported being forced to scan their receipts before being allowed to leave in a number of Sainsbury's stores across the UK. Self-checkout areas in the stores now have barriers which will only open when the customer scans their receipt. The innocent shopper is first corralled into the area and then prevented from leaving the store unless they have the receipt for their purchase.

The bizarre move, which treats every customer as a potential criminal, has outraged shoppers with many taking to social media to vent their anger. One said: "Essentially they are holding [people] hostage against their will as they refuse to let people leave without scanning a receipt that not everyone chooses to get in the first place. What will they do? Hold someone hostage and rifle through bags before releasing you?"

Another described the move as an "appalling way to treat customers", while another agreed, saying: "I’ve been loyal to Sainsbury’s for 30 years. Now it stops. How dare you insult me, by scanning receipts to leave."

"Farewell you untrusting store." Another Twitter user said: "So it appears that Sainsbury's Redhill no longer trust you and a till receipt is required to get out of till areas. "Not only do they expect you to do your own bagging & own till work for free, they want you to prove you have done it!"

Another Twitter user suggested this was "another step closer to a cashless society and control.."

Retail expert Phil Jefferies said the retailer had "changed the emphasis from presumed innocent to presumed guilty" adding that it was "likely to alienate a sizable portion of their customer base."

A Sainsbury's spokesperson said that this is "not a new security measure and features in a small number of our stores at the self-service checkout areas." Which fails to explain why it has been implemented at all. Receipt scanning to open the barriers comes seconds after the customer has gone through the self-service tills, where basket weighting, CCTV recording and automated checks have already taken place, making the act of showing the receipt again 2 seconds later, completely redundant.

The process is more likely to form part of the plan for shops without assistants or cashiers, where everything is automated, and customers are scanned by facial recognition cameras and tracked around the store. No, this is not science fiction, this is already a frightening reality, see Amazon's physical shop in London for a glimpse into the dystopian future we're all facing.

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