Exclusive: Shoppers claim some key pads clearly exposed if entering pin numbers
Sainsbury’s customers are complaining about “creepy” CCTV screens being placed above self-service checkouts at hundreds of the company’s stores.
The supermarket giant insisted the screens, which show people a live feed of themselves as they pay for their produce, were in place to keep “customers and colleagues safe”.
But shoppers said they were “intrusive” and “Orwellian”, with some claiming key pads were clearly exposed if they were to enter their pin numbers.
Civil liberties campaigners called on Sainsbury’s to ditch the surveillance screens, which were branded a “gross intrusion” of privacy and a “blatant attempt to intimidate customers”.
One Sainsbury’s regular, who did not want to be named, told The Independent she had been a customer for decades but was “shocked” to find herself being filmed while purchasing her groceries at a branch in central London.
“Not only does it feel like there is mistrust and that you are potentially guilty of something, but there’s also the fear they will be storing your data.”
She added: “I shan’t be using their self-service machines ever again. I felt violated.”
Another shopper said he encountered the screens at an outlet in Fitzrovia, London. He said: “It struck me as bizarre really. I don’t want to seem all tinfoil hat, but it just seemed a little bit Orwellian.
“It’s a bit bizarre just to be looking at your face while you’re doing something, because it really feels like someone is over your shoulder while you’re just getting a packet of crisps and a coke.
“It just felt a little bit strange.”
After asking Sainsbury’s about the cameras, he was told they were to help “facilitate a better customer journey”.
Other customers complained on social media to the supermarket. One said a screen “clearly” showed the pin machine, while another posted an image showing a Sainsbury’s monitor displaying a keypad.
“What’s up with recording customers entering their PINs at the self-checkout?” Gabriel Currie asked.
One Twitter user said the CCTV meant "you could see down my top and this image was displayed on the screen".
Complaining to Sainsbury’s, Chloe Heatlie said: “It’s pretty creepy to be frank with you. Certainly didn’t benefit my customer experience.”
Multiple social media users vowed to boycott the machines, and even Sainsbury’s itself, until the screens were removed.
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said the cameras were part of a “security measure” to increase safety at its stores.
CCTV User Group & NASCAM Comment:
This is clearly not a well thought through use of CCTV and the real reason, which most will realise is loss prevention, should be explained to customers in an open and transparent way. Simply saying the cameras are there to "increase safety at our stores" simply won't wash with most people and that will make them even more sceptical about the use of CCTV. Not only is there a lack of transparency here, it may even be unlawful.
And lastly, the supermarkets have had us all scanning our own shopping (a function that they used to perform at some considerable cost) for many years now. If customers were to refuse to use these CCTV monitored checkouts from now on, the costs of employing more staff and installing more check-outs might see them reconsider their use of CCTV in this way.