While many shoppers appreciate the lack of human interaction involved in self-service checkouts, more than 100,000 disagree and have signed a petition to stop the replacement of people by machines in Tesco.
The Change.org petition was launched earlier this month by Pat McCarthy, a 69-year-old shopper who said roughly three quarters of the tills at her local Tesco are now self-service.
She argued that checkouts with no staff ‘make the shopping experience physically difficult and overwhelming’, adding that she loves ‘chatting with the staff, albeit briefly’ as she lives on her own.
Pat continued: “These new tills are not accessible for people who don't have credit cards and can only use cash or those with little confidence to use these self-service card-only tills – myself included.
“People such as carers, older people, disabled people with mobility problems or lifting problems have to queue waiting for more than 30 minutes…
“As an older woman, I can't lift anything heavy, and that goes for many disabled people.”
Thousands of people agree with this sentiment, with the petition receiving nearly 103,000 signatures at the time of writing – a figure that continues to grow.
“I believe this is a way of employing fewer staff in retail and making the customer do the work,” wrote one participant. “Let's keep people in jobs and enjoy a human interaction.”
Another said: “My stress levels shoot through the roof if I have to put my purchases through these self service machines… we should never be forced to do this.”
Whether you are a fan of self-service checkouts or not, there’s no denying there are plenty of people who want to see more people behind tills in Tesco.
But what exactly is the goal of the petition? Well, speaking to the BBC, Pat explained: "You do need some self-service for the people who find them more convenient but just fewer.”
She also wrote in her petition pledge: “I challenge Ken Murphy Chief Executive of Tesco to meet with me for a discussion to explain his 'replace people with machines policy'.
“I want Ken Murphy to bring staff back to do check-outs on the till and not have a replace people with machines policy.”
Tesco is one of many brands trying out shops with no tills, having opened its first one back in October last year.
Although many stores still have staff-led checkouts, a significant portion have been replaced with automated systems.
On the other side of the fence, numerous people appreciate self-service, including this person who wrote on Twitter: “Being on the autistic spectrum, I find self service tills a godsend as I don't have to queue anxiously waiting, knowing I have to speak to someone.”
A Tesco spokesperson has since responded to the petition, telling the BBC: "Our colleagues and the friendly service they provide are absolutely vital to our stores and will always be on hand to help our customers, whether they are checking out at one of our colleague-operated or self-service checkouts."
Featured Image Credit: Pat McCarthy/Alamy