Tesco has come under fire as a Change petition signed by more than 215,000 customers calling for the supermarket to stop adding self-service checkouts has gained momentum, driven by social media hashtags #BringBackTescoStaff and #TescoVeryLittleHelps.
The surge in interest comes in advance of a discussion around the topic which will be taking place on BBC One’s The One show later this evening.
The hashtag #BringBackTescoStaff was trending on Twitter this morning as shoppers took to social media to discuss the petition which is calling on the supermarket to “stop replacing people with machines”.
The petition, which was was started by customer Pat McCarthy earlier this year, has now gained momentum and has currently been signed by more than 215,000 customers who say they have “had enough of self-service machines replacing real staff”.
McCarthy claims that self-service tills at her local Tesco Extra now account for two-thirds of the checkouts and is calling for Tesco to redress the balance.
The petition argues that these tills – which are often card-only – are not accessible for many shoppers on a budget. It also states that older people and those with disabilities are less likely to be able to use self-checkouts and the lack of staffed tills was leading to long queues for those who couldn’t use the self-service tills.
“I want Ken Murphy, the chief executive officer of Tesco, to bring back more staffed tills and check-outs,” said McCarthy.
“I want him to commit to a People & Profit Policy not a Profits before People Policy.”
In response to the campaign, a Tesco spokesperson told Grocery Gazette: “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.
“We first introduced self-service checkouts nearly 20 years ago to give our customers a choice and our stores have both types of checkout.”
McCarthy will also be appearing on The One Show this evening in a bid to get Tesco’s attention to ensure the “shopping experience is inclusive for people with disabilities and the inability to use self-service checkouts”.
She has asked people to support the campaign on social media and message Tesco directly, using the hashtag #TescoVeryLittleHelps.
Many have tweeted their support for the petition, with one person pointing out that “staffed tills are absolutely necessary for people with both visible and invisible disabilities”.
I don’t mind using self service at all. In fact, it can be quicker. However, staffed tills are absolutely necessary for people with both visible and invisible disabilities. A prime example is those with dementia – self service is confusing and rushed. #BringBackTescoStaff
— PottsTheElder🍊 (@PottsnPans75) July 19, 2022
Some consumers have defenced Tesco, with one person describing self scan as “the best invention in grocery shopping”.
Self scan is the best invention in grocery shopping. The staff are still there, out in the store picking shelves for the lazy who have home deliveries. #BringBackTescoStaff
— AJD_1975 (@AJD_1975) July 19, 2022
Grocery and retail consultant Steve Dresser also weighed in on the debate, saying that any increases in self service are “because the numbers justify it”, adding that “customers drive the bus”.
I do not understand #BringBackTescoStaff – increases in self service are because the numbers justify it.
There have been times where too many are installed and then are removed.
If you see a colleague; go to their checkout rather than self service.
Customers drive the bus.
— Steve Dresser (@dresserman) July 19, 2022