Pat McCarthy launched the campaign after visiting a store where she claims 75% of tills were self-service. She said: “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.”
Ms McCarthy has started a petition calling for more cashiers and more than 99,000 people have already signed. She claimed there were just five or six tills with cashiers in the large supermarket, meaning the queues were 30 minutes long when she recently visited.
According to Hull Live, she said: “You do need some self-service for the people who find them more convenient, but just fewer.”
A Tesco spokesperson told 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.”
Twitter hashtag #BringBackTescoStaff has been used more than 3,000 times by people sharing the petition. Simon Attwood tweeted: “If everyone that goes in to a Tesco, loads their trolley up, and find they are being directed to an automated till, just leave your full trolley at the till. It will require more staff labour to empty and re-shelve than to operate a till.”
The Dobson Family tweeted: “My own experience working in retail for 6 years was that for some of our customers, especially our more vulnerable ones, we were the only people they talked to in a week.”
Knitty42 added: “I never use self-serve tills. Invariably the bloody things find something wrong with my purchase, or my bag, or the way I’m looking at it, so I have to get staff over to fix it anyway. I don’t need my frustration levels pushed even higher by a tetchy machine.”
And Dr Angi said: “On my last visit to Tesco we had a £170 shop. We were told to go to the self check out tills! We said unless you open the check out we were leaving all this right here and will never shop here again – they opened the tills.”
Tesco is among the retailers now trialling shops that have no tills at all – using apps and scanners to charge customers for what they buy.
Adam Leyland, editor of The Grocer magazine, told the BBC: “Many shoppers still value great customer service and human interaction and technology won’t always win. So supermarkets will need to listen hard as the market evolves and cater for all needs.”