Tesco is facing heavy scrutiny today after several of its new ‘face-scanners’ were accused of delivering ‘unnecessary and offensive’ suggestions to shoppers, with one woman being advised to ‘add more low-calorie food items to her trolley’, followed by ‘every little helps, I suppose’, in a sarcastic tone.
Accountant David Croft, the first to raise a complaint about the new technology, says he was left ‘upset and offended’ after visiting his local superstore in Braintree on Sunday. ‘I grabbed a trolley, walked through the main doors, and that bloody face-scanner hacked into the tannoy system and shouted, ‘Pong Alert! Pong Alert! Fat man in the Chelsea shirt: All anti-perspirant deodorants half-price!’
Unemployed mother of four and regular Tesco shopper, Emma Hughes, was also quick to raise a complaint after visiting her local Tesco Express in Chester. ‘I’ve had a rough year, so I’m not exactly looking my best at the moment’, said the 32-year-old. ‘When I approached the till, I just heard a voice say: ‘Are you lost, love? Netto is that way. Try not to nick anything on your way out’. I was so embarrassed. And I’m pretty sure I heard it mumble ‘scrounger’ under its breath as I walked out’.
A spokesperson for Tesco said: ‘We installed the new technology with the intention of collecting small pieces of information from individual customers, which we hoped would provide us with a broader business insight into more targeted and relevant marketing campaigns. It certainly wasn’t installed to tell Sheila in our Dudley store to ‘sort her barnet out’. It seems software is deciding what customers ‘need’, rather than what they ‘want’.
Tesco have since announced they will discontinue the use of the machines with immediate effect, and the job of gossiping about shoppers’ buying habits and appearances will be given back to the checkout operatives.