Sainsburys customers are complaining about creepy CCTV screens being placed above self-service checkouts at hundreds of the companys stores.
The supermarket giant insisted the screens, which show peoplea live feed of themselves as they pay for their produce, were in place to keep customers and colleagues safe.
But shopperssaid theywere intrusive and Orwellian, with some claimingkey pads wereclearly exposed if they were to enter their pin numbers.
Civil liberties campaigners called on Sainsburys to ditch the surveillance screens, which were branded a gross intrusion of privacy and a blatant attempt to intimidate customers.
One Sainsburys 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 theres also the fear they will be storing your data.
She added: I shant be using their self-service machines ever again. I felt violated.
Another shopper, Alex Durham, said he encountered the screens at an outlet in Fitzrovia, London. The 27-year-old filmmaker said: It struck me as bizarre really. I dont want to seem all tinfoil hat, but it just seemed a little bit Orwellian.
Its a bit bizarre just to be looking at your face while youre doing something, because it really feels like someone is over your shoulder while youre just getting a packet of crisps and a coke.
It just felt a little bit strange.
After asking Sainsburys about the cameras, he was told they were to help facilitate a better customer journey.
Other customerscomplained onsocial media to the supermarket. One said ascreenclearly showed the pin machine, while another posted an image showing a Sainsburys monitor displaying akeypad.
Whats up with recording customers entering their PINs at the self-checkout? Gabriel Currie asked.
Complainingto Sainsburys, Chloe Heatlie said: Its pretty creepy to be frank with you. Certainly didnt benefit my customer experience.
Multiplesocial media users vowed to boycott the machines, and even Sainsburys itself, untilthe screens wereremoved.
A Sainsburys spokesperson saidthe cameras were part of a security measure to increase safety at its stores.
The safety of our customers and colleagues is really important to us so we have invested in a range of measures to keep everyone safe, and this is essentially anexample of that, she said.
When asked how the move would benefit customer safety, Sainsburys said it could not go into specifics.
But it is understood one reason for the installation of the CCTV cameras is to crack down on the number of shoppers stealing low-value items. The screens act as a deterrent to customers by making them more aware they are being watched.
Silkie Carlo, director of civil liberties watchdogBig Brother Watch, said: Sainsburys new self-surveillance screens are a gross intrusion of shoppers privacy, broadcasting the contents of our wallets and baskets.
These new cameras are a blatant attempt to intimidate customers and make us feel more closely watched than ever.
It is absolutely disgusting for Sainsburys to treat its loyal customers like criminals, especially as it is now nigh on impossible to get a human checkout. Big Brother Watch calls on Sainsburys to remove these surveillance screens urgently.
Sainsburys said it had installed the cameras at more than 300 stores, but refused to sayif theywould be rolled out to its remaining 1,100 outlets orwhether the monitors wereprovingan effective deterrent.
The supermarket said footage from its self-facing cameras, some of which were installedlast year, were kept for 31 days before being overridden.
According to a recent study, 3.2bn worth of goods is stolen from UK self-service tills every year.