CHS Pics | The new ‘selfie’-checkouts at the Broadway Market QFC

There is a new terror of modern life at the Broadway Market QFC: a clear, digital view of your own face.

The self-serve checkout kiosks at the Kroger Co. super market chain’s northern Broadway outlet recently began featuring new screens that display a live, full frontal view of each shopper as they go about the grim business of scanning and paying for their items.

“Recording in progress,” they promise.

It’s not pretty. And it’s not really that much different than what is going on in most modern retail environments where security cameras cover most every customer move.

“The updated camera technology found at several of our QFC locations functions no differently than the existing security cameras already in use at all of our stores,” a spokesperson for Kroger’s Washington region tells CHS. “They are simply an evolution of our current and existing strategy.”

But there is something new about the in-your-face view of the surveillance. And privacy advocates and technology types will no doubt note the opportunity for facial recognition technology — and more? — to be used in the future though Kroger didn’t say anything about that type of effort in its brief statement on the new screens.

For now, after watching Capitol Hill shoppers do their thing in front of the new cameras, CHS has only one bit of advice: maybe smile?


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46 thoughts on “CHS Pics | The new ‘selfie’-checkouts at the Broadway Market QFC

  1. I wish they cared as much for customer safety as they care about preventing product loss. The narrow exit at the Harvard Market QFC is a firetrap waiting to happen.

    For customer safety and convenience they should re-open the Harvard Avenue entrances of both QFCs for customers’ convenience AND safety. But I don’t expect that to be a top concern for a corporation whose top executives are Trump supporters.

    • Well I’d worry a little more about preventing product loss because otherwise that store will close. Its clearly out of hand and they’ve tried just about everything to minimize it. The complete ignorance of common sense in this city from the extreme left blaming businesses for wanting to make money while also worshipping criminals is truly stunning.

      • I don’t see anyone here worshipping criminals.

        Why not have both safety and loss prevention? Before going to caneras, couldn’t they have tried hiring better/higher-rate security guards that aren’t bottom of the bottom reject mall cops? Maybe at least one whose eyes aren’t as glazed over as the donuts in the bakery section they often seem to be staring at.

        The point is that if the current security overall is terrible, perhaps they should also be replaced.

  2. There isn’t a camera at any of the manned checkstands, other than the usual overhead ones, so I won’t be using the self-checkout any longer. I hate this store; the endless choke-points, multiple levels, and the closure of the rear door have made it so hideous to try and get in and out efficiently. May have to start hauling myself up to the 15th Ave Safeway.

    • Yeah, but the 15th ave Safeway has horrible self checkouts, very few open human operated registers, and only occasionally someone at the self checkout stations to fix the stupid scanners. The Safeway on Madison, same thing except they are almost always better staffed. For all their faults QFC has better service.

      • I agree, every time I go to Safeway there’s always a horrible line at every checkout stand. QFC definitely offers a better overall experience – better stocked, marginally better prices, more staff.

        They’ve got to do something about the dogs, though. A couple of weeks ago I witnessed a fight between two large german shepherds, one of them off-leash, near the self-checkout in the Broadway Market store. Anyone standing nearby could have been seriously injured, especially a small child (or a bona fide service animal). The same guy owned both of them and rather than trying to corral his out-of-control animals he started cursing and arguging loudly at a bystander who made a rather innocuous comment. A uniformed guard was standing nearby but did nothing. This insanity has to stop. There is no valid reason for anyone to bring a non-service animal into a grocery store.

    • Or, these stores could operate in an environment where theft isn’t tolerated and the city attorney understands it costs all of us a tremendous amount of money when petty theft is legalized.

      • Find one single solitary case where a person was put in jail in King County for a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and so on for a petty theft. you will not find one. If you give me a single case where a person shoplifts and there are not a dozen or so priors, then I will buy you dinner at Jai Thai. Its punishable to up to a year, just like every gross misdemeanor. Doesn’t mean people get it. Ever

    • Whether a petty thief in Seattle is getting a year in jail wasn’t what I focused on. You focused on the cost of letting a petty thief walk and said you want to see tougher sentences. I pointed out keeping a petty thief in jail for a year also costs everyone a lot of money. Jail doesn’t run for free.

      • What? Who said I was a republican? Even if I was… Republicans don’t mind taxes anyway, just excessive taxation. We need to come back to the middle.

      • Nobody said you were a Republican. JFC, people on this blog love to put words in your mouth and jump to conclusions unsubstantiated by facts. Whether that strikes close to home or not, you figure it out. I pointed out that wanting tough jail sentences but not wanting the taxes to pay for it is the classic Republican dilemma. And it is. What Tom said is also very true. Keeping someone in jail for a year isn’t cheap. Which is why you don’t see more people locked up for petty offenses.

  3. Seriously? I’m done! I will drive to Trader Joe’s, I will shop at the new Whole Foods!!

    I live near this store and the last time I shopped here, only one regular checker working, and no one to assist bagging. So there were 20 people in the self-check lines — all being completely ignored by the three people assigned to those checkouts — and people who waited forever in the only line with the only single, totally harried overworked person actual waiting on customers. I felt so bad, I tipped her.

    I’m sick of how cheap Kroger has become with this store when it’s one of their largest and most profitable locations. Why are they trying to aggressively to drive away customers?

  4. As a former employee, I can tell you that Kroger corp and the in-store management staff could care less about this local community. Google their relations POC, the homeless, and their own employee unions.

    Ever wonder why all their managers white? If the liberals who shop there only knew…

  5. I’m wondering if all you people wetting your pants about selfies at the grocery store ever stopped to think that you’re filmed or photographed every time you use an ATM? Or go to the airport. Or probably pump your gas, walk into practically any other store, enter a federal building, or walk past a gazillion other stores on the sidewalk, or even enter your workplace. Oh, and you think Trader Joe’s won’t film you? Or AmazonFoods aka Whole Foods isn’t filming you? Ha! Amazon, who own Amazon Web Services, the #1 market share in Cloud Computing? They sell facial recognition software and probably already know exactly who you are. They know what you had for f**king breakfast. The only difference is QFC is putting it right in front of you, where you see it, and you’re all crapping your panties. That ship has sailed, people, long before QFC took selfies of you and your ramen noodles. If this is what you think is a problem, you obviously don’t have any real problems.

    • You are wetting your pants thinking about the people who don’t like this are wetting theirs.

      Just because government and companies can do whatever they want doesn’t mean people have to like it and not do or say anything. My wetting my pants goes as far as commenting here. I will still shop there because it has the best deals. But I hope whatever they think these cameras can accomplish will fail.

      • I have to laugh because you all gave up your privacy the second you signed up to Facebook or got your phone and turned it on, gave them your name, your picture and the picture of all your family and friends…. willingly!

        Anytime you walk outside your being caught on camera

        and If you don’t think the NSA has your cock shots your fooling yourself! :)

        And you complain that qfc is filming you shopping?

      • Jeff, like someone said below, I am sure you have a line you don’t want to be crossed.

        I never provided real information when I signed up for a social media account.

    • How many of the security cameras in stores and city streets record a super close-up view of your face from every angle in every encounter? Anyone who has set up Face-ID on their iPhone knows how quickly a camera placed at this proximity can assemble enough data to accurately identify you. While the QFC cameras don’t appear to be using infrared to acquire 3D data as iPhones do, they don’t need to…a simple $35 microcomputer could easily assemble this data into a 3D representation of your face. If you’re not concerned about privacy, I’m not going to convince you why this is a very bad direction. But do you agree that collecting this image data is on a different scale than a 2-second, full-body video of you boarding a bus?

    • Do you ride Metro buses? Have you noticed the ruler on the vertical bar on the left as you enter? That was installed to measure your height by video, in case Metro and the police need help identifying you later.

      • Sure, but everyone has a different limit. Subtle security measures like that are one thing, obvious over the top cameras with screens that flash “RECORDING IN PROGRESS” are another. Metro cameras also help protect the security of all riders. Cameras on *individual* checkstands are purely for loss prevention (unlike overhead cameras).

        People have different limits. Personally, cameras on every checkstand would have been completely fine with me, but the “you dirty criminal”-esque screens on them are not.

        I’m sure even you have a limit. Not saying they would ever go this far, but if it was necessary to start patting people down as they left the store, would you still shop there? If everyone had an individual security guard assigned to follow you around the store, would you still shop there? You must have *some* limit, and clearly this has hit or come close to the limit for a lot of people or we wouldn’t be discussing it.

  6. I’m old school, and refuse to use the self-checkout kiosks, because they are 1) impersonal and dehumanizing; 2) a cause of job loss for checkers.

    This QFC is a very poorly-run store with multiple things to complain about, not the least of which is the tolerance of “service dogs” (ha,ha) in the place almost always. I was hopeful that the new Whole Foods would be a good alternative, but its layout is kind of a mess too.

    • I like to pack my own groceries. Most checkout employees don’t have a clue. That’s why I prefer self checkout. You can spend a little more time and pack a well balanced sack.

    • When they first installed self check kiosks at the Safeway I asked the employees what they though about them and if they were concerned about less staffing. They said no – the self checks were actually causing them to hire at least 2 more people…. automation isn’t always more efficient apparently.

  7. If only there was a local grocery store, owned by the shoppers that patronize it that actually cared about its customers, the planet, and its employes…oh yeah, the Madison co-op!

    And to preemptively head off the inevitable critisim that it’s more expensive than kroger et. al. if you are buying the organic or sustainable products from the big box stores, I’ve actually found the co-op is typically cheaper, and a much more pleasant shopping experience.

    • Years of poor customer service turned me off the co-op. In a perfect world, PCC would take over the Co-op and then it would be a good grocery store. Maybe it’s improved, I haven’t been in a few years.

      • I don’t know how it was more than 5 years ago, but since I’ve started doing my family’s grocery shopping in the last year or so, it’s been fantastic. The workers are helpful almost to the point of being ridiculous and the checkout lines are never long.

        You should give it a new try. I’m a huge fan, and I’m reminded how much I like the place every time I make the mistake of wandering into a Safeway, or other corporate grocery store.

      • Yeah, as someone who felt the same way, the staff there have actually been surprisingly nice for the last 2-3 years. Threw me for a loop since I had stopped going due to their crabbiness 4-5 years ago.

        I still wish their prices were more competitive on the essentials, but being a block from Trader Joe’s makes it easy to go to both, stay reasonable on costs, and yes have a pleasant experience.

    • You can have opinions about animals that should not be there, but it is basically impossible to know via legal inquiry:

      When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.

      A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.


      • I think your information about the ADA guidelines is accurate. However, it is my impression that the managers at the Broadway Market QFC rarely, if ever, ask those two questions that you cite. If they did, it would put people with non-service animals on notice, and would discourage them from bringing their pets into the store (of course, they could always lie in their responses to the questions). Instead, the managers turn a blind eye and pretend that the problem does not exist. How else to explain why that store has such an obvious tolerance and thus a rampant problem, when other similar stores do not?

      • P.S. The limitations on removing an animal apply to a true service animal….they would not apply if the dog is not a service animal, as determined by asking the two questions.

    • Yes, Bob, but basically the store can’t challenge anyone to prove it. They can’t legally disprove anyone if they somehow knew they were not telling the truth. And someone who would flout the service animal law would probably know that. So why would the store bother asking? Everyone with a dog in the store knows there are no teeth in the enforcement. It won’t put anyone on notice. They don’t care.

      • Why ask? Because at least some people would be embarrassed to lie, and if they did they would at least think twice about bringing their dog next time. Personally I’d be happy if store personnel just asked the first question, “Is that a service animal?” If the customer says yes, AND the dog is well-behaved (in the manner that one would reasonably expect from a trained service animal), then OK, let it go, but at least put people on the spot. That would greatly lessen the problem if the store just started asking about every dog, every time.

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