Marginalised People Are At Risk From Woolworths’ New Cashless Policy
Prohibiting customers from using cash will make buying essential items harder for sex workers, homeless Australians, and precarious workers.
Back in July, Woolworths revealed that six of its Metro stores across Sydney and Melbourne would go completely cashless. These stores would not provide options for customers to pay with cash, only card.
Woolworths has 1,050 stores Australia-wide. 99.4% of them still offer a mix of cash and electronic payments. Stores trialling cashless policies included Woolworths at Yarraville and Caulfield North in Victoria and Rosebery in New South Wales.
This + Cashless Welfare card (which are already more susceptible to outages than regular debit/credit cards) = class oppression
— Lenny (@BubbleNek) January 17, 2021
However, the trials have raised vital quite concerns for customers who, for various reasons, may not be able to pay electronically. Encouraging people to go cashless isn’t necessarily wrong. But prohibiting customers from using cash will make buying essential items harder for sex workers, homeless Australians, and precarious workers.
Hey @woolworths, totally applaud and welcome existing measures to minimise use of cash for public health and safety.
— Benjamin Law 羅旭能 (@mrbenjaminlaw) January 17, 2021
The change in policy is being promoted under the guise of hygiene. While hygiene and germ transmission is a concern in a pandemic, it’s not an excuse to throw marginalised workers under the bus.
Beneath the universal concern for hygiene is another more sinister motive for the policy involving digital privacy. Switching to exclusively cashless payments makes it easier for cooperations to collect data on what we buy, where we buy and who we buy for. This may seem innocuous, but it is data about your personal purchases that could be sold onto advertisers and even law enforcement without your consent.
#Woolworths Springhill Brisbane no longer customer friendly. Only one cash register- rest credit card only. Originally COVID induced but management found much easier to manage so got rid of cash registers. #shameonWoolworths pic.twitter.com/SURASfgEjL
— Wendy Moyle☘️ (@WendyMoyle2) January 13, 2021
Purchasing essentials will be more difficult for those who primarily use cash and change. But the removal of cash as payment would make it more difficult for purchases to remain anonymous. This can especially affect people surviving abuse, and those already at risk of predictive policing.
A Woolworths spokesperson told Business Insider, “We understand cash remains an important payment option for many of our customers and it continues to be offered in all Woolworths Supermarkets and the majority of our Metro stores.”
Oh this is not OK. I’ve had times in my life where I’ve had $0 in the bank account and have had to collect loose change to pay for the essentials
— Laura Geoghegan (@LauraJDragon) January 17, 2021
Merryana Salem is a proud Wonnarua and Lebanese–Australian critic, teacher, researcher and podcaster on most social media as @akajustmerry. If you want, check out her podcast, GayV Club where she gushes about LGBT rep in media with her best friend. Either way, she hopes you ate something nice today.