Meltdown left Asda shoppers unable to pay

We are all quick to moan like mad when PayPal falls over or an eBay glitch prevents buyers from completing purchases. Life could be worse though, this Sunday a glitch stopped all 626 Asda stores from taking card payments and they had to deal directly with hordes of irate customers trying to do their monthly shop.

Many consumers will have been paid this weekend and when you get to the checkout and find the assistant is unable to process your card mayhem ensues. Some Asda stores such as the Reading branch shut for several hours, but this in itself caused further chaos as queues meant shoppers were trapped in the car park.

Cash is being used less and less in today’s society, but for larger purchases, which includes your shopping trolley’s two hundred quids worth of groceries, cash is practically unheard of. When card technology breaks there doesn’t appear to be any back up systems in place, for Asda it was time for the old paper duplicate credit card slips and a machine to manually imprint your card details. Today’s back up for Chip and Pin is a card swipe, but when neither works the proverbial muck is going to hit the fan.

With Black Friday just a month away, it’s critical that retailers and bank’s payment systems are robust. Too often we hear of a Bank failing to process cards and whilst it’s pretty much a first for Asda to have a payments failure, they are owned by Walmart, the largest retailer in the world.

There has been some speculation that the glitch was due to the clocks going back to GMT as BST ended last night. It seems unlikely that this would be the cause although no other explanation has been forthcoming so far.

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Just common sense to carry a few hundred in cash for situations like this.

Peter King • 30th October 2016 •