Tesco tills are expected to ring as normal in stores across Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK today after a computer glitch caused mayhem for shoppers.
A Northern Ireland spokeswoman for the supermarket giant said it could not confirm how many of its 48 stores in the region were affected by the problem, which arose at 8am yesterday.
“Most” were unaffected, she said — including a new Tesco Extra in Carrickfergus which opened yesterday.
But Tesco superstores in Antrim, Banbridge, Newtownabbey and stores in Belfast all |experienced problems and closed down some operated check-outs. Customers instead queued at self-service check-outs, which could still accept cash.
Tesco in Yorkgate, which does not have self-service tills, closed down for a short time.
At 3pm, the company said: “Nearly all the Tesco stores in Northern Ireland which were affected by today's computer glitch are now back to normal operation.
“A few stores of the stores had to shut for a period to allow their computer system to be rebooted, but most carried on, using self-service tills which were unaffected by the error. We apologise for any inconvenience.”
Yesterday morning a manager at Tesco Metro in Royal Avenue, where customers waited patiently in long queues for self-service tills, said he hoped the problem could be resolved in time for the store’s biggest ‘rush hour’ at 1pm when workers flock to the store for their sandwiches.
But it wasn’t to be, and for Royal Avenue, the problem was not fixed until around 2pm. “It was hectic in here at lunchtime,” one till |operator said.
Nonetheless, most customers were taking the problems in their stride. Bride Nugent, a mother-of-four from Suffolk, was queuing up with her baby Paul and toddler Aoibhinn. “What’s a queue when you have wee ones? I have plenty of patience,” she said.
One office worker was in a hurry to bring choc-ices and instant coffee back to her colleagues. “They’re melting back at the office,” she said.
Tesco said around 100 of its 2,184 UK supermarkets were hit by the problem and stressed only a “handful” were left unable to serve shoppers.
A spokeswoman for the company said: “Most stores were either unaffected or able to use their self scanning checkouts which were not affected by the computer glitch.
“Extra staff were allocated to these checkouts to ensure customers could continue shopping with the minimum of disruption.
“Home deliveries were unaffected and any petrol filling stations involved continued serving customers through ‘pay at pump', which is available on the vast |majority of pumps.
“The computer problem was traced to an error in a routine system upgrade sent to stores overnight.”
A spokesman refused to confirm how much the problem had cost the supermarket giant in lost business.