Co-op and Morrisons are investigating an IT glitch that created problems for contactless card payments in stores with some customers warning of double payments.
The major supermarket chains are to carry out a probe in conjunction with their payments processing provider ACI as consumer groups call for ministerial intervention as concerns grow about the ability to use cash.
Queues were reported outside some of the Co-op’s convenience stores from Sunday amid the snow, with some shoppers asked to use cash.
Shoppers reported that they were able to use cash, but some had to run out to cash machines while at the supermarket’s checkout in freezing weather.
Issues were encountered at Morrisons in areas ranging from Scotland to Cornwall.
ACI, which provides real-time payments processing for the retailers, said: “We are working closely with the IT teams at our partners to resolve the problem as quickly as possible. We apologise to shoppers for any inconvenience caused.”
Both Morrisons and Co-op have said that the issues have now been overcome.
One Scot raised an issue with the Co-op that people could end up paying double.
Scott Baird said: “Anyone using the Rothesay Bridge Street branch if your card has been declined in-store double check you bank as its being taken from your account, just not been cleared at the machine which means your paying double.”
Another said: “If anyone has been to Morrisons and the card machines were playing up with one payment being declined and 2nd payment going through, I’d advise you to check your banking as even though my first transaction was declined, money has still being taken out of my account for both transactions. Good job I didn’t spend a fortune.”
The Co-op responded to complaints on Sunday saying: “Our payment processing provider is working to correct an intermittent issue which has prevented a very small number of customer transactions from being processed. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
It comes a week after the revealed that over 2m Scots have been refused the right to pay with notes and coins during the pandemic, threatening the viability of the cash network.
A study by the consumer organisation Which? warned of a cash network in danger of crumbling revealing that 30 per cent of Scots reported being unable to pay with cash at least once when trying to buy something since March, when coronavirus restrictions were first introduced.
Gareth Shaw, head of money with the consumer organisation Which? said the current payment issues shows the government has to intervene.
“This was a concerning situation for shoppers and reinforces why cash is such a vital back-up when technology fails – even for those who prefer to use digital payments,” he said.
“A reduction in retailers accepting cash during the pandemic has combined with widespread bank branch and cash machine closures to push the UK’s already fragile cash system even closer to the brink of collapse.
“To avoid cutting off millions of people from their preferred payment method, the government must urgently introduce the legislation promised in last year’s budget and the industry must commit to supporting the existing cash network until a new system is in place.”
The survey further revealed that despite the lockdown affecting use of cash machines, around one in 25 across in Scotland said they were still relying on cash, which would equate 220,000. Some 14 per cent, equivalent to over 760,000 in Scotland, also said they would struggle without it.
The Co-op said that all card transactions were now being processed as usual and that their payment process partner is investigating after experiencing an intermittent issue.
“We would like to apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused during that time,” said a spokesman.
Shadow economic secretary to the Treasury Pat McFadden said: “This shows the dangers of letting the cash network just wither away as use declines.
“The government promised legislation to secure nationwide access to cash a year ago. It hasn’t been brought forward.”