First world problems

Tom Hunt and Jo Moir report on the fact some shoppers were having difficulty getting rid of all the money they have while poverty pervades their lives

Retailers were fuming after a Vodafone glitch shut down eftpos for hours on the busiest shopping day of the year.

A broadband server problem with Vodafone crashed eftpos at some Lower Hutt shops from about 10.30am yesterday, with some experiencing problems through till late afternoon.

Many shops, including a number in the packed Westfield Queensgate Shopping Centre, were unable to process transactions because of the outage.

At clothing store Meccano in the shopping centre, shoppers walked out in frustration – taking their money with them, manager Charlene Roughton said.

The crash occurred at the busiest time on the busiest shopping day, with lines outside cash machines growing as the problem dragged on.

“We had a lot of people come in with Meccano cards and Westfield cards that they wanted to spend and simply couldn’t,” she said.

“It’s generally the busiest day of the year for us and was made even worse by happening at the worst time.”

People are going hungry. ?Children are without shoes. ?The very fabric of society is tearing apart… ?

While the glitch may have frustrated some customers and retailers, thousands still flocked to Westfield Queensgate and other shopping destinations around the country yesterday. Paymark, which processes about three-quarters of electronic payment transactions in the country, will release Boxing Day transaction figures today but there are already predictions of record spending.

Last year on Boxing Day, spending was up 13.4 per cent – or $14.2 million – compared to the previous year, and pre-Christmas spending this year broke records.

More than two million transactions, worth a total of $120m, were processed by Paymark last Boxing Day.

Sales and marketing head of Paymark, Paul Whiston, said the increase was the first double-digit increase for Boxing Day in five years.

Megan Annear was stocking up at the Westfield mall before heading to the Rhythm and Vines New Year’s Eve festival near Gisborne. After three hours, she had managed to buy gumboots in preparation for a potentially wet festival. “This is hell. I’m only here because I have to be,” she said.

That’s it. ?Declare a state of emergency, implement martial law, and let’s get this country back under control.