Britain enters period of mourning as Greggs unable to process payments

First they came for McDonald's and I did not speak out because I have even worse taste in food

A princess is AWOL, the government refuses to admit defeat, and now pastry purveyor Greggs is unable to process card payments. How many more national crises can the Great British public weather before the streets burn?

The hungover masses on routine trips to fetch a sausage roll and/or other beige-colored "food" were stopped in their tracks this morning to find branches of the bakery chain either closed or only accepting cash payments.

A statement from the pastie pusher said simply that it is "currently experiencing issues accepting payments in our shops" and was "working to resolve this as soon as possible."

This, as you might imagine, did not go down well with regular clientele. One witness on the ground said: "Greggs this morning cash only! Sitting here with my coffee watching almost everyone have to walk out."

Images from the front line show shops with signs in the windows, saying: "Due to IT issues, we are unable to open until the issue is fixed," and "Shop will open late due to technical issues. You can order through click and collect or Uber Eats. Sorry for any inconvenience caused."

The payment system outage at Greggs comes hot on the heels of similar issues affecting a host of brands last week. On Saturday, supermarket Sainsbury's said: "Due to an error with an overnight software update, we are experiencing issues with contactless payments and will not be able to deliver the vast majority of today's Groceries Online orders. Our stores are open as usual, accepting chip and pin and cash payments."

Retailer Argos, which is owned by Sainsbury's, also said that "customers may experience issues in placing new orders and collecting orders in-store. There may also be delays in fulfilling orders placed today."

At the same time, Tesco, the UK's largest supermarket chain, was forced to cancel "a small number" of delivery orders owing to a "technical issue."

Just a day earlier, burger merchant McDonald's copped to a global outage of its payment system, which also affected UK franchises.

The fact was not lost on commentators. "I am very much not a conspiracy theorist," one claimed. "But it seems a bit fishy that McDonald's, Sainsbury's, Tesco & now Greggs have had serious payment/IT issues within one week."

Meanwhile, another said: "That's it, sign me up for the war with Russia." Continuing this conspiratorial line of inquiry, another tried to recant a prior statement suggesting: "If Putin wanted to send a real warning shot, he should've gone for Greggs."

Or maybe someone just really wants us to stop eating processed meat.

The tongue-in-cheek hysteria is a symptom of an inexplicable national fetishization of Greggs that has, to this writer's mind, appeared from nowhere. There is nothing particularly grabbing about the bakery's food, though it is certainly in line with Britain's extremely bland palette.

All the same, for some reason you can sometimes find Greggs merch at Primark. I've even seen people wearing it.

Louisa Chambers, Partner in the Technology and Commercial transactions department at law firm Travers Smith, commented: "Recent outages taking down payment processing systems at major high street retailers demonstrate very clearly how much of our day-to-day lives (and our economy) depends on the tech that underpins retail payments.

"Retailers place their trust in the providers of these services and it is critical that they ensure that contracts for the supply of these services are robust, contain strong service level commitments and meaningful consequences if those are not met. The contracts then have to be properly policed to make sure that businesses and consumers are not continually let down."

We've asked Greggs what happened to its systems this morning and will update when it responds. The difficulty in these situations is that many companies don't ever give a detailed technical breakdown of glitches. Instead, they simply say: "IT issue." ®

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