Computer Weekly News: "Sainsbury free-for-all as server goes down" - very juicy! : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

6 January 2000

Computer Weekly News

Sainsbury free-for-all as server goes down

Tony Collins

A Sainsbury superstore in Sussex lost thousands of pounds when it closed its doors at the height of the pre-Christmas spending spree because of a problem with servers feeding electronic point-of-sale equipment.

At first the systems slowed down and then became unusable. Check-out staff resorted to using scraps of paper to add up the cost of goods, but as queues snaked to the rear of the store in West Hove, all attempts at calculating the cost of goods were abandoned.

The store was cleared of crowds of customers and the tills were rendered non-operational before the problem was fixed. Shoppers inside the store at the time of the problems were waved through the tills with the message that they could "have it on Sainsbury."

Other shoppers were asked to estimate the value of their goods, or were given the chance to pay #10 for a trolley-load piled high with goods.

This week Sainsbury at first denied that it had closed the doors but later admitted that it had done so.

The spokeswoman insisted the problems were "nothing to do with Y2K" but declined to give further details of the causes.


-- John Whitley (, January 06, 2000


hhhmmm, that would have been a good place to have been shopping ...

-- bargain seeker (feather@bunker.stock), January 06, 2000.

It's something -- still, though, pre-Xmas. Certainly there were reports of Y2K problems during last year, but still, where's the conclusive evidence for this one? *shrug* This is either a sign if you believe it's all coming together or just a typical glitch if you don't, and never the two shall meet.

-- Ned Raggett (, January 06, 2000.

Same things happened at my local Asda store near Southampton just b4 NY, They were adding up on paper, then the following week all the order processing systems were down so they had to just put in repeat orders.

Between 4-6 January 2000 they had no milk, eggs, bread, meat it seems there staff were told not to give any reason for the shortage to customers, went to the nearby Tescos they were also short had no toilet paper and very little meat.

All ok today though, i think there are big problems in UK but it seems contingency plans are on the whole working.

-- UK Resident (, January 06, 2000.

Although it sounds odd, letting customers walk without paying (or paying whatever they think they ought to) is SOP when this happens. I missed a chance to join the fun by half an hour a couple of years ago (security weren't letting any new shoppers in).

Methinks it may be cheaper for food retailers to put up with an occasional foul-up like this, than invest in the sort of non-stop computer equipment and staff cover that would be necessary to make sure that it never happens.

Y2K? Always possible, but there's been no epidemic of such problems, which is not what you'd expect if most or all branches of the same store were running the same Y2Kbuggy software.

-- Nigel (, January 06, 2000.

As a point of interest, UK supermatkets spent millions sorting the problem out, so I wouldn't expect many problems to show up.

This begs a question (Other than the Geek cash register fiasco) - What are the supermarkets in other contries doing that have not succumbed to the Y2K repair 'hype' ?

-- Rob Somerville (, January 06, 2000.

Free food; a means of apologizing to customers for the inconvenience they have been caused. Afterall, you DO want them to return. =)

-- cin (, January 06, 2000.

How does that effect me today? Actually, not theoretically.

-- Servant (, January 07, 2000.

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