Asda is refusing to divulge what caused the catastrophic checkout meltdown

Asda stores suffered a Halloween nightmare yesterday after a national failure of the retailer’s card payment system caused huge delays for customers at the checkouts.

The meltdown, which struck all 626 Asda stores, led to long queues at the till as staff were forced to try to ferry customers to cash machines to find an alternative way to pay.

No card payments were able to be processed for the duration of the technical fault, with some stores affected for many hours yesterday, during one of the busiest weekends of trading in the year so far.

Asda said the system was back up and running properly today, having come back on in stages yesterday afternoon as its IT experts desperately fought to get the system back online.

It issued an apology to customers and praised the way staff had reacted to try to help, however it refused to divulge what had caused the problem.

“In many cases there were cash machines nearby and staff were helping customers get to them to pay by cash,” said an Asda spokeswomen.

“Unfortunately because of the technical fault we were unable to accept any form of card payment. We have apologised to shoppers for the disruption and we would like to praise the way our staff reacted.

“We can assure everyone that the system is back up and running today.”

However, the retailer faced a big backlash from customers stuck in the chaos.

Becky White had an extra 45 minutes added to her shop in Norwich because of the broken system.

“The doors are shut and people were shouting outside,” she told the BBC. “The car park is rammed.”

Josh Williams was also stuck at the tills at his local Asda in Reading, Berkshire.

“We were waiting for about 50 minutes,” he said. “People weren’t too pleased. Now we have been told to leave because they can’t fix the system.”

Hull shopper Darren Dalby posted on Twitter: “@Asda Bilton: All self serve tills down. No chip and pin. Cash only on all tills. It’s the 70s all over again. I’m off to @Morrisons.”

Jim Bentley tweeted: “No backup, no redundancy system. We’re just stood here like cattle waiting for your systems to start working again.”