back to article Tesco tills go titsup

Tesco's nationwide till system failed this morning, leaving the country's biggest retailer able to sell only via self-service checkouts. Managers closed some stores in response to the glitch. A spokesman for the firm confirmed it was suffering IT problems, and was investigating. According to reader reports, the problems …

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  1. TrixyB
    Coat

    Barcode Battler!

    Mine's the one with the price gun in the pocket!

  2. Test Man
    Stop

    Till failure - manual system?

    Do they not rely on a manual system? When I worked in Sainsburys more than a decade ago, we were taught that if there was a catastrophic failure, then we're to simply rely on a paper, pen, calculator and the goodwill of the customer (when recalling prices).

  3. Colin
    Stop

    Code 10

    "Would all customers please make their way to the checkouts"

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    No Cash

    Strangely, they were accepting cards but not cash this morning.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (untitled)

    What a ridiculous situation that the system is so fault intolerant that a single glitch can take out the tills over the whole country ! Surely even a primary school kid would design it to carry on locally if a national problem occurred. Who do they get to design things these days? Kindergarten?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    err..

    "What a ridiculous situation that the system is so fault intolerant that a single glitch can take out the tills over the whole country ! Surely even a primary school kid would design it to carry on locally if a national problem occurred. Who do they get to design things these days? Kindergarten?""

    Asuming your a troll here because the fact that it working for the self service tills means that its highly likely to be currently on a local only system and will get batch updated at the end of the day.

  7. Wize

    I thought the till system was the same on both self service and normal

    just that they don't use the scales for your shopping weight and someone else pushes it across the scanner.

    I've noticed Tesco moving more and more over to self service, even on the manned tills. You have to scan your own club card and pull your receipt from the printer as well as stuffing your own card in the reader. Its like they are trying to reduce the interaction between till staff and customers, so we don't notice when they all get sacked.

  8. Elmer Phud
    IT Angle

    Value software

    Rushed out in to stores without testing?

    Another Quality product from Tesco.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Test Man

    frankly, that sounds ridiculous. Like, I suspect, the majority of people, I don't look at the price of the products I'm buying (other than to make sure they aren't ridiculously overpriced), let alone memorize it.

  10. Adam Foxton

    @err... AC

    Actually, the other AC's got a point. Tesco's not exactly a small company. I know every little helps, but skimping on redundancy when it can lead to faults on this sort of scale is ridiculous. How hard can it be to store the prices locally? Worst case scenario then is they're charging in line with the store labels rather than at the adjusted price for the day. Or their sales data doesn't get back to head office until the afternoon.

  11. Simon B
    Coat

    Vista downgrade overnight?

    Did they downgrade to Vista????

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Another spectacular windows crash

    HAHA

  13. greenmantle
    Paris Hilton

    Classic...

    "According to PA, about 100 stores are affected, and the problems are being rectified by rebooting the checkouts."

    Absolute IT Crowd classic: "Have you tried swtching it off and switching it on again?"

    Doh!

    Paris, because she knows how to turn things off and turn them on again (peolpe too apparently)

  14. Craig
    Happy

    All fine at my local Tesco this lunch

    And they have Frijj buy one get one free - get in!

  15. Yorkshirepudding
    Boffin

    ha ha

    have you tried turning it off and on?

    classic

  16. Craig Cockburn
    Gates Horns

    ex Tesco.com

    Funnily I applied last week for a position of project manager at Tesco.com. They turned me down, evidently my experience project managing tesco.com grocery previously didn't seem to count.

    Maybe they should have given me the job instead, looks like their existing practices have a few faults. I have a strong background in system testing.

    Tesco? Hello?

    http://www.linkedin.com/in/siliconglen

  17. Jon

    Turn it off and on again

    So the fault is fixed by rebooting the tills. Surely managers should have tried turning the tills on and off again before closing....

  18. Ian Hill

    shades of the IT crowd

    "Have you tried turning it off and on again?"

  19. hey_may
    Paris Hilton

    @Wize

    What on earth is a "club card"?

    Some sort of spyware?

  20. Britt Johnston
    Alert

    titsup?

    That's Regspeak for running out of cash...

  21. David Hicks
    Happy

    I'll be watching this carefully...

    ...having written some of their POS stuff a few years back. I wonder if it's my old product that's gone bang?

    Am available for (very) expensive consultancy :)

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Depends what needs rebooting

    >> So the fault is fixed by rebooting the tills. Surely managers should have tried turning the tills on and off again before closing...

    Depends whether you mean rebooting the actual till hardware, or the virtual machine instance that runs in the back office. From what I recall of my stint at Tesco, the tills are thin clients (quite heavy old thin clients). So it may have been the VM instance that needed rebooting, or the VM server, or the thin client. I imagine the store managers probably only have access to reboot the VM instance - this is probably the only bit that runs Windows and is most likely to crash.

  23. Dave Bell

    Timing...

    One thought: do the tills have to somehow establish a secure connection with a central server system when they start up?

    Do the self-service tills wait longer before they time-out?

  24. Sly
    Coat

    Reboot?

    must have been a windows problem.

    /mines the one with the penguin patch on the shoulder

  25. James Pickett

    Nightly

    "common practice .. to roll out major software changes overnight on Sunday"

    I suppose it hasn't occurred to them that they would risk losing less business if they rolled them out on a Saturday night. Not that I want them to lose less business...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And to think ...

    Whaqui Jaqui was suggesting that Tesco, Boots, Asda, et al could maybe help out with the ID Card rollout?

    Ha. If _only_ gov.it _was_ as generally reliable as supermarket till systems ...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    At long last...

    The migration to SAP is done, at last! Oh wait, what's this?

  28. wildmonkeyuk
    Paris Hilton

    frijj on offer @ CRAIG

    Yeah, I got 12 bottles on Saturday night of the chocco fudgecake ( 12 paid for, 24 taken home)

    What's shocking is these were 79p only a few months ago and now they're upto £1.05 per bottle (BOGOF)

    Paris... Well I bet she's not had to pay any more to get her supply of milky goodness.

  29. Mat
    Gates Horns

    Doesn't Surprise Me

    When i was working on the tills there they we're old pc's running windows 98, was half way through serving a customer once and it quits to desktop!!

    Bill coz it's windows fault.

  30. RW
    Black Helicopters

    @ hey_may re "club card"

    hey_may: "What on earth is a "club card"? Some sort of spyware?"

    That's as good a description as any. You sign up for a "club card" and get special discounts. AFAICT, it's a way to get around privacy laws and keep track of your purchases for some inane reason or other dreamt up by the marketing wonks.

    I have one or two of these club cards, notably Safeway's because they sell a superior brand of bottled salsa and an excellent grade of barley flour available nowhere else, but for everything else I go to a different store with faster checkout lines and lower prices. Fat lot of good *my* club card does any marketing campaign!

    Friends concerned with privacy refuse on general principles to patronize stores using such cards, but I've pointed out to them that when you sign up, there's no checking of ID so you can get a new one each time you shop, complete with new fictitious name and phone number.

    "Club cards" are just another pimple on the ass of marketing's obscene desire to know everything about you so they can sell you more crap. Or, more accurately, *try* to sell you more crap.

    Interestingly, my Safeway card has never once resulted in any communication from that august firm to me.

    Salsa and barley flour only?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC 12:05

    I work with a former UNIX contractor for Tesco, they may use Windows for the actual checkout, but I'm pretty sure they use AIX for the local machines which serve them. It is unlikely a client problem if they all died, more likely a server side problem.

    I have also been fairly reliably informed that Tesco sweat their assets heavily, it's not uncommon for them to use out of support hardware and software in their stores. (or it wasn't when afore mentioned UNIX guy worked there...)

    AC because I don't want to get on Tesco's bad side...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Craig Cockburn

    heh, your name is Craig Cockburn

    (sorry, someone had to say it - blame the parents)

  33. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Still not working

    When I went to one of the biggest Tesco's in the country this evening, so it looks like it might be something more complicated than flicking the power switch.

    Isn't today the day they were planning a huge new relaunch of their Clubcard loyalty scheme? So that's worked out about as well as a Gordon Brown relaunch.

  34. Paul

    Duh!

    "suppose it hasn't occurred to them that they would risk losing less business if they rolled them out on a Saturday night. Not that I want them to lose less business..."

    Possibly something to so with Sunday being a much much busier shopping day at Tesco's than Monday??

  35. Greg Adams

    @RW

    There's still Safeway's around? They disappeared around here.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old Tech

    Only so long Tesco can keep running Windows NT on their tills. There must come a point they upgrade to the 21st century and give their entire IT system the overhaul it needs. It's currently a mix of all sorts, Windows and Unix alike with nothing properly integrated.

  37. Dr. Mouse

    ASDA

    I remember this happening more than once at ASDA when I worked there (10+ yrs ago).

    If the tills went down, the policy was for all managers in the store to man a checkout, and "estimate" the value of the goods in each trolley, just to keep things moving. They considered it worse for business to close the store and waste all their customers time than to loose money by undervaluing the goods. Worked well, although it took longer than normal if at a busy time (due to there being less managers than checkout operators), it helped keep things moving, and kept the customers goodwill.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    RE: Club Card

    Personally I have every loyalty card going - you can't get more loyal than that!

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