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'Ruined My Christmas': Fury As Shoppers Turned Away In Supermarket Gift Card Bungle

Frustrated and embarrassed customers have been turned away from using gift cards to pay for their Christmas shopping in a bungle that affected some of the country's biggest retailers. 

Reports of the bungle -- affecting the gift card systems of both the Coles Group & Myer, and the Woolworths Group -- began to surface on social media about midday on Christmas Eve.

Shoppers claimed they had reached checkouts at the major supermarkets, as well as Kmart stores, across the country only to be told gift cards weren't being accepted.

People spoke of their embarrassment and anger, as their plans to buy last-minute Christmas items and food were dashed by the system failure.

Spokespersons for both retail giants confirmed to 10 daily a "technical issue" affected their gift card systems on Monday, which they claimed had since been resolved.

"Our third-party gift card provider has advised it experienced technical difficulties this morning at a number of retailers meaning some customers were unable to redeem our gift cards and flybuys dollars at the time they needed to," a Coles spokesperson said.

"We understand this is frustrating and we sincerely apologise to any customers who may have been affected."

Woolworths provided a similar statement to 10 daily, saying "our third-party gift card provider has advised they've had technical difficulties processing payments for a number of retailers today".

"We've been working closely with them to rectify the issue at Woolworths and can confirm our gift cards are now being processed in our stores once again."

The spokesperson added all other forms of payment were running at the time of the outages.

The extent of the issue is yet to be confirmed, though reports suggest it was national.

Queensland shopper Jade tried to use a Coles Myer gift card at a Coles store in Burleigh Heads when she ran into issues at the self service checkout.

"As soon as I put my pin in for the gift card it came up with an error," she told 10 daily.

"I called the cashier over and she said,  'sorry we are having issues with some gift cards. You’ll have to pay another way'.

"She wasn’t apologetic or sympathetic about putting me in a very embarrassing situation -- she just started taking my groceries away."

Jade said she was among those who relied on donated gift cards to buy what they need over Christmas.

"I don’t have any money right now and had attempted to purchase baking supplies so I could give gift of cookies, instead of nothing at all," she said.

"This has greatly ruined my Christmas."

"Not only was I publicly embarrassed at the check out on Christmas Eve, I am now going to feel embarrassed and full of shame that I can’t contribute basic items to a lunch."

Victorian Jan Dandridge also had her gift card rejected at a store in the suburb of Lynbrook, but acknowledged staff were apologetic.

"She (the staff member) was very embarrassed and said it had been happening to customers all day," she told 10 daily.

"I said it wasn't her fault, but now my family wouldn't have a Christmas meal, as I don't have any money to buy it with."

Another shopper detailed  a similar experience with a gift card at a Woolworths store in Mount Hutton, NSW.

"Can't believe that on Christmas Eve, doing the Christmas food shopping at Woolworths that my gift card can't be used!," the woman wrote on Facebook.

"I buy my grocery money every month by gift card ...  But now... I have had to use the dollars put aside for Christmas activities/Xmas stocking pressies for groceries and have a gift card I can't use.

"Not good enough Woolworths!"

Coles Group & Myer gift cards can be used at participating stores including Kmart, Myer, Target and Vintage Cellars.

10 daily has reached out to Kmart for comment.

Contact the author ebrancatisano@networkten.com.au

Featured image: AAP