Shoppers computer crash causes customer confusion and frustration

Shoppers Drug Mart is experiencing intermittent computer system outages in stores across Canada. The glitch is preventing customers from paying with debit or getting prescriptions filled at some locations.

Nationwide glitch is affecting both prescriptions and transactions at stores

Shoppers Drug Mart said its IT team is working to rectify computer problems at stores across the country. (CBC)

An intermittent computer system outage is hampering business at Shoppers Drug Mart stores across the country.

CBC News confirmed the problem with the drug store giant after receiving complaints from customers that they were having difficulty making purchases or getting their prescriptions filled.

Shoppers said that the computer glitch is hampering electronic payments. That means customers can't use their debit cards and won't receive any Optimum points on purchases today at affected stores. But it stated that people can still get their prescriptions filled at its pharmacies.

The message about prescriptions angered Tess Smith in Regina. "I'm just totally amazed," she said. 

Yesterday at about 4:30 p.m., Smith went to her local Shoppers to get a prescription filled and returned home empty-handed. She said she was the eighth person in line and that the pharmacist told everyone that they wouldn't be getting their drugs anytime soon.

"Her exact comments were, 'Our systems are down, Canada wide. We're working on it, we can't fill your prescription today, we don't know if we can fill it tomorrow. You're better off going to a competitor.'"

Smith said the news wasn't well received. "The two people in front of me were quite upset."

A Shoppers Drug Mart in Fredericton posted this sign Monday, warning customers they couldn't use debit cards. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Smith also said the problem — at least at her local Shoppers — hasn't been resolved. She called the store this afternoon and said a pharmacist told her the system is still down due to a computer upgrade that didn't work. The pharmacist also told her once again to take her prescription to another drug store. 

Smith believes Shoppers is not being up front about the problem and that will only lead to customer confusion. "If you want your customers, treat them fairly, be honest with them," she said.

Stores that can't fill prescriptions at the moment should be posting signs at the front, alerting customers before they waste time in long lineups, Smith said. 

"There was a lady in front of me on crutches and she walked all the way to the back of the store to find out," Smith said about her visit to Shoppers yesterday. "She had to walk all the way back out with nothing."

CBC News asked the retailer for comment on Smith's recent experience. "We apologize sincerely to the customer for the inconvenience. I am looking into this further and will update you when I have more information," said spokeperson Tammy Smitham in an email to CBC News. 

Shoppers operates more than 1,300 drug stores across Canada. Earlier today, Smitham said that its IT team is "working diligently" to fix the computer glitch.

"We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our customers and we hope to have the situation resolved shortly," she said.

Smitham added that once the system is restored, those who missed out on collecting their points can get them added to their accounts.

About the Author

Sophia Harris

Business reporter

Sophia Harris has worked as a CBC video journalist across the country, covering everything from the start of the annual lobster fishery in Yarmouth, N.S., to farming in Saskatchewan. She now has found a good home at the business unit in Toronto. Contact:


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