It is every last-minute Christmas shopper’s nightmare.
You have found the perfect gift with just hours to spare, but your bank card won’t work at the checkout. And you are not the only one…
This was the fate of millions on Monday as Belgium’s card payment network crashed on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
And as stores urged shoppers to pay with cash instead, those without the ready money faced a long and frustrating wait.
“Customers are impatient. We are trying to help those with cash but the rest must wait,” said one checkout assistant at the sharp end of an endless queue.
“For me it was blocked, then it worked. You need patience,” said one philosophical customer.
Many stood in line at cash machines to try to pay the old-fashioned way and for hours the panic continued.
It is not known what went wrong. But with small shops least able to cope with the technical turmoil, their turnover is said to have suffered a festive free fall.