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Smyths Toys ‘shambles’ as voucher failure leaves children in tears

Many would-be shoppers only became aware system was down when vouchers were not accepted at tills

Customers of Smyths Toys have expressed anger and frustration at being unable to use the retailer’s own vouchers in stores in the post-Christmas period.

They have also criticised the retailer over its communication about the problem, with many would-be shoppers only becoming aware the voucher system was down when they were not accepted at the tills, leaving children in tears and adults dismayed.

There was ongoing confusion on Thursday afternoon as to the situation. While the toy retailer posted on its websites on the morning that the issue had been resolved. A message on the site in the afternoon suggested the problems were ongoing with customers still unable to use the vouchers in-store.

One shopper who brought his two children to the Carrickmines outlet in south Co Dublin on Wednesday he had brought their toys to the till only to be told the vouchers his children had could not be accepted, leaving them “utterly distraught”.

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He described the situation as a “shambles”.

His experience was echoed by others posting on the retailer’s Facebook, Instagram and X pages.

One described the situation as “absolutely crazy” and described how people were queuing up to buy toys with vouchers only to be told they had to either use alternate means of payment or return the toys to the shelves.

Another shopper called on the retailer to stop advertising products for sale on its platforms and alert people to the problems with its vouchers instead.

“Pandemonium, kids crying all over the store,” posted one, while another would-be customer questioned “how is it your own vouchers don’t work? Very disappointed child today who couldn’t spend their voucher today”.

Another detailed how he had brought five children to a Smyths Toys branch in Limerick with their Christmas vouchers. “They had all picked out toys only to find out the tills weren’t accepting gift cards. Absolute joke ... a little A4 printout at the till isn’t good enough.”

The problems appeared to be across the company’s outlets in both the Republic and the UK.

As late as 5pm on Wednesday, there was no reference to the voucher issues on the company’s social media platforms. However by Thursday afternoon the company had issued three separate updates on its website.

In an update on the site on Thursday morning, it confirmed it is “having difficulties” accepting its own gift cards in its stores “currently due to a technical issue” and said it was “working to resolve the issue”.

An hour later it posted that it had resolved the problem and the gift cards were “now redeemable in our stores again today. We sincerely apologise for the upset and inconvenience caused yesterday”.

However by 1pm, the site was once again telling customers that “unfortunately we are having difficulties accepting Smyths Gift Cards in our stores currently due to a technical issue. Gift cards can still be used on our website for Home Delivery and Click & Collect. Apologies for the inconvenience caused.”

The Irish Times has made attempts to contact the company but at the time of writing no response had been received.

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Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor