Morning business news - January 18

Friday 18 January 2013 11.16
Morning business news with Conor Brophy
Morning business news with Conor Brophy

AIB MERCHANT SERVICES GLITCH HITS 88,000 TRANSACTIONS - Thousands of bank customers have been hit by yet another technology gaff - this time involving credit and debit card transactions. A telecommunications outage has been identified by AIB Merchant Services for double debiting of credit and debit card customers involving 88,000 transactions earlier this week. The issue could be a particular problem for debit card transactions as it could lead to customers, through no fault of their own, being overdrawn on current accounts this weekend. The merchants using the terminals were also credited twice for these transactions.

Una Dillon, head of card services at the Irish Payment Services Organisation, says the error affected people in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK and the 88,000 transactions were worth about €4.9m. Ms Dillon says her office has been assured that the duplicate file has been reversed and refunds could be back in the affected people's accounts by close of business today. AIB customers were not the only people affected, as the bank's Merchant Services would process cards right across the board. She says that banks are investing more and more money in technology and admits that this latest gaff is quite unusual, adding that the IPSO has never seen a duplicated batch before. A full investigation will be held into what led to the error and Ms Dillon says that AIB Merchant Services has been very forthcoming once it was noticed.

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DIFFERING FORTUNES FOR UK HIGH STREET NAMES - Sebastian James, chief executive of electrical retailer Dixons, spoke yesterday of quite seismic" changes in retailing. "It is quite heartbreaking to see all those great brands disappearing ," he said. Dixons just one of a host of well-known names reporting results over the past couple of days.

Louise Cooper, of CooperCity at the London Stock Exchange, says that Dixons' UK and Irish sales were up 8% over the key Christmas period as the company benefited from the massive growth in tablet computers. It was also boosted by the demise of its main rival in the UK, Comet. On the food retailers, Ms Cooper says they were normally seen as 'defensive' stocks, a safe place to put money. However more and more food retailers are moving to online shopping, which is not as profitable as people coming into the shops and doing the shopping themselves. She points out that supermarket chain William Morrison has decided not to go down that route, despite the fact that consumers want more online shopping. Noting that Primark sales jumped 25% while Aldi sales soared 30%, Ms Cooper says that if you are selling low cost produce to hard pressed consumers, a company could clean up.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Dunnes Stores staff have secured a 3% pay rise after the retailer effectively conceded a pay claim. Dunnes had been due to attend the Labour Court yesterday following a pay claim on behalf of its staff by Mandate trade union. Dunnes did not attend but has informed staff that it would be paying the 3% increase, the first pay rise for its staff since 2007.

*** Retailer Game, which itself went through administration in the UK last year and was bought by investment firm OpCapita, has lodged an expression of interest in acquiring some of HMV's stores. Game closed its Irish outlets, which were not part of the OpCapita deal, with the loss of 121 jobs last March. The company confirmed it has approached administrator Deloitte about HMV but it is reported to be interested in just 45 of the 200 plus HMV shops. Staff at HMV's Cruise's St outlet in Limerick, meanwhile, have just spent their second night on a sit-in at the premises. They are looking to secure guarantees from David Carson, the receiver appointed to HMV Ireland, about wages, overtime and holiday pay due from the Christmas period.

*** China's economy bounced back over the final quarter of last year. Overnight we learned that economic output grew 7.9% over the final three months of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011. That came after seven quarters in a row in which the pace of expansion slowed.