SYSTEM DOWN: Bundaberg mum Amanda Jones said it was lucky she had cash to pay for groceries at Woolworths when a system error prevented her from paying using her Cashless Debit Card.
SYSTEM DOWN: Bundaberg mum Amanda Jones said it was lucky she had cash to pay for groceries at Woolworths when a system error prevented her from paying using her Cashless Debit Card. Katie Hall

Mums almost go without as cashless card denied at Woolworths

SINGLE mother Amanda Jones never wants her children to go hungry.

But last Saturday during a routine food shop the Millbank mum, 31, was faced with the possibility she may have to leave the store without any groceries.

A system error, which saw many payments denied at Woolworths in Stockland Bundaberg caused chaos and left people like Ms Jones, who has been placed on the Indue Cashless Debit Card earlier this year, in a panic.

Ms Jones said if it wasn't for her withdrawing some cash earlier in the week, she would not have been able to put food on her family's table.

Speaking to the NewsMail, she said the experience caused her embarrassment, and left her questioning what she and other cardholders would have done if they did not have access to cash that day.

"There was a man in front of me ... and his bank card also declined," Ms Jones said.

"He went to the ATM and came back to pay ... it's easy for him to do that, but I can't do that.

"If I didn't have cash I would have had to go without."

The Cashless Debit Card, which is assigned to people age 18-35 on welfare payments such as the single parenting payment or Newstart, isolates 80 per cent of the payment to the card.

The card blocks the purchase of alcohol and gambling products, and businesses such as restaurants may also decline CDC payments if they serve alcohol on the premises.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt has long championed for the card to be trialled in the region, with the hopes it would put a stop to issues surrounding intergenerational unemployment.

But Ms Jones said she could not share Mr Pitt's vision for the card trial.

She sees it as "tarring everyone with the same brush".

"To go on this card, I do feel like scum and I do feel embarrassed," she said.

"It has made a mess of society."

She said politicians needed to realise what it was like living payment to payment, and empathise with the people who were trying to do the right thing in life.

Fears about when and where the card may be declined has also left Ms Jones questioning whether to go on outings with her friends.

She worries she won't be able to pay for a meal at her local if there was also alcohol served at the premises.

And she isn't the only one left with serious concerns over the reliability of the card after Saturday's events.

Peta O'Sullivan, an Avenell Heights mother of three and CDC cardholder, was at Woolworths when the outage hit.

Ms O'Sullivan said if it wasn't for her partner, who is not a CDC cardholder, she would have had to walk away with nothing.

She told the NewsMail a staff member told her the card would be approved, but it was still declined.

It was then the cashier asked her why she couldn't just take cash out to pay.

"It was embarrassing trying to explain to her (that I can't get cash out)," Ms O'Sullivan said.

"They say it (the CDC) doesn't affect people who aren't on it, but it affects my partner.

"It affects the entire household because it affects me."

She said since being allocated the card, she had felt limited, stereotyped, and concerned about how reliable the card would be.

"You are guilty until proven innocent basically, and then you're unable to prove yourself innocent," she said.

"I have three little people here, and we (my family) do the right thing, we pay our rent, pay our bills and feed our babies."

Ms O'Sullivan said support services to cater to people's emotional, physical and mental health were desperately needed as the roll-out continued.

A Woolworths spokeswoman told the NewsMail the error, which prevented cashiers from accepting Indue CDC, had now been resolved.

While the Woolworths at Stockland appeared to be the only store affected, other Cashless Debit Card cardholders took to social media, claiming to have issues making payments at Big W on the same day.

Mr Pitt did not answer NewsMail questions about the impact this outage had on those affected or the potential impacts that future outages could cause.

However, he recommended cardholders having issues with the card's operation to call the Cashless Debit Card hotline, or visit a Cashless Card shopfront.

A Department of Social Services spokesman confirmed the network outage.

The spokesman said in an emergency situation, the department could approve account transfers so cardholders could withdraw welfare payments from their standard bank account.

Before the rollout of the card in Hinkler in January, many people expressed concerns it could not be used at major supermarket chain Aldi.

Initially, Aldi said it would not accept the card for payment said but later confirmed it would.



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