Menzies Distribution is promising to work with retailers affected by a “processing error” that meant direct debit payments were taken a day early from 14,000 businesses.

The news wholesaler informed retailers of its mistake on the morning it happened – leaving thousands of shops facing overdraft fines and penalties for missed payments.

Retailers branded the mistake “appalling” and are now calling for Menzies to make a one-off payment to their customers to make up for the disruption.

Hayling Island retailer Nigel Swan was left £3,600 out of pocket and said the foul-up meant retailers had been unable to restock their shops. “Put it this way – I didn’t have much money to spend at the cash and carry that day,” he said.

Wholesalers in Menzies strongholds said they had fewer customers on the day, with the Batleys depot in Stirling confirming sales were down on usual figures.

Portsmouth retailer Pradip Amin had to transfer £1,100 from his own account to cover his news bill, leaving him with extra fines to pay. He said: “It does a huge amount of damage to businesses. They should be supporting us, not causing us problems.”

Yorkshire retailer Ian Simpson said many businesses are already on the “breadline” and had been badly hit by the mistake. The NFRN has since had assurances from Menzies that it will reimburse any customers who have incurred  bank charges following the processing error.

NFRN national president Colin Fletcher said: “We are pleased to receive confirmation from Menzies that it will refund bank charges incurred.  Each case will be considered on an individual basis so I would urge members who are supplied by Menzies to check their bank statements and if they have been penalised to contact the wholesaler immediately.”

Dave Shedden, Menzies head of communications, said: “I’d like to apologise to our customers on behalf of Menzies Distribution for any inconvenience which has been caused to their businesses. We’ve identified the problem and designed new control measures to ensure that it does not recur.”

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