Angry shoppers who queued in the cold from 5.30am to nab a Boxing Day bargain have complained about Watford Next’s handling of a power cut which delayed the store opening by more than two hours.

A "1,000-odd" people were left standing outside the Next store in Waterfields Shopping Park waiting for a fault in the UK Power Network to be repaired until about 8.15am.

The frustrated customers said staff continually misinformed them of how long it would take to restore power and advised them not to the town’s other Next store in into Watford.

But Next management claim the timings relayed to the queue were direct from UK Power Network.

Lucinda Williamson said: "The Watford Next kept people queuing for hours for a power cut to be fixed on Boxing Day morning saying it will be fixed in ten minutes when in actual fact the electrician was not even there.

"We were even advised not to go to the Harlequin Next as they said it was already rammed.

"Completely frustrated, tired, hungry and cold kids.

"I got there at half five for the parking and was told every hour it would be open in 15 minutes, the store opened at 8.15am."

Next management said they were waiting on an engineer from UK Power Networks to come and fix the fault.

They were initially advised the engineer would arrive on site before 6am and they could open on time.
However, the engineer did not get to the store until 8am.

The Waterfields Next store manager told the Watford Observer: "I know some customers were frustrated with our communications with them, we were trying to pass on the information we had been given by UK Power Network but that information was not always accurate.

"When the power was restored it took us 10 minutes to do a health and safety walk, which we weren’t able to do before then as it was too dark, and get the tills on to process transactions.

"Our customers were waiting quite a few hours and that was a very cold evening. I understand customers would have been frustrated, but for health and safety we couldn’t let people in the building. A 1,000-odd people were outside the store, we couldn’t even offer refreshments as the water pumps were not working. We couldn’t give out water or lavatory breaks.

"We were trying to make the best out of a bad situation."

He added: "It was a UK Power Network issue and we had to wait on an engineer to arrive on site.

"We initially found the fault when we first came to the site at 4.30am. UK Power Network gave us the impression it would be fixed by 6am, which was when we were due to open for trading.

"However, when we spoke to them again at 5.45am we were told 7am was the estimated time the engineer could get to us.

"We started informing customers, as before that point we thought we would be opening on time.

"We then had very mixed messages from UK Power Networks about when the engineer would arrive.

"He did not get to the store until 8am. We were on the phone to them every 20 minutes."