Safeway pulls U.K. site after hacker attack

Thousands of Safeway customers receive emails over the weekend--which appeared to come from the company--saying Safeway is raising its prices by 25 percent.

LONDON--Supermarket chain Safeway said it has shut down its Web site after an attack by computer hackers.

Thousands of Safeway customers received emails over the weekend--which appeared to come from the company--saying Safeway would raise its prices by 25 percent. The emails also said, "If they wanted to shop elsewhere, they could," according to Emma French, a Safeway spokeswoman.

U.K. supermarkets have been cutting prices and spending more on promotions, especially since Wal-Mart Stores bought Asda last year. Wal-Mart said last month that its first U.K. supercenter will sell goods for 10 percent less than surrounding competitors.

Safeway, unlike bigger rivals Tesco and J. Sainsbury, doesn't sell goods over the Internet.

The hackers broke into the supermarket's computers late Friday and accessed the email addresses of 3,000 customers who had contacted the company through the Internet site.

"It was a ridiculous email really," said French, describing its content as "rude."

Safeway sent an email Saturday informing customers of the breach. The supermarket chain said in a statement that its "investigations are continuing." The incident was reported earlier in The Independent.

Barclays last month temporarily closed its Internet bank, Britain's biggest with 1.25 million customers, after some customers were able to access details of other people's accounts.

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