Many cash registers at Publix, Sweetbay and other retailers were unable to process debit cards, EBT and gift cards Thursday amid what appeared to be a widespread network breakdown.
The outages were sporadic, and systems did work at times for some customers at the 1,000-plus Publix stores, said spokeswoman Shannon Patten. For others, buying their groceries meant using a credit card, cash or check.
Sweetbay officials said their 100-plus stores experienced outages throughout the day. They pointed to breakdowns at a Dallas-based payment processing company called Retalix, which also handles some transactions for Publix.
Retalix is one of the world's largest payment processors, handling transactions at about 70,000 stores in 50 countries. Calls to Retalix during the afternoon reached a recorded message that said the offices were closed, and messages sent to company executives via email were not answered.
Publix officials apologized in a statement and said that until the problem is fixed, customers should call local stores in advance to see what form of payment they can accept.
The outage could have a disproportionate impact on budget-minded shoppers as one of the most popular tactics for saving money is using debit instead of credit cards for purchases -- so as to avoid amassing short-term debts.
The breakdown appeared to start as early as 9 a.m. and lasted throughout the day Thursday.
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