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‘Just awful’: Unpaid cards left at Calgary businesses after Rogers outage

As of late Saturday afternoon, Rogers said its “networks and systems are almost fully functional” and that it was investigating the cause of the nationwide outage.

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Calgary businesses have a fresh supply of unlocked cards and I owe you after the nationwide Rogers outage left many unable to pay by debit card for most of Friday.

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The Toronto-based telecommunications giant’s services went dark Friday morning, leaving many customers without internet or phone access and disrupting the availability of 911 services and debit transactions across the country. Traffic was mostly restored on Saturday morning.

“It’s better today. We were just kind of working our way through it yesterday,” Jamesons Pub owner Harry Dimitriadis told Postmedia on Saturday. “It was definitely not ideal. It slows everything down. It slows down the service; it slows down the whole operation.”

Deborah Yedlin, president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, called it a “nightmare” for local businesses as the Calgary Stampede kicked off Friday, which is true for the manager of Red’s Diner, a breakfast joint in Ramsay near the Stampede. reasons.

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“It’s been a very difficult time for us,” Nichole Casey said. “We had people saying, ‘I don’t have credit and I don’t have cash,’ and the ATMs wouldn’t let them take money out. It was just awful.”

The Stampede is generally a big boost for businesses in and around the festival, but Casey and Dimitriadis said things are getting off to a slower start after the Day 1 slowdown. Both businesses are trying to close unpaid bills left over from the outage.

“Some people have promised to come back and pay for it … or we’ve just had to promote it – unfortunately the business will pay for it,” Casey said.

“It’s quite nice that it was only the first day; we’re normally busier during the week as the Stampede continues and I’m so happy it was just that one day. … We’re back and going, but you could tell it definitely took a toll yesterday.”

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Dimitriadis said he wasn’t too worried about the open cards and said many of them were regulars, he believes they will return soon. He noted several interactions he overheard as the business crowd flocked to lunch, reluctantly detaching themselves from their devices and unable to contact colleagues or check their work email during the lunch hour.

“You could literally see (people) panicking because of the anxiety they were getting. We’re just all working in real time these days, aren’t we?” he said, adding he also felt it when he was walking between two pub locations and had to stop to find WiFi to check in with his staff.

“I’m a Rogers customer, so I didn’t get emails, I didn’t get texts. … It’s shocking how exposed we are when we have no way to access our technology right now.”

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Many businesses across Canada were unable to accept debit card transactions Friday due to a network outage at Rogers Communications.
Many businesses across Canada were unable to accept debit card transactions Friday due to a network outage at Rogers Communications. Photo by Halfpoint /Getty Images/iStockphoto

Despite opening day payment issues, the Calgary Stampede broke its daily attendance record on Day 1, with 130,177 people through the gates. In 2019, the first day of the Stampede saw 127,777 admissions.

“I think like everybody yesterday, we were affected by Rogers in a big way … a lot of people were affected by our guests, but also by our vendors,” Stampede spokeswoman Kristen Anderson said.

“We had a lot of ATMs on hand and accepted different forms of payment, so it was a challenge, but we tried to overcome it as best we could.”

Anderson said debit services are back up and running at the Stampede on Saturday.

Calgary Nose Hill MP Michelle Rempel Garner is pushing for a government inquiry to look into how the outage happened to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Rempel Garner has previously called for regulatory reform in Canada’s telecommunications industry.

“This outage highlights another potential risk posed by the current federal regulatory structure. This means a potentially significant national vulnerability to a long-term service outage given the lack of diversity in Canada’s telecommunications providers,” she wrote in a letter to members of the federal Standing Committee on Industry and Technology on Friday.

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By late Saturday afternoon, Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri said service had been restored and that the company’s “networks and systems are almost fully operational.” In a written statement, Staffieri said the company continues to monitor its network issues and investigate the root cause of the problems.

“We now believe we have narrowed down the cause to a network system failure following a maintenance update on our core network that caused some of our routers to fail early Friday morning,” he said.

Staffieri apologized for the outage, adding that “we are particularly concerned that some customers were unable to call the emergency line and we are addressing this issue as an urgent priority.”

Rogers said it will proactively credit customers for the outage, but did not provide any details on the amount or how many customers were affected. The company said it was aware of spam text messages claiming to offer credit and that customers would be credited automatically.

— With files from The Canadian Press

[email protected]

Twitter: @michaelrdrguez

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