Businesses hit by AT&T outage

 Twisted Burger in West Point was forced to take only cash on Friday due to a widespread AT&T outage
Staff Writer

A widespread AT&T Internet outage Friday and into Saturday had businesses scrambling for alternatives to take care of customers just hours before Christmas.

But West Point retailers say they managed to get through.

When asked had the outage, which last all day Friday, been a nightmare, Twisted Burger, the specialty hamburger restaurant in the Mossy Oak Center, an employee replied, "Yes."

"But we haven't really lost that much business. People have been able to pay in cash. We've had a couple of people walk out," she added. "We've just been trying to deal with the best we can."

The outlet's phone service also was out so it is unclear how many to-go orders the business might have missed.

The outage kept businesses that use AT&T for internet service from being able to run debit and credit cards electronically. That meant customers had to use cash or write a check, if they were willing to take checks without being able to verify them electronically.

"It hasn't been a problem. We've been able to get by okay. And customers have been understanding," said Joanna Ellis, an employee at 'Just for Ladies.'

Part of the frustration was trying to find out when the service might be restored.

Some customers said they were told initially Friday morning that service would be restored Friday afternoon. Others said they were told it could be Saturday.

"That makes it awfully difficult to plan, place orders, do any of those things. I had to remember how to use the fax machine. Thank goodness it wasn't on AT&T," said Debbie Mason, who runs a truck-route service from her home. "I finally just more or less gave up and said 'heck, it's Christmas, I'm shutting down.'"

In addition to retailers and schedulers, researchers who relied on AT&T for Internet also were out of luck. West Point appraiser Fred Zeponi told friends he couldn't access the databases he needed to do his work.

"I can't do appraisals without internet access. That's a problem," he said, his aggravation showing.