You could say it was a bit of a grind for businesses in Saskatchewan and across Canada on Friday after Rogers Communications suffered an outage that affected the wireless service, internet and the Interac payment network.
Customers looking to pay for goods and services on Friday were told they were unable to tap or swipe their debit card to make purchases due to the outage.
After businesses were encouraged to go cashless during the COVID-19 pandemic, many establishments were left scrambling to come up with different payment solutions.
Some places still offered cash or credit options while others had to make the difficult decision to close up shop until debit was available.
Places like local coffee company Brewed Awakening, which has four locations in Regina, felt the impact that day.
“Overall, it was a huge impact,” said Brewed Awakening employee Isla Grier, who was at their downtown location when Interac became unavailable.
“It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t ideal and it was extremely challenging, but it was our management and staff that were really patient, made accommodations and really support us through it.”
Grier explained how they received word before opening their doors at 7 a.m. on Friday that the network outage could potentially impact their operations.
It was at 7:30 a.m. when their first debit purchase did not go through.
“Basically all day I was going to the lineup of people out the door to tell them we are only accepting cash and credit today,” Grier shared.
However, not everyone had the option to pay with coins, bills or their credit card that day. So owners Lisa and Ken MacMurchy decided to go a step further in order to accommodate their customers as best as possible.
“Our two owners are a local family, and because they have been a Regina name for 10-plus years and well-known, any customers who didn’t have a credit card or cash were able to place their order, we held their tab and then they were able to come and pay for it the following day or on Monday,” she explained.
“It was really nice and showed the benefits of being a local business. It made their day for a lot of people.”
She said that staff took down contact information for those who ended up using the tab option made available to them.
Employees were happy to see that overwhelming majority of those customers have since returned and already paid what they owed.
Despite the stressful circumstances faced by Brewed Awakening’s staff members, there were some positives they took away from the situation.
Grier said the past two years have set them up to become adaptive and handle unexpected scenarios with poise. Their locations didn’t see a loss in business either, especially at their downtown location, according to Grier.
But she added that they were blown away by the sense of community they witnessed from customers despite the outage.
“People were even offering to pay for other people’s stuff, which was really nice,” Grier mentioned.
“It took what would have been an unfortunate situation to lose business or close and turned it into a positive one.”