What started as a quick shopping trip on a Saturday turned into a four hour ordeal...

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West Michigan Meijer Stores Cash and Check Only on Saturday

If you're like me, maybe you headed to a West Michigan Meijer store on Saturday, May 21, and were welcomed by a sign on the door stating, "We are currently experiencing issues accepting electronic payments... Cash and check transactions are being accepted."

Janna/ TSM
Janna/ TSM
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I (stupidly) assumed it was just MY Meijer (Kalamazoo and 28th St.) that was having issues, and headed to the next closest location in Caledonia...

Where I was greeted by the same sign. UGH. Could I have gone somewhere else? Should I have? Maybe. Did I? No. At that point I felt invested, haha, like, "I've come this far, I'm shopping at Meijer today, darn it!"

Now, as person who doesn't regularly carry cash and honestly can't tell you the last time I even SAW my checkbook, I decided to use the ATM to get out some cash. I also (stupidly) assumed I'd be able to check out rather quickly as the store being temporarily "cash only" might deter people... When I did go to check out, each line was suuuuuper long.

I overheard from some disgruntled folks behind me that delays were caused by (expletive deleted) people who were still trying to use cards, which would eventually go through, but it would take a really long time... Now, I'm not entirely sure if that was the case. I think it was probably a combination of checks taking longer to write out, people running to grab cash from the ATM, general confusion and stress over the inconvenience of it all (for staff AND customers), and a staff shortage... Which, I do NOT envy anyone working at Meijer yesterday! All the employees I encountered were patient and kind, dealing with a problem that was out of their control.

After leaving my house around 2p.m, I finally got back with my groceries around 6p.m. And I was READY for a drink... but after all that, guess what I'd neglected to buy? Yup, booze. Sigh.

So what happened?

I saw postings in multiple Grand Rapids online groups that card readers were out at ALL Meijer locations.

According to Wood TV 8, a representative at Meijer’s corporate office told them Meijer stores nationwide were having issues with card payments on Saturday:

The corporate representative said just before 8 p.m. Saturday that the company’s IT department was working on the issue and was hoping to have it resolved soon. Meijer did not indicate when the problem might be resolved.

Is Meijer Accepting Credit/ Debit Cards Again?

As of this morning (Sunday, May 22) I'm still seeing posts in local groups about card reader issues at Meijer. Some folks say credit is working, but not debit...

So I called three area Meijer stores:

  • Meijer at 54th St. and Clyde Park
  • Meijer in Caledonia
  • Meijer on 28th St. in Cascade

Once connected to the Service Desk, there's an outgoing message that plays stating Meijer is aware of some guests having issues with "duplicate charges" on their cards - which is also something I saw in the GR Facebook groups.

UPDATE: On Monday, Meijer issued a statement warning shoppers about duplicate charges to their accounts, WDIV reports. Anyone with more than one charge should reach out to their bank:

During the weekend we had sporadic issues with credit/debit purchases at some of our stores, which caused delays in processing time and in some cases more than one charge for the same amount. Our understanding is numerous retailers were affected. In most cases the financial institutions will quickly cancel out the duplicate charges. If any customer has an issue they should alert their financial institution, which should be able to quickly take care of the problem. Thanks.

-Meijer

Employees I spoke with at the three stores told me that credit IS working today, though it is taking a long time. Debit, gift cards, WIC, and EBT are still down.

It also seems like Grand Rapids residents are having issues with cards at other retailers - someone mentioned they couldn't use a card at Lowe's, and someone else mentioned there were gas stations only accepting cash in the area.

Is There a Nationwide Card Reader Outage?

So what is going on? I've yet to find anything official about an overall outrage with the companies that process electronic payments.

However, it seems a similar situation happened in August of last year. According to WMTV, one of the nation's largest credit card processors, TSYS, experienced and outage that affected customers all over the country.

But why did the system crash in the first place?

According to StaxPayments.com,

A Fiserv outage in February 2021 was reportedly caused by a power outage from a winter storm, but the TSYS outage still leaves questions unanswered.

So I'll continue to do some digging and will add to this post with whatever info I find!

In the meantime, maybe be prepared to have issues with credit/ debit cards at local retailers and possibly grab some cash from an ATM just in case. Or, like I should do, hunt down your check book...

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