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EBT Shutdown Causes Headache for Stores, Scare for Customers

The Illinois LINK system was part of Saturday's shutdown in 17 states.
CENTRAL ILLINOIS - Stores were busy Sunday after a system glitch kept link card users from buying groceries earlier this weekend.

As shoppers make up for lost time, businesses are speaking out. about handling an issue that caused headaches for workers and a scare for customers.

The door sign, greeting customers at Eureka's IGA, read, "We Welcome Snap EBT Customers."

But Saturday....that wasn't the case.

"We had a couple customers come in with the LINK card and both of them were denied," store Assistant Manager Josh Brown said. "I thought something might have been up then."

During a routine test, Electronic Benefit Transfer systems in 17 states completely shutdown Saturday.

That included the Illinois LINK system, something Brown has never seen before.

He's worked at IGA for six and a half years.

"We had at least several carts we had to return, and customers were upset, and rightfully so," Brown said. "This is the first time I've had to deal with something like this."

In Peoria, Sara Cruse said she had to find out about the shutdown the hard way.

"If it hadn't gotten resolved, I mean, you're talking hundred of people that are affected," she said.

Brown said it was a punch in the stomach for his customers.

"When we have to tell somebody, 'Sorry, you can't use your card and get your groceries,' that hurts," he said.

Cruse knew what that punch feels like - it's from uncertainty of not knowing when she'd be able to get food again.

"When you're talking about not sure how long it will take to resolve the problem - you're talking everyday things like milk, bread, and eggs that no one's going to get," she said.

Illinois department of Human Services said system access returned Saturday evening, which was a relief for Brown.

"Big relief, because the customer is going to be able to get what they need, and then we're able to do what we do - sell our groceries," he said.

But it's an bigger relief for Cruse.

Now that the operation is back up, she's running those much needed errands.

Cruse says she hopes that next time, LINK customers can know in advance about potential tests so that they can plan ahead.

The Xerox Corporation is investigating the cause of the issue.

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