Some western Kentucky businesses are reporting Saturday their stores are unable to accept credit cards and debit cards for sales and can only accept cash, in connection to the AT&T service outages following the explosion in Nashville.
Fulton County Emergency Management in a Facebook post said the agency was receiving reports that Walmart in Fulton and the Little General convenience store in Hickman were accepting cash payments. An employee at Hibbett Sports in Murray also said their store could only accept cash on Saturday.
A spokesperson for Walmart confirmed the internet outages at some of their western Kentucky stores were related to the AT&T service outages connected to the Nashville explosion. The internet outages are impacting stores’ ability to process credit cards and returns.
“We have no access to internet, so we can’t do any kind of, anything related to internet at all,” said Trevor Harrington, the Walmart store manager in Fulton. “We run checks through just like a debit card, so we can’t even take a check.”
Harrington said he was surprised to see effects of the explosion in Nashville reach as far as Fulton and that he found it interesting some Walmart stores were affected while others weren’t because stores have different internet providers other than AT&T.
Willie Kerns is the CEO of SmartPath Technologies in Calvert City, an information technology consulting firm serving western Kentucky. He said service outages — ranging from impacted internet for businesses to local emergency management agencies not able to take 9-1-1 calls — have stemmed from a damaged AT&T data center in downtown Nashville following the explosion. He said some local utilities, such as Murray Electric Systems, run data through that AT&T center.
“Any traffic, whether that be internet traffic or voice traffic or 911 systems, whatever the case may be,” he said. “Any traffic that’s routed that way through Nashville, well, they’re having to figure out where to reroute that.”
He said for businesses and entities that only have a sole service provider of AT&T for phone calls and internet, this situation may serve as a “wake up call” about the necessity of internet for conducting business and maintaining services. He said it’s important for businesses to have a backup internet provider in case of emergencies.
“A car could hit a power pole and burn into their building and take out their primary internet connection,” he said. “They have to make sure that there’s an internet connection coming in from something other than that pole that the car wreck took out.”
Kerns said large corporations including Walmart will survive, but smaller businesses unable to process credit card transactions may be faced with a significant financial crunch if this situation is prolonged. He said he knows of one local business that is potentially facing bankruptcy if it's unable to process credit cards.