EBT system restored after 17-state outage

Posted Oct. 13, 2013, at 10:08 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The system that processes the Electronic Benefits Transfer transactions is back to normal.

On Saturday, the EBT system experienced problems in Maine and other states across the country. In some cases, people left stores without their groceries.

“Access to EBT accounts has been restored, and card holders may now access their benefits at locations accepting EBT,” Gov. Paul LePage said in a statement on Sunday. “There is no need to talk to a customer service representative about the system failure [Saturday]. All services have been restored.”

Xerox experienced a major power outage on Saturday, according to the governor’s office. The company operates EBT systems in 17 states, including Maine.

Xerox was testing generator backups when it encountered the failure, according to the governor’s office. It caused a power failure at about 11 a.m. Saturday. Xerox was able to bring back its primary power, but connectivity to Maine and the other states was still down.

The service interruption affected access to programs such at SNAP and TANF.

“We appreciate your patience while Xerox worked to resolve the issue, and we apologize for any inconvenience,” Mary Mayhew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement on Sunday. “We realize that access to these benefits is very important to Maine families, and we will follow Xerox’s investigation into the cause of the failure so we can ensure a similar interruption does not happen again.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the outage was not related to the government shutdown.

Several people called the Bangor Daily News office on Saturday to report issues with their EBT cards, known as the Pine Tree Card in Maine.

“Me and my wife were in line behind a couple at Walmart. All the items were scanned, but when they swiped the card, it came up with an error,” said one man who asked not to be identified.

News outlets from across the country have been reporting similar issues.

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