Downtown Charlotte Amalie retailers were scrambling to conduct business Wednesday night and Thursday morning when their credit card machines could not connect and phone lines seemed to be disrupted for most retailers.
Contacted by the Source Thursday morning, several businesses reported that the interruption was due to a truck hitting an Innovative pole downtown, which the company’s officials said was never reported or called in.
“This morning we did have a few customers who said their modems had started dropping, but then they reported that things were slowly coming back online,” Jennifer Matarangas-King, the company’s spokeswoman said Thursday afternoon. “Honestly, we can’t place any specific issue and we were never informed from the V.I. Water and Power Authority or anyone else about a power outage or a car hitting one of our poles, so if that report is true, we were not aware of it.”
Matarangas-King said internet and telephone service was off for at least the entirety of Main Street, and other areas of Charlotte Amalie, from early Thursday morning until about 2 p.m., when most everything appeared to be restored.
“Around that time, it appeared the modems did start to reset themselves,” she said. “In the future, we would like to remind our customers that any time there is an issue, they should call into 912 and we will respond as quickly as possible.”
WAPA spokesman Jean Greaux Jr. said Thursday afternoon that the authority had not experienced any power outages in the previous 24 hours on St. Thomas and he too had no knowledge of a truck or anything else hitting a utility pole.
While vendors around Main Street said that crews appeared to be working hard to fix the problem, but no phone and limited internet made it hard to conduct business.
“These days, internet access is more important than the telephone itself because in order to run a credit card, you need internet access to process the chip inside,” according to Greenhouse Bar and Restaurant manager Charles Bojar, who said the business was affected as early as 8 p.m. Wednesday. “Internally, this issue affected our to-go orders and last night for dinner, we had to tell everyone they could only take cash, but it was okay, and Innovative was out there working hard to get it back up and running today.”
While Greenhouse was back up around 11 a.m., other businesses called as late 3 p.m. said they were still having “sporadic service.”
“I haven’t been able to run any credit card lines, so I’ve been doing manual approval,” one vendor at Royal Caribbean said. “When it takes longer, customers have to wait, and I am not able to deposit the funds. This has been going on since this morning. Things have been going on intermittently since then, but the phone has stayed completely dead.”
One customer told the Source that after trying three credit card terminals at one electronics store at 10 a.m. Thursday, she ended up having to pay cash and at another store on Main Street at noon, the clerk called in the $170 credit card purchase on her cell phone.
“It was definitely difficult this morning because the phone and internet went down one shot, which definitely made it hard to conduct business and to get through to Innovative, since at that point they were probably pretty busy,” Christina Quetel, from Forever Flowers in Frenchtown, said. “Most of our business is via phone, so if the person isn’t walking in, the impression is that you were busy, unavailable or closed and of course, that not’s the impression you want to give. Luckily everything came back at a decent amount of time.”
On a positive note, there were no ships in Thursday, so what could have been chaotic was merely inconvenient.
Editor’s note: Shaun A Pennington contributed to this story