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BT fire knocks out card payments in central London

A fire in a BT exchange knocked out payment services for retailers in central London on Tuesday, affecting Christmas shoppers in Oxford Street and the surrounding area
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

Retailers were unable to take card payments from Christmas shoppers in central London on Tuesday, after a fire in a BT exchange knocked out card-reader services.

A water leak caused an electrical short circuit, leading to a localised fire in a BT exchange in Gerrard Street, BT told ZDNet UK.

"BT can confirm that water damage from a mains drain has disrupted power supplies to an exchange in the west end of London," the company said in a statement on Tuesday. "A number of customers in central London have been experiencing a loss of service."

BT exchange fire image

A fire in a BT exchange in Gerrard Street temporarily knocked out card payments in shops in central London. Photo credit: BT

The damage knocked out card-reader services to a number of shops, retailers said. Service from the exchange was restored on Wednesday, BT added.

"BT apologises to all customers impacted and thanks them for their patience while the emergency restoration works were undertaken," BT said. "Should customers experience residual service problems over the next few days, they should report them as normal through their service providers."

Retailers in some of London's main shopping hubs were unable to take credit and debit card payments due to the service outage. Jewellers Leslie Davis on Oxford Street and retailer Liberty on Great Marlborough Street told ZDNet UK they had lost card-reader services.

Clothing shop American Retro Soho London, on Old Compton Street, was also affected. "We had card-reader problems, it was general, it was the BT line," a spokeswoman for American Retro told ZDNet UK. Payments services were unavailable from when American Retro Soho London opened at 10:30am on Tuesday until 2:30pm that day, the spokeswoman said.

BT's Incident Response Team was called in on Tuesday and worked to repair damage to the exchange, BT said.

In March a fire at a BT exchange in Paddington knocked out broadband and telephone connectivity for customers linked to 437 BT exchanges around the UK.

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