Cape Town, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 23 November 2011 – South African national power utility Eskom Holdings has sorted out problems with its online vending system, after an upgrade caused a meltdown at the weekend leaving customers unable to buy prepaid electricity vouchers.
“This breakdown in the system caused frustration to boil over as some customers went without power for long stretches of time due to the failure,” reports the Cape Times, “while others had to endure long queues at pay points.”
The power utility’s Western Cape spokeswoman, Jolene Henn advised Eskom customers to buy electricity at FNB branches, which had not experienced any delays. She said the upgrade had caused data lock issues, which had prevented many households around the country from purchasing vouchers.
Henn went on to say that in future it was likely that system upgrades would be done after hours.
“The system is configured to verify if the merchant has sufficient credit before each transaction goes through. The verification loop causes congestion or data transmission blockages during peak or high volume periods, and the subsequent data transmission congestion results in ‘process time-out’ and not system failure or crash,” Henn explained.
The time-out meant the system could not process transactions within the set time of five seconds, with vending agents required to retry the same transaction several times.
“A special project was initiated to resolve the challenge as soon as possible. However, the system support team continued to monitor the online vending system performance,” Henn said.