Target Checkout Trouble

Customers wait on a long check out line at a Target store in San Francisco on Saturday, June 15, 2019. Target suffered a technological glitch that stalled checkout lines at its stores worldwide Saturday, exasperating shoppers and eating into sales at a prime time for retailers. The outage periodically prevented Target's cashiers from scanning merchandise or processing transactions. Self-checkout registers also weren't working at times, causing massive lines in some stores. (AP Photo/Michael Liedtke)

It wasn't a data breach.

Target is calling a two-hour shutdown of registers in stores nationwide that led to an outburst of frustration among customers on Twitter an "internal technology error."  

"It's not a repeat of the 2013 data breach that affected millions of Target users in terms of their credit card information, potentially getting into the wrong hands," said Larry Magid, CBS News Technology consultant.  

Magid said the retailer and other industries need to take steps to ensure something like this doesn't happen again.

"When airlines' ticket systems go down, the planes don't fly because they don't know who their passengers are--the same situation with Target--it's centralized, so when something goes wrong it goes wrong in a very big way, and can affect literally the entire chain," said Magid.  "In some cases, these companies are inter-connected, so there are retailers that actually own other retailers, and it can affect the entire--not just one company--but all of the affiliated companies.

"We are moving in this direction, and I do think that companies have to think about a way of decentralizing; they can have centralized system, but the system would operate without the centralized system necessarily in place so they don't have these nationwide disasters like what happened on Saturday with Target," he said.

The incident was followed by an unrelated issue with a Target vendor Sunday, that stopped payments at some stores for a time as well, according to CNN.

Target apologized to customers for the inconvenient, frustrating experience, on Twitter.

Technology is so ingrained in our daily lives, when something goes wrong--even for as short time--it can affect millions.

"When my Comcast broadband goes wrong--not because I did anything--but there's some glitch in the system--it affects me and my neighbors and potentially anybody in the country who uses that. I have a connected car, and I've even had times where my car wasn't operating properly, and it turned out to be a system glitch because a car depends on connectivity for some of its functions," said Magid.  

Assistant News Director

Amy Cherry is the Assistant News Director and an investigative journalist at WDEL. She joined WDEL's award-winning news team in 2010 from WBZ Newsradio 1030 in Boston and has received national accolades for reporting.