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Afternoon power surge leaves registers closed for 90 minutes A power surge knocked out the computer system in The Book Store at 4:14 p.m. yesterday, leaving cash registers inoperable and customers unable to make purchases for an hour and a half. The surge struck the computers that control the cash register system, Book Store Director Mike Knezic said. At that point, the rest of the system froze. Knezic said two cash registers caused the power surge, but Book Store officials will not know exactly what went wrong until maintenance workers from Fujistu examine the machines. Yesterday's crash was the first cash register failure in the history of the store, Knezic said. The problem did not affect electricity in the rest of the building, so lights and the store's anti-theft system still operated. The Computer Connection's cash register system was also unaffected. After the system shut down, lines quickly backed up, with more than 15 people waiting at one register near The Book Store's main entrance on Locust Walk. Announcements every few minutes informed customers that the system was experiencing "mechanical difficulties." Security guards began turning people away from the store's entrances to prevent lines from growing any longer. "We appreciate your patience and cooperation," the announcements said. It took 40 minutes for employees to locate the faulty registers, disconnect them from the system, reboot the controlling computers and reestablish network operations, Knezic said. By 5 p.m., the system was working again. But fearing another crash, Book Store employees told customers to leave and return after 6 p.m., providing time to test the system without making people wait, Knezic said. "We didn't want people to think we were going to open and then have it shut down again," he explained. Customers who had to leave at 5 p.m. could keep their merchandise behind the Customer Service counter until the store closed at 8 p.m., Accounting Manager Kevin Furphy said. At 5:45 p.m., Book Store officials were satisfied by the system test results and brought the registers back on line, according to Knezic. Customers had already started to leave the line after 20 minutes of waiting. Those who stayed said the incident reinforced their negative feelings toward The Book Store. "The Book Store brings a new meaning to 'lack of customer service'," said College of General Studies junior Michael Sanford, who left his place in line -- stashing his books behind the Clinique counter so he could find them easily today -- to go to class at 5 p.m. First-year Law student Kier Gunds said The Book Store should have a backup register system to avoid problems like yesterday's. "I wish there was another book store," he said. "This shuts down the school temporarily for people who haven't bought books yet." A cashier had rung up half of College junior Malik Wilson's purchase when the system crashed. "I thought it was a problem with the register [caused by my purchase]," Wilson said. "It was the Fig Newtons!" More than just frustration motivated some customers' complaints. Engineering and Wharton freshman Scott Calidas was waiting to buy Maple software that he needed for homework due this morning. "I'm desperate," he said. College sophomore Scott Melker needed to buy a tie for part of his costume before a Pennsylvania 6-5000 performance last night at 5 p.m. He had to leave the line without the tie so he could get to the show on time. And one Book Store employee who withheld her name said the crash kept her at work too long. "My shift is over," she said at 5. "I've been here since 8:15. I want to go home." Daily Pennsylvanian staff writer Maisie Wong contributed to this report.

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