PAWTUCKET, RI. — Pet Food Experts (PFX) is reeling from technical difficulties that began Tuesday, May 3, which halted the distributor from providing service and deliveries to independent pet retailers for nearly a week.
For many of PFX’s customers, the issue began May 3, as all PFX’s ordering systems and inbound phone lines shut down. The company directed customers to its live chat for all immediate assistance. On May 4, President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Baker detailed PFX’s technical issues in an official statement.
According to Baker, the company experienced a disruption to its internal computer systems, causing PFX to temporarily pause order processing and all deliveries. PFX shared it was working with specialist to diagnose and fix the disruption.
“Pausing our deliveries is always PFX’s last resort,” Baker said. “It’s not only difficult on you and your customers, but it’s also hard on our people, who truly want nothing more than to take care of you.”
On May 5, Baker hosted a Fireside Chat via PFX’s Facebook group, along with William May, chief operating officer and vice president of operations, detailing the service disruption. According to Baker, there was not much PFX could reveal about its technical difficulties.
“I can tell you in the 30 plus years that PFX has been in business… I can only think of a couple times in our history that we’ve been interrupted from a service standpoint for more than a day or two,” Baker explained. “This is something unprecedented for us in the form of technical difficulties on the IT front.”
According to May, the technical difficulties PFX experienced beginning May 3 were immediately reported to local law enforcement, who were actively investigating the issue.
“We’re also very diligently working with third-party specialists to investigate the source of this disruption,” May added.
In addressing when PFX’s system would be back to full operations, May reported that the company could not estimate when that would occur.
Jim Alden, executive vice president of PFX, also joined the Fireside Chat, providing details on impact of PFX’s difficulties.
“On the customer side, we are not accepting any orders and our phone system is down, but our email is up so you can connect with your representatives via email,” Alden said. “On the vendor side, we are not placing any purchase orders and we are no longer able to receive any product into our warehouses, but you will be able to connect with our category directors.”
With service disruptions continuing into the week, Baker again hosted a PFX Fireside Chat on May 6, revealing that law enforcement’s investigation into the issue had “gained speed” and was nearing the end. PFX also hinted that the disruption may have caused a breach in personal information.
“The investigation in ongoing. If it is identified that your personal information has been compromised, you will be notified pursuant to applicable law,” Baker said. “One of the first systems we had to pull and remains inoperable is the internet. All six warehouses as well as our headquarters are either off the internet or on a really limited, special wi-fi system that is protected from what we’re dealing with.”
According to Baker, PFX had 408 orders in its system from Tuesday that would have originally shipped Wednesday, with the company hand-picking some orders to try and decrease the back log. The company also mentioned that those located close to its warehouses may be eventually allowed to hand-pick orders if the technical difficulties continued.
On May 7, PFX revealed that it was beginning the early stages of restoring to full operations, with hopes to share its updated delivery schedules on May 8. However, PFX stated on May 8 that additional time was needed to ensure full operations.
“While significant progress has been made, additional time is needed to ramp up our servers before delivery schedules can be shared,” the company shared. “As a result, we will not be taking orders on Monday, May 9, like we had hoped.”
After nearly a week, PFX announced May 9 it had begun testing its ordering systems and phone lines and released its delivery schedules that night at 6:30 p.m. EST. Later that same day, PFX officially announced that its systems were back online and fully operational. The company shared that all customers would receive an email detailing next steps for ordering and deliveries.
Though PFX is back to full operations, the company has not yet publicly detailed the cause of the service disruption.
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