From delays to activation trouble, city grocery card program faces more woes

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Updated: Dec. 23, 2020 at 5:01 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city’s grocery card program is facing a new round of criticism from recipients who say that can’t activate their cards.

Earlier this month, the city issued 4,000 debit cards loaded with $500 to residents hard hit by the pandemic. The money was intended to help people buy groceries and essential goods.

But many of those cards were delayed because the city used an East Coast vendor that wasn’t able to ship them out in time due to winter storms and the holiday rush.

People who have since received their cards now say they can’t get through to the vendor, MoCaFi or Mobility Finance Capital Inc., to activate the cards due to high call volume.

“There’s no way for us to activate it. With other cards, you can usually go online and activate it or you activate it by phone,” said Waianae resident DeMont Conner, whose paralegal services company went on hiatus when Hawaii’s courts were closed due to the pandemic.

“This is one of the cruelest jokes that is being played in Hawaii right now, in this time of Christmas season, holiday season.”

One Ewa Beach resident, who spent nearly an hour on hold today, said the city should have used a local bank.

“It is frustrating. It’s inconsistent because they are using a company in New Jersey,” said Deelani, whose job as an Uber driver was curtailed due the shutdown.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell spoke about the program today.

“We want to apologize to folks who are having trouble activating the card and we also want to apologize for the delay in the delivery of the cards,” he said.

Since the money is funded by CARES Act money, it is set to lapse on Dec. 27. Caldwell hopes the stimulus deal announced this week will extend the funding for a year.

But with President Donald Trump threating to veto the stimulus bill, there is no guarantee that the money will be around after next week.

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