Central Bank and Trust Co.'s Web site announced Wednesday that customers' debit and ATM cards "are temporarily out of service. Please do not attempt to use your card at a merchant or ATM until further notice."
But many bank customers heard about it another way: when their purchases were denied.
"We've had an issue with our debit cards not processing transactions. We're working with the processor to fix it," Steve Kelly, the Lexington-based bank's director of marketing, said early Wednesday afternoon. "We should be announcing a resolution very shortly. It's my understanding it's going to take a few hours to fix."
Kelly said later that by 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, all cards should have been restored to full service.
He said the bank didn't know exactly how many customers were affected, but it was in the thousands.
Kelly said that the bank became aware of the problem about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday and that he had heard from many customers on the phone and via Facebook.
"Unfortunately, in this day and time, people always fear the worst — and the worst isn't what happened," Kelly said.
No security was compromised, no money was lost and customers could come into a Central Bank branch to get cash.
But it probably seemed like the end of the modern world if you tried to buy gas and couldn't. Linda Greene Courtney posted on Facebook that that happened to her husband.
"The average mobile banking customer uses their card 37 times a month — they're checking to see if they can buy lunch," Kelly said.
Apparently literally, in the case of customer Marsha Horton Litton, who posted this on Central Bank's Facebook page: "I have been thru the drive thru twice today. I wish someone would've taken the time to tell me this before I tried to pay for my lunch with my card."
Central Bank tried to get the word out to customers on its Web site, Centralbank.com, and on Facebook, posting updates through the day and responding to upset customers.
"Thank you for your comment and we completely understand," Central Bank posted in response to one customer. "We are taking every step possible to notify as many people as we possibly can. Facebook and our Web site is just one way that we're trying to get the word out. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused."
Central Bank has branches in Lexington, Berea, Georgetown, Louisville, Nicholasville, Northern Kentucky, Owingsville, Richmond, Salt Lick and Winchester, according to its Web site.
Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl.