- Associated Press - Thursday, December 24, 2020

HONOLULU (AP) - Some Honolulu residents have said that their city-issued debit cards loaded with $500 to buy groceries have not been properly activated, frustrating many recipients.

But by late Wednesday, the city announced a change that would allow cardholders to activate their cards online. The city’s call center was set to call card recipients on its list to let them know, Alexander Zannes, the mayor’s spokesman, said in an email.

Earlier this month, the city issued 4,000 debit cards for residents struggling financially because of the coronavirus pandemic to use on groceries and other essential goods, Hawaii News Now reported Tuesday.

But many of those cards have not worked and were distributed later than expected. Some of those who have received faulty cards also said that they cannot get through to the vendor, Mobility Finance Capital Inc., to activate the cards because of high call volume.

“There’s no way for us to activate it,” state resident DeMont Conner said. “With other cards, you can usually go online and activate it or you activate it by phone.”

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

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Tuesday apologized for the program’s problems.

“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.”

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