MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There were traffic jams and lines out the door at gas stations citywide Saturday, all over a rumor that blew up on social media.
“I ran out of the house, didn’t even brush my hair or nothing to come pay this light bill,” said Memphis, Lights, Gas and Water customer Anthony Gilliam. “Thank you, Zach Randolph.”
After hearing from a relative that the former Grizzly was generously paying off Memphian’s utility bills, Gilliam rushed to one of the dozens of MLGW bill-pay kiosks across the city.
He showed WREG what he saw when he says he pulled up his account and paid just 1% of his bill — the screen displaying a zero balance.
“Hopefully, it’s true,” Gilliam said.
But it wasn’t true.
MLGW confirmed it wasn’t true in a tweet just after 8 a.m. Saturday.
FYI: Rumor of a Zach Randolph donation for utility bills is not true.
— MLGW (@MLGW) July 8, 2017
— Nina Harrelson (@NinaHarrelsonTV) July 8, 2017
One officer told WREG Memphis Police were dispatched to gas stations across the city after fights broke out over people’s spots in line.
“Everybody is saying they’re getting their light bill paid,” said MLGW customer Shanequa Williams.
By the time we met one mom, she had been waiting in line for an hour.
“Now, once I’ve waited in this line in this hot sun, they’re coming to us telling us it’s all a hoax,” she said. “It’s a scam.”
Others weren’t so easily convinced.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it’s too good to be true,” said Elzo Townsend, who was stopping at the Hop-In for gas when he saw the commotion.
Around 11 a.m., Randolph tweeted that the rumor wasn’t true.
The rumor about me donating 1 million dollars to MLGW is FALSE. However I will make my annual $20,000 contribution to MIFA/MLGW in the fall
— Zach Randolph (@MacBo50) July 8, 2017
An hour later, MLGW held a press conference to address what they called ‘a glitch,’ which they said was displaying inaccurate account information at kiosks and on receipts.
A glitch MLGW President and CEO Jerry Collins said was exaggerated by the rumors circulating online.
“The glitch is being researched now,” he said. “We don’t know exactly what caused it, so when we find out what caused it and fix it, then that will tell us what we need to do to keep it from happening in the future.”
Collins said the glitch only affected kiosks, not MLGW’s customer accounting system, and that those kiosks have been shut down until the problem is fixed.