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DETROIT-A small fruit and vegetable market owner is suing an Atlanta-based cash register company for allegedly providing equipment that can't recognize the year 2000.

The lawsuit filed in a state court in Michigan by Mark Yarsike of Detroit charges that TEC America cash registers shut down when customers use credit cards that expire after the Year 2000.

However, a TEC spokesman said the problem is not related to any deficiency in the TEC computer systems. Rather, the "problem" has been one of credit card authorization methodology belonging to the credit card industry, he explained.

"Aware that credit cards would bear Year 2000 expiration dates well before the turn of the century, the credit card companies were forced to establish a format for data reception and exchange that would recognize the years 2000 and above as valid expiration dates," the company said in a statement released last week. "That was finally done in April 1997."

"TEC America helped lead the way with software that deals successfully with this Year 2000 issue. After successful beta testing, a software update was released

in May 1997 to approximately

30 sites," the statement continued. "TEC America has received no report of malfunction from any of the users of this updated software, and was quite surprised when this issue was raised in litigation."

The spokesman declined to say whether the company's liability insurance would respond to the suit and would not provide coverage details.