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Unlimited Food Stamp Glitch at Walmart

Posted by on Oct. 15, 2013 at 1:29 PM
  • 18 Replies

Wal-Mart, Xerox blame each other for food stamps spree

Louisiana food stamp recipients stripped bare the shelves of some Walmart stores when a computer glitch left their debit cards with no limits.


Throngs of shoppers flooded Wal-Mart stores in Louisiana on Saturday, buying groceries using electronic benefit cards that contained no credit limits.

NEW ORLEANS — Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Xerox Corp blamed each other on Monday after Louisiana food stamp recipients stripped bare the shelves of some Walmart stores when a computer glitch left their debit cards with no limits.

Managers of Wal-Mart stores in the small, north Louisiana towns of Springhill and Mansfield alerted police on Saturday night that throngs of shoppers had flooded into the stores and were buying groceries using electronic benefit cards that contained no credit limits.

Food stamps glitch causes run at Wal-Mart

 1:34 Views: 13kNewsy

EBT cards are debit-type cards issued under the state's food stamp program and coded to show the amount of money available for individuals to spend. Food stamps are a federal government subsidy program for low-income people that is administered by the states.

When word got out Saturday that the EBT cards were showing no limits, card holders rushed to area Wal-Marts to take advantage.

"Some people had eight or 10 shopping carts full of groceries," Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd said on Monday.

Related: Wal-Mart turns to 'made in USA'

Xerox said on Saturday that its systems that process EBT transactions suffered an outage stemming from routine testing of backup generators that malfunctioned. Louisiana was one of 17 states affected by the outage.

Kayla Whiting, a spokeswoman at Wal-Mart's Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters, pointed to Xerox as the source of the problem and referred further questions to Xerox.

Xerox corporate spokesman Bill McKee provided a written company statement saying that Xerox has a "documented process for retailers like Wal-Mart to follow in response to EBT outages."

But the statement left unclear who would cover the unauthorized spending, and it referred further questions to Wal-Mart.

Louisiana officials said they had no intention of being left holding the bag. "The outage was the result of failures by our contractor, Xerox," said Trey Williams, a spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.

He said emergency procedures in place with Xerox allow retailers to call a phone number and receive authorization for purchases any time the EBT system is down. "Some retailers chose not to follow the process," he said. "Those businesses are only being reimbursed for the (maximum) amounts on individual cards," he said.

Related: Xerox DocuMate Scanners Now Convert Volumes of Paper Documents into Useable Business Intelligence

Williams said that amounts transacted above the cards' available balances were returned to Wal-Mart marked "as insufficient funds."

He could not provide an estimate of the total amount of overspending or say who will cover it in the end. "That's a conversation between Xerox and the retailer," he said.

CARTS FULL OF GROCERIES

Springhill's Lynd arrived at his town's Wal-Mart store at about 7 p.m. local time and found a few hundred shoppers jamming checkout lines with carts filled to overflowing.

Lynd said he told the manager that the store had a right to refuse service, but the manager said she had contacted Wal-Mart headquarters and was told to accept the cards.

The shoppers "decimated the grocery section of Wal-Mart," Lynd said.

The shoppers broke no laws, Lynd said, adding that police intervention was not required to disperse the crowd. At about 9 p.m., Wal-Mart said that the glitch had been fixed and the EBT cards were again showing appropriate spending limits.

"When they heard the announcement, people just left their carts in place and walked out of the store," Lynd said.

Mansfield Assistant Police Chief Gary Hobbs reported a similar scene in his community. He said that several other grocery stores in the area temporarily stopped accepting EBT cards when they became aware of the glitch, but Wal-Mart continued.


Who do you think should be responsible for paying for the glitch?

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by on Oct. 15, 2013 at 1:29 PM
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Replies (1-10):
splatz
by Sarah on Oct. 15, 2013 at 1:29 PM

Normally I won't touch a FS post with a ten foot poll lol.. but thought this was pretty interesting & crazy!

Mamie_85
by on Oct. 15, 2013 at 1:30 PM

 so that's what everyone is talking about lol

mommy2boys03
by on Oct. 15, 2013 at 1:35 PM

My state was one that was affected by the glitch.  I just want to know why every store in the other 16 states knew what to do but these two store were clueless.  Walmart figured they would get their money and now should have to eat the mistake.  

splatz
by Sarah on Oct. 15, 2013 at 1:35 PM

I haven't wandered into any other groups today. Apparently I am out of the loop lol. This just popped up on my FB feed. :P

Quoting Mamie_85:

 so that's what everyone is talking about lol


Mamie_85
by on Oct. 15, 2013 at 1:37 PM

 it's my day off, so i've been browsing cafemom and until now, had no idea what they were talking about lol

Quoting splatz:

I haven't wandered into any other groups today. Apparently I am out of the loop lol. This just popped up on my FB feed. :P

Quoting Mamie_85:

 so that's what everyone is talking about lol


 

splatz
by Sarah on Oct. 15, 2013 at 1:37 PM

It seems like other retailers had the common sense to not accept EBT as a form of payment. Seems crazy that Walmart would just ok it. I agree that Walmart should be responsible. But I am curious what if anything happens to the people who bought all this stuff. Obviously they knew what they were doing was wrong! 

Quoting mommy2boys03:

My state was one that was affected by the glitch.  I just want to know why every store in the other 16 states knew what to do but these two store were clueless.  Walmart figured they would get their money and now should have to eat the mistake.  


MichelleMc
by on Oct. 15, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Our walmart had the sign up the MOMENT it happened saying they were not accepting EBT, the system was down. So, I don't see how walmart headquarters would tell one store to do it? But our store was told otherwise? It isn't walmart, it was an idiot manager IF it did happen. As as usual the crooks that knowingly STOLE from the store are just fine to do it. Where it their accountability? How about their next months ( or more ) food stamps just don't get given to them, they get given to the store they stole from? They surely KNEW they didn't have that much! I also bet you it wasn't all "food" items they were stealing.

Also it says by 7pm. By 7pm, the issue was fixed for a long time in some states, and was well known & all over the internet because I had already read all about it. Had posted on facebook about how some people were buying into it was a govt shutdown deal. So, why didn't xerox already shutdown the cards? They said they had fixed so many of them? 

As usual, Walmart bashing at its finest...

grownsexy
by on Oct. 15, 2013 at 4:01 PM
2 moms liked this
I think that the card holder that exceeded the limit should not receive benefits until bill is paid in full.
grownsexy
by on Oct. 15, 2013 at 4:01 PM
I think that the card holder that exceeded the limit should not receive benefits until bill is paid in full.
splatz
by Sarah on Oct. 15, 2013 at 6:12 PM

I totally agree! I really hope they don't let those people get away with it. They know they were wrong. 

Quoting grownsexy:

I think that the card holder that exceeded the limit should not receive benefits until bill is paid in full.


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