Fingers point after Wal-Mart food stamp debacle
Hundreds of shoppers took advantage of a glitch allowing unlimited purchases. So who's going to pick up the tab now?
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.
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.
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 Walmart," 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., Walmart 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.
More from Top Stocks
What's wrong with this picture ? Shaquanda has 8 carts full of groceries and an EBT card. Is it possible that something is not right here ?
Here's the correct solution to the problem. Walmart eats the cost of the food they let her have and Shaquanda's *ss goes to jail for felony theft.
Here's what will actually happen. Walmart will pass the loss along to it's customers and Shaquanda will make some serious bank selling the extra food. I'm sure some will also be traded for rock.
That concludes today's lesson on justice in America.
Yes this same type of Action against a Bank ATM or bank card, is quite serious..
And these people "knew they were pulling something off", that's called "intent".
Nancy.... YES, THEY DID, commit a CRIME it's called FRAUD, Maybe Larceny by conversion.
It is against the State or Federal Government, depending on the Funding...
It could be considered a Federal crime against the State, Government or Taxpayer...
I hope they go to Jail or lose all EBT/SNAP privileges forever.....
And like someone said Wally World "eat" the cost or be prosecuted also.
The only thing this story left out was what color a majority of the "shoppers" were, and how many were driving Escalades with 22's on them, who called on their friends on their Obama phone to alert them of the situation.
My how far we have fallen. When I was a kid, it was a source of shame to accept handouts; white, black, pink, purple, it made no difference. Our preacher and his wife were young and dirt poor, yet they so adamantly refused handouts that church members used to call them over while other church members snuck food into their house.
Then, in 1968, welfare came into being. Now it seems everyone is "entitled". Someone please answer this for me: The average working family, according to our own census.gov, spends around $500 a month for food for a family of 4. Why is it that EBT recipients currently receive $688 and some politicians are upset that that is being cut to $632/month? Why are they "entitled" to 30% more than the working family spends?
I think we may be beyond the "tipping point" now.
Has anyone heard of the "R" word? Responsibility. Those people knew that they were "Stealing" and should be held responsibile for the debt. Take it fromthe future allocations of their cards.
If one knowingly steals and is not subsequently held responsibile, where is this sad country headed?
Apparently, the Wal-Mart smiley face was smiling ear-to-ear that day. The Louisiana food stamp recipients were, "Saving Money & Living Better" as the Wal-Mart slogan says.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
An interest rate tease in The Wall Street Journal sends the market into an optimistic tizzy -- but one that doesn't end quite at the top.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.
Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.
Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.