EBT Shoppers Stormed Walmart For ‘Free Food’, Walmart Pays
Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services says taxpayers will not be responsible for the Walmart feeding frenzies in Springhill and Mansfield after a food stamp glitch.
On Saturday, electronic benefit transaction (EBT) card holders were unable to access their card balances because of a computer glitch.
The local Walmart stores contacted the corporate offices to get guidance and what they should do. They were told to honor the purchases.
What followed was a mob scene once word got out that Walmart had "free food" leaving store shelves barren and chaos.
"If I'm lying I'm dying, there were a thousand people coming in," eyewitness Rachel Siau described the Springhill Walmart. "There were families walking out with three or four buggies apiece with groceries spilling over."
It was even more chaotic inside the store.
"When we got inside there were people piled up trying to check out," Siau added.
Word spread fast about the glitch.
"When we were leaving, we heard in the parking lot a lady saying Walmart was giving away free food," Siau explained to KEEL News.
DCFS says Walmart did not follow emergency procedures.
"Those emergency procedures allow retailers to call Xerox and receive authorization for purchases up to $50 in purchases in events when the EBT system is unavailable," Department of Children and Family Services spokesman Trey Williams explain.
According to several accounts, the Springhill and Mansfield Walmarts were authorizing all purchases without calling Xerox.
"Some retailers chose not follow that process and continued to serve customers saving the transactions until the connection is restored," said Williams. "And these businesses are only reimbursed for the amount of benefit on the card."
Walmarts in Shreveport and Bossier City were authorizing purchases up to $90 per shopping cart, which were each processed as separate transactions.
"They will be completely responsible for any additional amounts over the eligible benefit," Williams reiterated.
That means the thousands of dollars in inventory 'purchased' with the EBT cards during Saturday's frenzy will not be reimbursed to Walmart.
No word on any penalties for card holders.