Frenzied Shoppers Empty Walmarts After Food Stamp Glitch

Company decided to allow purchases despite card error

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 14, 2013 2:23 PM CDT

(Newser) – Thanks to a much-publicized glitch that shut down food stamp programs in 17 states this weekend, food-stamp debit cards stopped showing spending limits in some areas—and Louisiana Walmart shoppers wasted no time in cashing in on the situation. They raided store shelves at two different locations, causing such a ruckus that police had to be called in to monitor the situation, KSLA reports. "Just about everything is gone; I've never seen it in that condition," says a Mansfield shopper. "It was worse than any Black Friday," adds Springhill's police chief.

After cards stopped showing limits, Walmart execs instructed the stores to continue allowing purchases. "We did make the decision to continue to accept EBT cards ... during the outage so that they could get food for their families," says a company rep. For two hours, shoppers swarmed. Around 9pm, the system started working again. That foiled, for instance, a customer who'd collected $700 worth of stuff with only 49 cents on her card; company bosses said they'd let her off the hook if she left the items in the store. Afterward, packed carts were abandoned all over the place, leaving a big cleanup for staff. Walmart didn't make clear how it would address the financial hit.

A screen grab from KSLA video.
A screen grab from KSLA video.   (KSLA video)
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