Bentonville, Ark. – A computer glitch reportedly eliminated limits on the debit card limits of food stamp recipients in some Wal-Mart stores in northern Louisiana on Oct. 12. According to Reuters, managers of Wal-Mart stores in Springhill, and Mansfield, La., called local police when large numbers of shoppers began coming in and purchasing huge volumes of products on electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards that had no credit limit.
The glitch resulted from a power outage at Xerox, which operates EBT processing systems under contract from the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. Spokespeople for Wal-Mart and Louisiana state officials told Reuters that Xerox is responsible for the incident, while Xerox said it has a documented process for retailers to follow in the event of an EBT outage.
Although Wal-Mart had the right to stop accepting EBT payments until the problem was fixed, store managers who called corporate headquarters were reportedly told to keep accepting them. Other area grocery stores reportedly stopped accepting EBT payments during the glitch. Shoppers who used their EBT cards beyond normal credit limits did not break any laws and it is currently unclear how much extra money was spent or whether Wal-Mart, Xerox or both will cover the cost.