Guess Who’s Footing the Bill for That Walmart Food Stamp Fiasco (It May Not Be Who You Think)
Oct. 15, 2013 11:36am Becket Adams
Walmart will be on the hook for the glitch-prompted shopping spree that nearly wiped out stores in Louisiana after the Electronic Benefit Transfer system temporarily removed spending limits on food stamp recipients’ cards.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, which oversees the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, said Walmart will have to foot the bill for store losses in Springhill and Mansfield, La., during a food shopping frenzy.
No card is limitless, DCFS spokesman Trey Willims told KSLA-TV. Usually when outages occur, he said, it’s the store’s responsibility to take action, include calling a number to verify customers’ card limits.
But some retailers chose not to do that Saturday night.
“These businesses are only reimbursed for the benefits on the card, and they are completely responsible. So if someone had $50 dollars on their card, and they spent $100, the retailer, in this case Walmart, would be on the hook for the other $50,” he said.
The no-limits glitch occurred as the EBT system failed Saturday in several states during a routine backup test. Walmart employees knew immediately that something was wrong, but were advised by the corporate office to allow shoppers to make their purchases. Some stores, however, chose to close until the situation had been resolved.
The system was back on online by Saturday night, but not before the Springhill Walmart was nearly wiped out.
“It was definitely worse than Black Friday. It was worse than anything we had ever seen in this town. There was no food left on any of the shelves, and no meat left. The grocery part of Walmart was totally decimated,” Springhill Police Chief Will Lyn told ABC News.
Does Walmart have any recourse? It may.
According to KSLA, Louisiana can track welfare fraud with GPS based software. Therefore, DCFS knows who bought what, and how much was supposedly “spent.”
Law enforcement officials can obtain that information and can pass it along should stores request it, KSLA reported.
But it’s also possible Walmart could choose to eat the loss.
“We did make the decision to continue to accept EBT cards during the outage so that they could get food for their families,” Walmart representative Kayla Whaling told KSLA.