Shoppers cleared the shelves at two Louisiana Wal-Mart stores over the weekend when a glitch in the government's Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system allowed welfare recipients to use their food stamps cards to buy unlimited goods without the usual spending cap.
Managers at Wal-Mart stores in Mansfield and Springhill, La., were forced to call police Saturday after people realized the glitch in the EBT system and rushed to load up carts with as many items as they could hold, CBS affiliate KSLA reported.
"It was worse than any Black Friday," Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd said of the frenzied shopping scene.
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The glitch, which was reportedly caused during a routine maintenance test by EBT card servicer Xerox Corp., made it impossible for cashiers to view card limits.
"We did make the decision to continue to accept EBT cards during the outage so that they could get food for their families," Wal-Mart representative Kayla Whaling told KSLA. She claimed that Wal-Mart was "fully engaged and monitoring the situation and transactions during the outage."
The system began working properly around 9 p.m. Saturday, leading people to abandon their overflowing shopping carts in the aisles.
When the system got back online, one woman had just rung up a $700 bill at the register and was turned away because she had a balance of just 49 cents on her card, Lynd said.
The same EBT card glitch caused just the opposite problem for shoppers in 17 other states over the weekend when their cards wouldn’t go through, according to USA Today.
U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Courtney Rowe emphasized that the outage was not related to the federal government shutdown.
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