A food stamp glitch at Wal-Mart stores in Louisiana resulted in out-of-control Wal-Mart shoppers who were able to use their food stamp EBT cards with no purchase or spending limit. “Customers cleared shelves and police were called in to control crowds taking advantage of suddenly unlimited spending allowed on their Electronic Benefits Transfer cards, which are issued to recipients of government food stamps,” reported the Time on Oct. 14, 2013.
The cause of the food stamp glitch was due to a power outage at Xerox, the company that handles the EBT cards. While the power outage caused other EBT users in 17 states not to be able to use their EBT cards at all, the Wal-Mart food stamp glitch on Saturday night allowed customers in some Wal-Mart stores in Louisiana to shop without spending limits.
Due to the food stamp glitch, the Wal-Mart stores in Louisiana turned into a frenzy and chaos with customers clearing out all shelves, leaving nothing behind.
According to a local KSLA report, the chaos that followed once customers discovered the food stamp glitch, and that they could use their EBT cards for unlimited purchases “required intervention from local police.”
“Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd confirmed police officers were called in to help the employees at Walmart because there were so many people clearing off the shelves. He says Walmart was so packed, ‘it was worse than any black Friday' that he's ever seen.”
According to Police Chief Will Lynd, when the EBT cards were not showing spending limits, Wal-Mart associates called corporate Wal-Mart, “whose spokesman said to let the people use the cards anyway.”
The food stamp glitch and the resulting “free for all” Wal-Mart purchase frenzy lasted from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
By the time the food stamp glitch was fixed and the purchase frenzy ended, the Wal-Mart stores looked like a stampede of customers had run through the stores.
"Just about everything is gone, I've never seen it in that condition," said Mansfield Walmart customer Anthony Fuller.
When Wal-Mart customers were informed over the loud speaker that the food stamp glitch had been fixed and that the unlimited spending spree was over, customers just left their overflowing shopping carts in the aisles and left.
Following the food stamp glitch stampede on Saturday, Wal-Mart employees spend the next day trying to restore the Wal-Mart stores to a more civilized place.
O.J. Evans, who is a Mansfield Wal-Mart employee and who took a cell phone video of the consequences of the food stamp glitch, commented that “I was just thinking, I'm so glad my mom doesn't work here [Walmart] anymore, that's the only thing I could think about, those employees working, that would have to restock all that stuff.”
While some witnesses described the Wal-Mart customers’ reaction to the food stamp glitch as “plain theft, that's stealing that's all I got to say about it,” Wal-Mart employee O.J. Evans said that he “believes it was natural human reaction that led people to fill up their carts during the glitch.”