When the system that handles Electronic Benefits Transfer or EBT went offline on October 12, retailers across 17 states saw a run on the shelves that rivaled the height of Black Friday shopping.
According to KSLA, many stores “followed contractual requirements to set a $50 limit and call for authorization of charges during a system outage.” However, Wal-Mart’s corporate decision-makers said their stores allowed the transactions without checking the limits.
According to Fox News, retailers, “not taxpayers, are on the hook for the excess money spent at the locations.” However, the stores in question have the right to seek charges against those who took advantage of the glitch.
Yet, according to a statement from the Many, La. Police Department’s Facebook page, “after reviewing surveillance tapes and interviewing witnesses, Walmart has no evidence of any theft, nor any other criminal activity during the October 12th disturbance at the store.” Since it was the responsibility of the retailer to verify the transaction limits on the cards, those who took advantage of the glitch did not technically commit a crime.
Governor Bobby Jindal’s office “vowed,” according to The Advocate, “to strip food stamp benefits from recipients who misled retailers about their spending limits.” After the system came back online, at least “12,000 transactions generated insufficient funds notices” when service was restored. Those who are found to have abused the system intentionally could face losing their benefits for at least a year or even permanently.
Still with the news that food stamp cuts were coming right before the holidays, many can’t blame people for attempting to stock up on food items. Perhaps if benefit recipients felt more secure in their ability to feed themselves or their families, less would have abused the glitch. It remains unclear how many of the 12,000 benefits recipients stand to lose their benefits.