Problems involving Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, the government payments to the poor that are administered by states with the help of private companies, plagued at least 17 states Saturday and Sunday, creating retail riots. At Louisiana stores in Springhill and Mansfield, cards registered no spending limits, prompting recipients to go on buying binges.
"It was worse than any Black Friday,” Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd told local station KSLA-TV.
Customers said shelves were picked clean in a mob scene that left employees rattled. Walmart spokeswoman Kayla Whaling told the station the company made a conscious decision to keep ringing up goods rather than to cut people off.
"We did make the decision to continue to accept EBT cards (and purchases on WIC and SNAP) during the outage so that they could get food for their families," she said.
But when order was restored and the cards began reading properly, it became clear that some customers were out to take advantage of the taxpayer-funded program. One woman had $700 worth of merchandise in her cart and an EBT card with a balance of just 49 cents.
Edited by Burt Gummer, 14 October 2013 - 08:29 PM.