A Walmart Shopping Frenzy After Food Stamp Cards Malfunction

A glitch in the payment cards issued to food stamp recipients meant there were no spending limits

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A technical glitch that eliminated spending limits on the debit cards used for food stamps set off a bizarre shopping frenzy at Walmart stores in Louisiana on Saturday night, local CBS affiliate KSLA reports.

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. Spending limits on the cards were reportedly disabled for about two hours.

When a store in Springhill, La., announced over the loudspeaker that the glitch was fixed, shoppers simply abandoned loaded carts, according to Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd.

Lynd said Walmart’s corporate headquarters told the store to continue selling to EBT card holders despite the glitch. A spokesman for Walmart later told KSLA that the company continued selling to shoppers “so that they could get food for their families.”

Xerox, which runs parts of the EBT system, said a power outage during a routine maintenance test caused the glitch.