BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana taxpayers won't be on the hook for a decision by some Louisiana retailers who allowed holders of government "electronic benefit transfer" cards to make unlimited purchases, even though they could not check card balances.
It happened when an outage interrupted electronic food stamp service in 17 states Saturday. The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/17qhuqz) that cashiers at Wal-Mart stores in Mansfield and Springhill allowed EBT recipients to make unlimited purchases. And some spent well beyond their balances.
Trey Williams, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, said emergency procedures require retailers to call vendor Xerox Corp. for authorization on up to $50 in purchases per card holder.
Williams said Xerox and retailers will have to decide how to address any purchases allowed outside the emergency procedures.
"No funds from our standpoint were utilized. The safeguards the state had in place worked," Williams said. "Any recoupment would be from a retailer standpoint."
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Kayla Whaling said the chain is looking further into the situation before deciding whether to press charges against anyone who overspent their balance.
She would not specify how many dollars Wal-Mart lost, but said it had no material impact on the chain's U.S. business.
"We did continue to accept EBT cards so our customers could continue to buy food and other necessities for their families. The two incidents that did occur in Louisiana are isolated," Whaling said.