When A Real EBT Outage Hits, Customers Freak Out And Don’t Get To Buy Food

This weekend’s 17-state EBT glitch was a disturbing lesson in human nature, with customers at one Louisiana Walmart cleaning off shelves when their cards showed no limit, and abandoning entire carts when their transactions didn’t go through. Reader N. works at a retailer somewhere in the Midwest, and reports that a much smaller government benefits system outage on Monday had very distressing results at her store.

Local grocery stores and the pharmacy chains could not use the EBT or SNAP benefits cards at all. I had a customer almost in tears because she was worried the government shutdown led to this, and that many will go hungry now.

I even wanted to ask my manager if we employees could pool our discounts to help people in need. I felt that awful. Thankfully, it was an issue with Xerox that lasted for FOUR HOURS. Long enough, in my opinion, to worry families that need assistance. Xerox apparently did a system update that triggered a glitch in the system. For us, it completely locked EBT (perhaps the same glitch caused the unlimited EBT?)

The unlimited EBT glitch only appears to have happened at that one store in Louisiana, which is why Walmart and Xerox keep pointing fingers at each other. Over the weekend, other stores had issues similar to N’s store, where benefit card transactions simply wouldn’t go through. N. is a credit to humanity for wanting to lend her employee discount to customers.

In Mississippi, customers tried to walk out with their groceries when transactions wouldn’t go through, which is an understandable reaction when you have no food at home. Walmart didn’t rule out pressing charges against these customers, since they were technically stealing. (Is it “shoplifting” when you have a cart full of groceries?)