Monday, October 14, 2013

Dry Run? (Updated)

The electronic system used by welfare recipients to purchase food with payment cards went offline about 11 a.m. Saturday in Louisiana and many other states.
By 6:30 p.m., the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services reported some service restored.
“The contractor that maintains SNAP EBT services for the state of Louisiana has informed DCFS that some store systems that handle EBT transactions have returned to service. The contractor expects additional stores to do the same in the next few hours.”
Electronic Benefit Transfer is a method of delivering governmental benefits to recipients electronically. Louisiana uses magnetic stripe card technology. The card, which is referred to as the Louisiana Purchase Card enables recipients to access benefits at Point-of-Sale machines.
People in Louisiana and several other states found themselves unable to use their food stamp debit cards after a routine check by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a system failure. Shoppers had to abandon baskets of groceries because they couldn’t access their benefits.
 KSLA News from Mansfield, LA (h/t Weasel Zippers) also reported:

Shelves in Walmart stores in Springhill and Mansfield, LA were reportedly cleared Saturday night, when the stores allowed purchases on EBT cards even though they were not showing limits.  
The chaos that followed ultimately required intervention from local police, and left behind numerous carts filled to overflowing, apparently abandoned when the glitch-spurred shopping frenzy ended.  
Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd confirms they were called in to help the employees at Walmart because there were so many people clearing off the shelves. He says Walmart was so packed, "It was worse than any black Friday" that he's ever seen. 
Lynd explained the cards weren't showing limits and they called corporate Walmart, whose spokesman  said to let the people use the cards anyway. From 7 to 9 p.m., people were loading up their carts, but when the cards began showing limits again around 9, one woman was detained because she rang up a bill of $700.00 and only had .49 on her card. She was held by police until corporate Walmart said they wouldn't press charges if she left the food.  
Lynd says at 9 p.m., when the cards came back online and it was announced over the loud speaker, people just left their carts full of food in the aisles and left. 
"Just about everything is gone, I've never seen it in that condition," said Mansfield Walmart customer Anthony Fuller. 
Walmart employees could still be seen putting food from the carts away as late as Sunday afternoon.
 Update: The Daily Caller posts some video of man-on-the-street interviews with people angry over the shutdown, including this gem:
“They had better resolve something because if it stays like this there is gona be a uproar in the city of L.A.,” one public assistance layabout intoned. When asked to elaborate, he responded, “A Rodney King, baby” 
The Rodney King riots, which went on for six-day in 1992 in South Central L.A., stemmed from the acquittal of four Los Angeles Police Department officers on charges of police brutality for the videotaped beating of King. Fifty-three people died in the riots and more than 2,000 people were injured.
(H/t Weasel Zippers).

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