Tuesday, August 18, 2009

WIC is Way More Complicated Than You'd Think

WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) vouchers have become the bane of my existence.

Typically, I will process one WIC voucher each day at Walmart. During training, we were strictly instructed that so much as a missing date on the voucher will make it null and void. The state won't pay, and we'll get into trouble. Too many mistakes like this one will cost us our jobs as cashiers, and the Walmart store its WIC acceptance.

Today I had a customer who was definitely struggling with the system. WIC is incredibly particular about brands and sizes of products. She had a voucher for fourteen jars of baby food. She had fourteen jars, but only two of them met WIC's strict guidelines. Eight had DHA added, one was a mix of a fruit and a vegetable, and five had rice and sugar added.

I reviewed the WIC guidelines for baby food with her from the little illustrated pamphlet she had been given, and she returned to try again.

This time she brought back eleven different jars of forbidden baby food, ladened with rice cereal and additives. I asked a manager to come over and review the rules with her once again, because she was insistent that these should be allowed. After a short talk, she set off again, waving off my offers of lending her sample jars to compare to the ones on the shelf.

We repeated this process twice more. I desperately wanted to leave my register, if only to help her find mutually acceptable baby foods and allow her to carry on with her life. However, I couldn't do this in the middle of the transaction, and I couldn't suspend it. Finally, I convinced her to let me scan a few of the acceptable baby food jars multiple times, finish the transaction, and shut down the register to grab the desired products.

Five tries and half an hour from the debacle's beginning, we finally finished, weary and glad to have that behind us. WIC is way more complicated than you'd think.

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