10.54.03.15 - Required Vendor Practices

10.54.03.15. Required Vendor Practices

A. The State agency or its representative shall conduct inventory audits, compliance buys, and monitoring to ensure that authorized vendors comply with required vendor practices.

B. General Requirements.

(1) A vendor shall:

(a) Maintain on the store premises, available for immediate purchase by a WIC participant during regular business hours, the minimum required stock;

(b) Post the State agency's WIC sign in a conspicuous place on the store premises and use other materials provided or approved by the WIC program;

(c) Maintain the vendor premises in a sanitary condition with no evidence of:

(i) Excess trash;

(ii) Vermin; or

(iii) General lack of cleanliness;

(d) Display a current food service facility license, issued by the local health department or department of environment, or if a pharmacy only or a food store/pharmacy combination, a pharmacy permit issued by the State Board of Pharmacy, in a location visible to Program representatives;

(e) Train vendor personnel in WIC policies and procedures;

(f) Display the shelf price of a WIC food at, on, or near the item;

(g) Treat individuals redeeming food instruments the same as other customers;

(h) Submit information requested by the State agency by the date requested;

(i) Attend a WIC training that has been required by the Program for a vendor with a high rate of:

(i) Errors;

(ii) Rejected transactions;

(iii) Complaints; or

(iv) Other minor violations;

(j) Provide WIC foods in a store at a fixed location;

(k) If a pharmacy only or a food store/pharmacy combination:

(i) Upon request by a participant or the Program, provide infant formulas and medical foods within 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays;

(ii) Only accept the food instrument after obtaining the requested formula; and

(iii) If a pharmacy only vendor, only accept food instruments prescribing infant formula and WIC-eligible medical foods;

(l) Maintain accounting records that are relevant to the vendor's performance under the vendor agreement for 3 years, for review at reasonable times by State agency representatives or other authorized State or federal officials;

(m) If a SNAP vendor, remain in good standing and not be assessed a money penalty by the SNAP;

(n) Give 30 days notice to the State agency of the store's closing, relocation, or change in ownership;

(o) Pay, by the date due, money penalties imposed by the State agency and excess charges;

(p) Submit the vendor price list form when requested to do so by the State agency;

(q) For the food packages set forth in Regulation .06A of this chapter, maintain prices that are less than or equal to 125 percent of the peer group average as determined by the WIC Management Information System calculation for each food package;

(r) Have a representative attend and participate in at least one State or local agency interactive training session each calendar year, if the State agency:

(i) Gives the vendor 14 days notice of a scheduled training session; and

(ii) Holds the training session in the vendor's region;

(s) If more than 30 days are needed to reopen the vendor's business, reapply for authorization and be approved as a WIC vendor in order to obtain authorization to operate as a WIC Vendor; and

(t) Maintain an active email account that is monitored no less than once a week.

(2) A vendor may not:

(a) Charge WIC participants a higher price for food than other customers;

(b) Violate the nondiscrimination provisions of federal regulations in 7 CFR 15, 15 a, and 15b, as incorporated by reference in Regulation .02 of this chapter;

(c) Provide false information to the Program;

(d) Except for a pharmacy or military commissary, process fewer than 25 WIC transactions in a consecutive 3-month period;

(e) Intentionally submit false prices on the vendor price list form or the State agency's online system;

(f) Use the WIC acronym or WIC logo, or close facsimiles, in the name of the vendor or in advertising or other promotional materials;

(g) Apply stickers, tags, or labels that have the WIC acronym or logo on WIC-approved products;

(h) Use manufacturer supplied shelf tags, talkers, or labels that make unauthorized use of the WIC acronym or logo;

(i) Apply WIC-approved shelf tags to nonapproved foods; or

(j) Derive more than 50 percent of its annual eligible foodssales from WIC food benefits.

(3) Accounting Records. Accounting records shall include, but are not limited to:

(a) Sales and use tax returns;

(b) U.S. individual or business tax returns;

(c) Daily sales journals or daily ledgers;

(d) Sales receipts or register tape;

(e) Inventory invoices; and

(f) A breakdown of sales between SNAP eligible foods and non-eligible foods.

(4) Inventory Invoices.

(a) Inventory invoices shall include the:

(i) Name and address of the supplier;

(ii) Date of purchase;

(iii) Description of the exact items purchased, including size, stock number, and UPC code if available;

(iv) Unit price of the items;

(v) Total quantity purchased; and

(vi) If inventory invoices do not completely describe the actual item, verifiable computer codes for the item.

(b) Inventory invoices for infant formula shall only be accepted from those wholesalers, distributors, and retailers listed on Maryland's Authorized Infant Formula and Medical Foods Supplier Directory.

(5) A vendor who violates the provisions set forth in this section is subject to the sanctions in Regulation .16 of this chapter.

C. Transactional Requirements.

(1) A vendor shall:

(a) Provide authorized foods to an individual redeeming food benefits only upon presentation of a valid food instrument;

(b) Accept the WIC food instrument with a valid PIN as identification without requiring another form of identification;

(c) At the time of purchase, give a participant a receipt indicating the store name, date of transaction, and total dollar amount for items purchased with a food instrument and that the sale was a WIC transaction;

(d) Provide the WIC participant with a shopping list of remaining benefits upon request;

(e) Accept a food instrument only for authorized food brands, quantities, and types and as prescribed on the food instrument;

(f) Accept cents-off coupons from an individual redeeming WIC food instruments for prescribed approved foods and deduct savings from the purchase price;

(g) Allow the use of bonus or club cards, buy one, get one free, and any other promotion offered to store customers that does not involve cash back;

(h) Accept a valid food instrument as payment in full for the prescribed WIC foods purchased;

(i) Allow participants and proxies authorized to redeem food benefits a choice of the WIC-approved foods in the participant's benefits balance;

(j) Allow the purchase of the full amount or less than the full amount of food on a food instrument;

(k) Redeem valid food instruments presented by a participant or proxy;

(l) Scan the actual UPC code that is affixed to the item being purchased by the WIC participant;

(m) Allow the participant to pay the difference when a fruit and vegetable purchase exceeds the value of the cash value benefit; and

(n) Obtain infant formula only from manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers listed on Maryland's Authorized Infant Formula and Medical Foods Supplier Directory, as available on the Program's website.

(2) A vendor may not:

(a) Ask a participant or proxy for the PIN securing their food instrument;

(b) Redeem food benefits for spoiled or out-of-date food;

(c) Redeem food benefits in whole or in part for a non-food item or credit;

(d) Issue a rain check that would allow an individual redeeming a food benefit to get, at a later date, an item the vendor does not have at the time the food instrument is presented;

(e) Transfer cash in the form of change from the food benefit to an individual redeeming a food instrument;

(f) Collect sales tax on WIC food purchases;

(g) Traffic in WIC food instruments or benefits;

(h) Sell alcohol, alcoholic beverages, or tobacco products in exchange for a food instrument or benefits;

(i) Accept a food instrument or benefits in exchange for:

(i) Ammunition;

(ii) A firearm;

(iii) An explosive; or

(iv) A controlled substance as defined by 21 U.S.C. ยง 802;

(j) Manually key in a food instrument number without an actual food instrument being presented; or

(k) Scan UPC codes from:

(i) Codebooks;

(ii) Reference sheets; or

(iii) Lists.

(3) A vendor may not provide solely to participants incentive items or other free merchandise, including food.

(4) A vendor who violates the provisions of this section is subject to the sanctions in Regulation .16 of this chapter.

D. Post-Transactional Requirements.

(1) A vendor may not:

(a) Notify the Program of attempted or actual misuse of WIC food instruments by a participant or other individual;

(b) Receive reimbursement only for benefits redeemed at the vendor's store;

(c) Charge the State agency only for approved food received by a participant;

(d) Reimburse the Program for the loss sustained by the Program due to theft, fraud, or improper handling of food instruments by vendor personnel or agents; and

(e) Surrender lost or stolen food instruments to WIC representatives upon request.

(2) A vendor may not:

(a) Permit the return of food purchased with a food instrument in exchange for cash or another item;

(b) Claim reimbursement for the sale of an amount of a specific food item that exceeds the vendor's documented inventory of that item for a specific period of time; or

(c) Claim reimbursement for vendor bank fees.

(3) A vendor who violates the provisions of this section is subject to the sanctions in Regulation .16 of this chapter.

(Regulations .15 adopted as an emergency provision effective November 1, 1995 (22:22 Md. R. 1655 and 22:23 Md. R. 1796); emergency status expired May 1, 1996 Regulations .15 adopted effective May 2, 1996 (23:6 Md. R. 476) Regulations .15 amended as an emergency provision effective November 1, 1996 (23:24 Md. R. 1679); amended permanently effective February 24, 1997 (24:4 Md. R. 292) Regulations .15 amended as an emergency provision effective October 1, 2002 (29:23 Md. R. 1807); amended permanently effective March 31, 2003 (30:6 Md. R. 421) Regulations .15 amended as an emergency provision effective December 15, 2006 (34:1 Md. R. 29); amended permanently effective April 9, 2007 (34:7 Md. R. 699) Regulations .15 amended as an emergency provision effective December 22, 2004 (32:1 Md. R. 25); amended permanently effective March 14, 2005 (32:5 Md. R. 581) Regulations .15B, C amended as an emergency provision effective November 3, 2008 (35:24 Md. R. 2069); amended permanently effective February 9, 2009 (36:3 Md. R. 209) Regulation .15B, C amended as an emergency provision effective October 5, 2011 (38:23 Md. R. 1416); amended permanently effective December 26, 2011 (38:26 Md. R. 1697) Regulations .15B, C amended as an emergency provision effective October 1, 2012 (39:22 Md. R. 1427); amended permanently effective 40:4 Md. R. 347, eff. 3/4/2013 Regulations .15B, C amended as an emergency provision effective September 16, 2009 (36:21 Md. R. 1587); amended permanently effective December 14, 2009 (36:25 Md. R. 1955) Regulation .15B amended effective 41:9 Md. R. 521, eff. 5/12/2014 ; amended effective 44:5 Md. R. 293, eff. 3/13/2017; amended effective 47:20 Md. R. 875, eff. 10/5/2020)

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