Photo: Imgur / Spooiecavalier
Yet another consumer got hit with a ridiculous bill this weekend, this time for a whopping $58,278.35 at the gas station. A Reddit user and boyfriend of the woman posted a screenshot of her banking transactions online.
What doesn’t compute is how the charge went through in the first place. Cashiers are notorious for accidentally overcharging customers, but gas stations run the card before dispensing fuel. They do this for two reasons: to verify the card is active and won’t be declined, and to prevent drive-offs.
“Without it, most stations would either close overnight and allow no purchases, or they’d have to hire an overnight cashier,” one commenter said.
Other stations let people “pay at the pump” by simply inserting their card and punching in their debit card PIN, along with their zip code to verify they’re the card holder. The machine turns on, you pump and then you get a receipt saying how much you paid. In this scenario, the system may have had a glitch and instead of charging $58 and some change, it moved the decimal point over three spaces.
In either case, we’re baffled the woman didn’t flip out and demand the station attendant reverse the charges when she saw the receipt. Although there is a chance she swiped her card as credit, in which case the above wouldn’t apply. As one banker named SnZ001 explained:
“If you swipe your card as ‘credit’ (gas stations) will only authorise for a dollar. Once you fill your tank, they’ll reverse the dollar and place the full purchase amount as an authorization.
However, when they send the final clearing transaction through that may differ depending on the merchant. The transaction got pre-authorised against the account for a dollar most likely, and when the second authorization came in, they made the mistake with the numbers. At that point, your bank cannot refuse the purchase because the initial authorization was approved on your account.”
So what’s the poor woman to do? First, she should call up her bank to dispute the charge and put a hold on her account, then consider contacting the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or filing a complaint with them online.
“They take these things pretty seriously,” SnZ001 said.