Angry drivers have attacked Tesco for blocking £120 on their debit or credit cards when they use them to pay at the fuel pump – even though they spend far less on fuel.
Over the past month, the amount customers can pay on a single fill-up has risen from £99 to £120 at Tesco and Esso Alliance forecourts across the UK due to rising fuel costs, but this means the pre-authorisation amount – the amount that is temporarily put on hold on your card – has also increased to £120.
The measure aims to prevent people from driving off without paying for fuel or filling their cars with more than they can afford and being unable to pay. Before that it only reserved £1, but last year Tesco, along with several other supermarkets, changed the way they sold fuel in a small number of forecourts, which involved ‘reserving’ £99 on customers’ accounts when paying at the pump.
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Tesco said the new system was due to Visa and Mastercard payment rules and the £120 should be returned immediately after the sale, but some angry drivers took to Twitter to complain about waiting several hours or , in some cases, several days for the hold to be lifted.
@SocialistPlus said: “Pay at the pump this morning. £120 was deducted from our bank account along with £60 for fuel. They say the £120 is a holding charge to ensure enough money is available , refunded within 4 hours. 7 hours later and nothing. Has anyone else experienced this?” while @Kfooz21 asked: “Can anyone contact me about this a payment at the pump that has been pending from a bank account for a week! An absolute shame!!! You took the actual payment so why is £120 still pending. No one seems ready to fix this problem.”
Tesco responded on Twitter: ‘Once you’ve filled up we let the bank know exactly how much you’ve filled up and the rest of the pre-authorized amount is returned to your account within the hour’, but customers lambasted the system. , with @ldthompson92 replying: “What a joke. You took £120 on Friday plus £17.51 for fuel. It’s now Monday and I still haven’t got it back. Please explain what makes sense and why does anyone should continue to use the system?
@MichelleThomps1 said: “That’s stupid. There’s no way you can get the bank to give it back to you. You took 120 out and the 17 out of the account. Surely that’s theft!”
Tesco changed the way it sold fuel in some forecourts last year. Some Tesco petrol garages are still only charging £1 from accounts – but the new £120 verification system will roll out to all of them by the end of the year. The system only affects pay-at-the-pump transactions – if you pay at the kiosk, you’ll still only be charged for what you bought.
Tesco said if a customer doesn’t have £120 in their account, the pump will tell them how much they have available and allow them to fill up to that amount.
Asda and Sainsbury’s are still only pre-authorizing £99 and £100 respectively.
Mastercard told The Sun: “While customers may notice in their banking apps an initial transaction for a ‘pre-authorized’ amount greater than the fuel they purchased, this is very temporary as almost immediately after the sale, the exact value of fuel dispensed is withdrawn from their account, and any balance of the pre-authorized amount is released for use.