'£100 petrol charge meant I couldn't buy my kid's dinner'

Mother of one unable to pay for shopping after £100 hold for fuel didn't get released back

A mother-of-one has been unable to pay for her shopping after the £100 hold for fuel was not released - Martyn James, inset, gives his expert comment on the situation. - Credit: Submitted

A hard-working mum was left humiliated at the supermarket check-outs when her card was declined due to an £100 holding fee from the petrol station.

Megan Latham visited Sainsbury's at Longwater to get some fuel for her car and do the family's weekly shop.

However the 25-year-old got a nasty surprise when she went to pay.

Despite only putting £20 of fuel in her car, £100 had been held against her card, as part of a new industry requirement by VISA and MasterCard.

Megan, a mum of one, said: "I think it’s ridiculous. It would better if you input the amount of fuel you want and then you put your card in and they approve that amount - instead of holding £100.

"The reason I used the pay at pump service was because my daughter was asleep in the car so I didn't want to leave her unattended or disturb her.

"When I got to the till and went to pay for my shopping my card got declined."

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A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “Last year under new industry requirements mandated by VISA and MasterCard, a £100 pre-authorisation amount was added to our self-service pumps to make sure customers have sufficient funds to cover the cost of the fuel that’s dispensed.

“When the transaction has completed, the pay at pump terminal will send a message to a customer’s bank with the actual transaction amount which will be charged to the customer.

"The pre-authorisation amount will be almost immediately released back to the customer’s account, so if any customer experiences issues with a transaction we recommend they contact their bank for support."

But Megan added: "I spoke to the manager at Sainsbury's and they said it can take up to three days for the pre-authorisation to be released.

"More than a day later I still had not got my money back.

"Many people can't be out of pocket for £100 for that length of time - although they don't take the money it's still not available.

"I'm now going to incur charges from my bank as it has taken me overdrawn."

Martyn James says the pre-authorisation at the pay-at-pump stops should be lifted as soon as fuel is paid for.

Martyn James, head of media at Resolver Group, says the pre-authorisation at the pay-at-pump stops should be lifted once you have paid for your fuel. - Credit: Martyn James

What the experts say

Martyn James, at Resolver Group, thinks the petrol pump mix-up should not be happening.

He said: "I’ve been assured by all the main credit and debit card providers that this kind of petrol pump automatic hold on your cash should not be happening.

"The system works by ‘reserving’ a £100 payment on your account just to make sure you don’t drive off without paying.

"But as soon as you fill up the tank, the pump should only actually debit what you’ve used – and the ‘hold’ on your cash should be lifted there and then.

"If this doesn’t happen, call your card provider and ask them to sort out a credit extension without charge on your card to get you through the day while this is sorted.

"But make a formal complaint to the pump operator, telling them about the impact on you."