Asda scraps £99 petrol station charge after facing backlash
Supermarket giant Asda has been forced to suspend the its £99 authorisation charge, after facing backlash from disgruntled customers.
The charge debited £99 from their account on top of the purchase as a way to ensure there was enough money in the account to pay for the fuel.
However, the money would never actually leave the account but disappear from the balance until the fuel was paid for.
Asda has now ditched the charge following complaints from the public including Jade Louise, 22, who claimed the supermarket has “taken” £99 from her account before she filled up as part of a trial.
The student’s revelation prompted a consumer backlash over industry-wide plans for the charge and forced Asda to back down.
Jade, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, said: “I still can’t quite believe it. I only posted it to warn others of the new system because Asda wasn’t doing it.
“Not everyone can afford to not have access to £99 even if only for a few days. “All I did was speak out about the issue, the rest was down to the community of Facebook.”
She added: “I’m just so glad that I’ve been able to help make Asdasee sense and realise how unrealistic that new system was.
“I am happy they have stopped the trials. I can’t say it hasn’t damaged the trust I had in them.
“I understand that Visa and MasterCard increased the pre-authorisation amount last year and that’s why Asda trialled this but it wasn’t fair to not let customers know of this change by at least putting up signs.” Jade said she was baffled as to what Asda were trying to achieve with the trials.
“I think it was unrealistic and they haven’t thought carefully enough about what could go wrong and how it could negatively impact their customers.
“They haven’t been able to guarantee return of funds within minutes as promised whether that’s down to the bank orAsda, there is clearly faults in the system.
“I don’t understand why they don’t let you select your own debit amount, pay and then have the machine cut off once you reach that amount, or better yet bring back manned stations and give people work.
“I hope Asda can come up with a system that works for them and their customers and I wish them all the best with it and I hope in future they notify customers when and if there is a change to prevent situations like this.”
A pre-authorisation charge is taken at the beginning of a ‘pay-at-pump’ transaction to verify the card and it used to be just £1, to check it had funds.
Last year, both Visa and MasterCard introduced new industry rules regarding pre-authorisation charges.
The amount was increased to £99 to protect both the store and customer.
This £99 is to ensure the amount for the fuel, which may be a lot less, could be covered by the customer’s bank balance.
Asda have now announced that the store would suspend the scheme until it could be confident that money would not be held by individual banks and would be immediately refunded.
In a statement, Asda said: “The intention of Visa and MasterCard in this trial was to ensure customers had sufficient funds in their account to pay for their fuel, and the £99 would be immediately released back to customers by their bank.
“Whilst we have received very few complaints about this process, until we can be given assurance that all banks are able to comply with the Visa and MasterCard rule change, we cannot continue to implement this change and risk harming our customers’ trust in us.”
On Tuesday A MasterCard spokesman said: “Last year a change in industry rules meant that petrol stations with automated fuel pumps were required to pre-authorise a value equivalent to a full tank of fuel, so that customers didn’t fill up with more fuel than they could afford.” “This is designed to protect them, and the petrol station.”
A Visa spokesman said: “The way that pay-at-pump fuel payments are treated has been standardised across the industry to ensure security for individual cardholders, retailers and card issuers.
“When an individual chooses to pay at a pay-at-pump fuel dispenser, an initial amount is held against their account while they dispense their fuel to ensure that they have sufficient funds to pay for the cost of their fuel.
“This initial amount should be adjusted immediately after fuel is dispensed to reflect the actual cost of the fuel.
“Visa has been working closely with card issuing banks to ensure that consumers do not experience delays in the adjustment of the initially-held amount, however if consumers notice that initial amounts held against their accounts are not adjusted immediately, they should raise this with their card issuing bank in the first instance.”
Morrisons and Sainsbury’s have confirmed they have not yet implemented this at any of their petrol stations. Tesco have not responded when asked for a comment.