|$10 Surcharge for Pay-at-Pump Gasoline|
|Netlore Archive: Forwarded email claims a customer buying gasoline at a Bloomington, Minnesota gas station was charged an extra $10 for paying at the pump with a bank card|
Email example contributed by N. Pierson, 11 May 2004:
Subject: FW: ANYONE WHO BUYS GAS WITH A CARD
I received this from a friend of mine and am passing it on for information to all of you.
ANYONE WHO BUYS GAS WITH A CARD
IMPORTANT INFORMATION - PLEASE READ THIS!!!!
This came from a friend of mine who works for Hennepin County. Beware! This message below came from another county employee:
I just want to inform you of something my husband and I found out this weekend. We stopped at the BP(old Amoco) gas station last week and we used our bank card as usual to buy gas and a car wash. This weekend we noticed a $10 charge from a Timothy Schlangen on our on line bank statement and called the bank thinking someone had used our card without authorization. Low and behold the bank informed us that gas stations are starting to charge you $10 to use your card at the pump. The bank said that the authoriztion flashes very quick on the little screen (we didn't see it). It does not show on your receipt either. It only shows up on your bank statement. So if you only want $5.00 worth of gas it will cost you $15.00. How many people are bouncing checks because they don't ! know this?
Here is the address of the station that we know does this
I checked with the web site for low gas prices in the area and they were listed at $1.69 but with a $10 charge if you use your card to buy it.
What a rip off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
PLEASE INFORM YOUR AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN ABOUT THIS.
Comments: I called the service station at the above address in Bloomington, Minnesota and was told this rumor is categorically false. "We don't charge people $10 to pay at the pump," said the employee I spoke with. "I don't know how this got started, but it isn't true."
To give the author of the email the benefit of the doubt, it's possible she mistook a temporary "hold" or "block" on her card for an actual charge. Pre-authorization holds are quite common in credit and debit card transactions, including pay-at-the-pump fuel purchases, where the final amount of the sale isn't known when the card is swiped. First Interstate Bank explains the practice thus:
When you present your check card at a gas pump, the actual amount of gas you are purchasing is not available. In order for the system to provide an authorization an amount must be present. Since the amount of the purchase is not known until the gas has been pumped an amount determined by the gas station is transmitted. The amount can vary and may be as high as $100. In most cases the gas station will send an authorization for $1. The estimated total could stay on the system for 1 - 3 days until the clearing item for the amount actually charged reaches the Issuer (FIB).
Though pre-authorization holds are nothing new, they are apparently a growing source of bafflement to consumers due to the speediness of Internet banking. Such charges rarely showed up in monthly, snail-mailed statements, but now that users can log on daily or even hourly to check the status of their bank accounts online, they are all too often chagrined to find inexplicable charges or fees which, just as inexplicably, disappear within a day or two. As one Bank of America representative put it the Nashville City Paper, "With online banking, customers now have the option to access the information too soon.
Spoken like a true banker.
Sources and further reading:
Beware of the Block
First Interstate Bank FAQ
First Interstate Bank
Web Speed Brings Woes for Eateries
Nashville City Paper, 6 June 2003
Last updated: 05/11/04