Some motorists have been left angered by Sainsburys and Tesco after discovering a number of locations now take a £99 deposit from bank accounts when paying for fuel at the pump.
Both supermarkets upped the pre-authorisation checks from its previous £1 this month, Sainsbury’s at a small percentage of forecourts and one at Tesco. It is likely to be rolled out nationwide later in the year.
The charge is in place to help prevent drivers budget, Tesco said, but also to stop those with not enough money in their bank accounts from filling up their cars.
Currently many drivers are using pay at the pump services to avoid face-to-face interaction due to the pandemic and lengthy queues as more motorists return to the road as lockdown measures are eased.
Drivers are not happy with the new charging system at the supermarkets pay at pump stations
However, this news may make them decide to pay at the kiosk instead with others threatening to buy their fuel elsewhere.
But card providers and supermarkets insist the change is beneficial for drivers.
This is Money takes a look at the changes and how they could affect you.
How does it work?
A customer will insert their card at the pay at pump service where the pump will send a funds-check to their bank to reserve £99.
This is to check they have sufficient funds in their account to cover the cost of their fuel.
The bank will get this check and, depending on the funds available in the account, will either accept the full amount or propose a lower amount.
If a customer does not have £99 available in their account, the pump will tell them how much they have available and allow them to refuel up to this amount.
Once a customer has finished filling up, the fuel pump will immediately notify their bank of the actual value of the petrol they purchased with the unused amount released back to their account within the hour.
Previously, £1 was pre-authorised, with the full amount debited later on. Tesco says this risked customers spending more money than they had available.
It also meant that if they do not have enough in their account, they could potentially drive off without paying the full amount.
Tesco is trialling the new scheme at its Stevenage Broadwater store and, if successful, will roll it out UK wide later this year.
Sainsbury’s added the charge is currently in a small percentage of its petrol filling stations and, again, will likely roll it out all stores at a later date.
Tesco said that it has decided to make the decision after discussions with Visa and Mastercard
Why is it changing?
Tesco said that it has decided to make the decision after discussions with Visa and Mastercard.
It said many customers card issuer declines the £1 pre-authorisation transaction but with the changes, those customers should be able to use this service.
It added it was also making these changes to help customers keep an eye on their finances.
In the past, when a customer used a self-service pump to buy fuel, the exact cost would only show up against their account balance one or two days later which could make it hard for customers to track their daily spend.
Now, when the money is withheld, it should be returned near instantly or at least within the hour.
If, however, this doesn’t happen, customers are urged to speak to their bank.
It is also worth pointing out that these high pre-authorisation limits have been around in the past, and it is not a new concept for fuel retailers.
The pre-authorisation charge is to check drivers have enough in their accounts before paying
Are other stores following suit?
This is Money has contacted Morrisons and Asda to see if they will be following Tesco and Sainsburys in changing the way it charges.
Neither had provided comment by the time of publication.
However, it is likely that if Tesco and Sainsburys are changing their policy, Morrisons and Asda will as well.
What has the reaction been?
Some frustrated customers said they are unhappy with the changes with several saying they will be going elsewhere to get their fuel.
One Twitter user said they will be going elsewhere to get their fuel due to the changes
This customer said people ‘will be in for a shock’ after seeing the charges at the station
Unhappy drivers: Another Sainsbury’s customer said the new policy was ‘shameful’
This customer said it was ‘thoughtless and insensitive’ for the supermarkets to do this
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