Paying at the pump with a debit card leaving some at a loss

Paying at the pump with a debit card leaving some at a loss »Play Video
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - A common practice for paying with a debit card at a gas station is leaving some people angry when money isn't returned to their accounts in a timely manner.

Several viewers contacted KBOI after they noticed extra money was being held from their account, and not put back on the same day.

A common practice gas stations use is preauthorization. When you pay at the pump with a debit card it's unknown how much the customer could buy. So the station essentially charges you $75-$100 to make sure you have enough to cover it.

Normally, the money you don't use is returned within a few minutes or even a couple of hours.

People have reported that it's taking days, and is forcing them into tight budget situations without the money.

We contacted several banks who's customers called us about the issue. Bank of the Cascades spokesperson Mike Mooney was the only one to call back, and said the return shouldn't be taking that long.

"These things are electronic now so I mean they really should get processed over night," said Mooney. "So I'm not sure what the delays would be."

Those who called us said they noticed the hold when they visit Jackson's and Maverick stations. We tried to call both companies to ask why they do the practice, or what could be causing the delays. None of them returned our calls.

Many residents don't even know this happens when they fill up. Laticia Lehman of Caldwell doesn't agree with it.

"That's something I don't think consumers know happens on their cards," Lehman said. "I don't think it's OK that they're taking money out without us knowing about it first."

Mooney notes that it's also a common practice in the hotel, and rental car industry as well. He says companies do it to reduce risk of not being paid.


Jacksons issued a statement Wednesday afternoon:

"As the use of cards at the fuel dispensers have increased, customers have concerns about the debit hold on their accounts. Non PIN based transactions are the responsibility of the card issuer. Visa and MasterCard non PIN based transactions take 2-4 business days to clear. To avoid this frustration, we encourage customers to come inside, pay using their PIN number, and tell the employee the amount of the transaction. This type of hold will clear within minutes rather than days."