Business

Asda scraps £99 petrol station deposit charge after complaints

Asda petrol station Image copyright Getty Images

Asda has suspended a controversial £99 petrol pump deposit trial after an outcry from customers.

Those using pay-at-the-pump facilities at certain petrol stations were debited £99 on top of their fuel purchase.

Asda said the deposit was a holding charge to ensure customers had enough money to pay for their fuel.

But following the backlash, Asda said it would "suspend" the scheme pending review because "we always want to do the right thing for our customers".

One customer, Jade Louise, took to Facebook when she saw a £99 debit on her online bank after topping up at the weekend.

But the money never left her account, according to the supermarket and banks.

The trial was introduced at three petrol stations to assess if it would help cut down fraud and stop people inadvertently going into the red.

The deposit is intended to be cancelled as soon as the correct value is paid.

However, Asda said the scheme requires coordination between MasterCard and Visa and customers' banks. Some banks are not able to comply, the supermarket said.

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."

Change in the rules

Mastercard told the BBC that a change in industry rules last year meant that petrol stations with automated fuel pumps were required to pre-authorise a value equivalent to a full tank of fuel.

Image copyright Jade Louise
Image caption Jade Louise says she won't be using pay-at-the-pump for a while.

Previously, motorists had just £1 taken from their accounts as a pre-authorisation to confirm that their card was valid.

Ms Louise got a shock when she viewed her online statement after buying £5 worth of petrol at Asda in Dewsbury over the Bank Holiday weekend.

She used the pay-at-the-pump system which allows motorists to buy petrol without having to go into a kiosk.

"All I wanted to do was top up my almost full tank, because having two children, you never know when you'll need it," she told the BBC.

So when she saw the £99 pending transaction on her account, she took to Facebook to warn others of the charge.

"They should have notices on the petrol pumps making customers aware of this .... absolute joke!!!", she wrote.

She said she is happy Asda has stopped the trials "because they haven't thought carefully enough about what could go wrong and how it could negatively impact their customers".

"I won't be using pay at the pump fuel stations for the foreseeable future." One solution, she says, is: "Bring back manned stations and give people work."

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