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Supermarket petrol stations introduce £99 fuel

Supermarket petrol pumps, including Asda, are starting to charge drivers a £99 fee to pay at the pump under a new European-style rule change by Visa and MasterCard.

The “pre-authorisation charge” is being introduced to ensure drivers have enough money to cover the amount of fuel they put in their cars if they choose to pay at the pump instead of at a kiosk.

Last month Asda became the first supermarket to introduce the charge at three stores, but has been met with complaints from customers.

One customer claimed the £99 charge was deducted from her bank balance and not returned for two days.  Although the money is deducted from the customer’s bank balance or credit card limit it is held in limbo but never actually leaves their account.

Once the payment for the petrol has cleared the charge will reappear on the customer’s balance. This can take as little as 20 minutes or as long as two to three days.

It is understood that supermarkets have now put plans to introduce the charge on ice following consumer outrage and confusion.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have not yet implemented the £99 charge but are “reviewing the situation” and plan to introduce it in the near future. It is already over nine months since Visa and Mastercard changed the rules last year.

Previously rules stated a pre-authorisation charge of £1 should be taken at petrol pumps.

A spokesman at Mastercard 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.

“If customers don’t have the required funds in their bank account, a further step is available to petrol stations which allows them to check what available funds a customer has, enabling a lower value of fuel to be dispensed. While some customers may see a request for a higher amount than the fuel they bought – perhaps on their mobile banking app -these funds are not taken from their account. Only the value of the petrol dispensed is withdrawn.”

A Visa spokesman said: “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.”

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