Last month, Asda became the first supermarket to introduce a £99 fee as a ‘pre-authorisation charge’ to cover the amount of fuel customers put in their cars when they choose to pay at the pump instead of the kiosk.
The supermarket has been piloting the new approach in some of its petrol stations.
But while the move has been met with complaints, it’s not a scam – it’s part of a new European-style policy change by Visa and Mastercard, and the money is returned.
Although the money is deducted from the customer’s bank balance or credit card limit, it never actually leaves their account and once the payment for the petrol has cleared the charge will reappear on the customer’s balance. In some cases, however, this can take as long as three days.
Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Tesco are yet to implement the £99 charge but plan to introduce it in the near future.
The rules, which affect Visa and Mastercard users, changed last year.
Previously, they stated a pre-authorisation charge of £1 should be taken at petrol pumps.
A spokesperson for Asda said: “To clarify, this is an industry wide policy change from MasterCard and Visa in coordination with customer’s banks to ensure that customers have sufficient funds in their accounts prior to buying petrol. ‘This amount is ‘ring-fenced’ by banks but immediately made available again to customers.
‘The money is never taken or held by Asda.’
MasterCard also released a statement: ‘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 Only the value of the petrol dispensed is withdrawn.’