Why your next visit to a petrol station to buy fuel could cost you an extra £99

The charge has been reported at several filling stations.

Putting the odd £5 or £10 of fuel in our cars is something that nearly all drivers do on a regular basis - writes somersetlive.co.uk

Imagine the shock of some, therefore, when they have gone to fill up at Asda fuel stations to find that they have been charged £99 without any explanation.

The Plymouth Heraldreports that this is being seen at petrol stations primarily in the north of the country, and incredibly, the extortionate charge is not a scam.

Shoppers are reporting that the tariff is leaving their bank accounts with unavailable funds for a short period of time.

It is reported that the hefty sum is appearing on shoppers statements after they have filled up with fuel at som petrol stations, but it is in fact a temporary charge.

The new temporary extra charge of £99 is affecting people using MasterCard and Visa debit and credit cards and automated fuel pumps in garages.

A change bought in due to industry rules has meant that the pre-authorisation payment at petrol stations has gone from £1 to £99 - meaning customers could be left with unavailable funds for a short period of time.

It also means customers may not be able to purchase fuel if they do not have the funds to pay for a full tank.

Angry motorists filling up at Asda garages have complained about the change on social media.

But the process is not unique to the supermarket - it is an industry-wide policy change through MasterCard and Visa.

Asda has been piloting the new change in stores in the North, but it is not clear if they have plans to roll out the new policy in Devon and Cornwall.

Customers could be turned away at pay at the pump sites if they do not have enough funds to cover the £99 pre-authorisation payment - the equivalent to a full tank.

The change has been brought in to protect both customers and garages, to ensure that motorists don't fill up with more fuel than they can afford.

What have Asda, Visa and MasterCard said?

An Asda spokesperson said: “Visa and MasterCard have increased the minimum pre-authorisation amount at pay at the pump petrol pumps for all retailers.”

If customers do not have £99, MasterCard says that a further step will be made available to petrol stations which will allow them to check what funds the customer has available, enabling a lower value of fuel to be dispensed.

Visa say that the pay-at-pump payments will now mean that an initial amount [£99] is held against the account whilst the fuel is dispensed, which ensures the customer has the sufficient funds to pay for the fuel.

A Visa spokesperson added that the company has been working closely with banks "to ensure that consumers do not experience delays in the adjustment of the initially-held amount".

Visa advise customers who do experience delays with the pre-authorisation payments to contact their bank immediately.

A MasterCard spokesperson 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 pre-authorisation payment is a temporary hold of a specific amount of the available balance on a credit or debit card that is provided upon booking.

The pre-authorisation is not a charge and no funds have been debited from your account, but they will not be accessible for a short period of time.

Visa issued a statement which reads: “The way that pay-at-pump fuel payments are treated has been standardised across the industry to ensure security for individual cardholders, retailers and card issuers.

“When an individual chooses to pay at a pay-at-pump fuel dispenser, an initial amount is held against their account while they dispense their fuel to ensure that they have sufficient funds to pay for the cost of their fuel.

"This initial amount should be adjusted immediately after fuel is dispensed to reflect the actual cost of the fuel.

“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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