Tesco Pay at Pump fury as drivers are charged £120 ‘deposit’ every time they fill up at supermarket’s petrol stations
- The deposit charge was first quietly piloted at selected pumps in June 2021
- But drivers have been left ‘absolutely fuming’ over the ‘crazy’ scheme
Furious drivers are being charged an automatic £120 ‘deposit’ when they fill up at Tesco petrol stations.
The deposit charge was first quietly piloted at selected pumps in June 2021 to replace a £1 pre-authorisation charge as part of attempts to stamp out fuel theft.
But the supermarket has been slammed after a driver was charged £120 after filling up with £15 of fuel at an Esso Tesco in Ardwick Green, Manchester, this week.
Another driver was also left ‘absolutely fuming’ after noticing the same charge had been made to her account after filling up at the same site a week earlier.
The driver, Scott, told Manchester Evening News he was shocked when he checked his account and saw the deposit had been taken.
The supermarket has been slammed after a driver was charged £120 after filling up with £15 of fuel at an Esso Tesco in Ardwick Green, Manchester, this week
Unable to contact his bank, he returned to the petrol station and spotted a sign inside warning customers of the charge.
The warning said: ‘Please note, paying at pump with your card will automatically charge £120 then refund the difference back to your account from your fuel total.’
What is the £120 Pay-at-Pump ‘pre-authorisation fee’ and how does it work?
The ‘pre-authorisation’ system aims to stop people who don’t have enough funds from filling up their vehicles and to stamp out theft.
It will be replacing the £1 fee currently charged at most pumps.
To use the stations customers will need to enter their PIN.
A ‘pre-authorisation’ check will ‘ring-fence’ a sum of cash up to £120 to ensure the driver has enough funds.
Motorists will then be charged for the amount of fuel they purchased.
The remainder will usually immediately be refunded once they have finished filling up.
He said: ‘I was gobsmacked, the financial implications of this are huge. They shouldn’t be putting this in in the first place. Have more security at pumps if that is the issue.
‘What if there was a family filling up on their way to Tesco and only had £120 left in their bank and then went to try and do a food shop and couldn’t pay?
‘It is crazy. The sign is inside the shop so how is someone supposed to know about it if they pay at the pump?
‘I’m lucky that I have access to funds until the money comes back into my account but it’s the principal.’
All supermarkets and energy suppliers are understood to be imposing the holding fee soon, with an amount up to £120 being ringfenced in customers’ accounts for a short time until the unused sum is immediately released.
Asda tried the same scheme in 2018 but scrapped it following a similar outcry from drivers, saying at the time that ‘we always want to do the right thing for our customers’.
Scott said he has been left waiting more than 12 hours and had still not received the £105 holding fee back into his account.
Tesco is expected to roll out the system across all petrol garages by the end of the year.
The system only impacts customers who pay at the pump, with those paying at the kiosk being charged the normal amount.
The supermarket says the fee has been introduced in line with Mastercard and Via requirements, adding that the money should be released back into customers’ accounts immediately.
A spokesman for Tesco said: ‘We’re really sorry to hear about this. The funds that are reserved whilst a customer refuels at Pay at Pump should be immediately released back into the customer’s account.
‘If this has not happened, we would recommend that the customer contacts their card issuer to resolve the issue.’
A statement from Mastercard added: ‘Although customers may notice in their banking apps an initial transaction for a higher ‘pre-authorised’ amount than the fuel they bought, this is very temporary, as almost immediately after the sale is made the exact value of fuel dispensed is withdrawn from their account, and any remainder of the pre-authorised amount is released for use.
‘Should cardholders experience any issues or have any questions regarding this new process they should contact their bank.’
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