Card rejection at pumps fuels confusion
MOTORISTS are up in arms because payments by debit card are being rejected at filling stations.
The frustrated drivers said petrol attendants were telling them that their transactions had been declined, but when they checked their SMS messages they found that the transactions had gone through.
Some even suspected the petrol attendants were trying to defraud them. As a result, petrol stations have put up signs saying that “an SMS from your bank doesn’t mean payment has gone through”.
A petrol attendant at an Engen garage in Katlehong confirmed this was happening and that customers were suspecting that “we are skimming their cards”.
“But we are telling them the problem is with their banks. They come back with proof of payment so we can refund their money.
“This happens often and they (customers) get angry at us.”
National Consumer Commission spokesperson Trevor Hattingh said they refer such matters to the Office of the Ombudsman for Banking Services.
The ombudsman’s spokesperson, Uzile Gugushe, encouraged customers to report this to their banks.
“Customers should keep a record of when, where and with which bank this type of issue occurs. This will assist in ascertaining whether it is a systemic issue that warrants further investigation.
“They can also contact the office of the ombudsman for banking services for free assistance if they have any banking problems.”
Mariam Petersen said her Capitec card had been declined three times at filling stations.
“I thought the problem was with Capitec and I decided to use Nedbank this year, but it’s still happening.
“It’s happened once at a BP garage since I started banking with Nedbank.
“A manager at the petrol station told me to go to the bank and get a statement proving the transaction went through so they can refund me.
“I went to the bank and printed out a statement. They checked on their system and later gave me my money back,” she said.
Another driver, who introduced himself only as Aubrey, had to go to an ATM when his Nedbank card was declined at a petrol station in Pretoria last year.
“I was supposed to swipe for R500 and the card was declined. I was angry because I had money in my account.
“I had to take a petrol attendant with me to the nearest ATM to withdraw that amount. I received a notice from the bank after swiping, but the petrol attendant told me my card was declined,” he said.
The 47-year-old said he was refunded after consulting the bank. “I almost lost that R500. I went to the bank and they gave me a statement showing the transaction was processed.
“Then I went to the petrol station with a slip from the bank and they refunded me,” he said.
But another motorist, who wished to remain anonymous, said it was not only happening at filling stations. She said it had happened to her at a Shoprite in Soweto earlier this year. “Then again at a Shell garage between May and June. I thought they (cashiers and petrol attendant) were robbing me.
“They told me to go to the bank so they can reverse the money. This is so bad. I think they need to upgrade their systems,” she said.
Sandile Tembe, a manager at a Shell garage, said the problem was with the banks.
“It does happen and I think it’s just something to do with the banks.
“Also, some customers pull out their cards before the transaction process is finished and the bank reports that the money went out from their accounts, but then the bank sends a message saying payment was reversed.
“It depends on the banks. With FNB, you get the two messages at the same time. But some banks take a day or two before notifying you that the payment was reversed. But in such cases we explain this to our customers,” he said.
Capitec spokesperson Charl Nel said the situation was dire and that it was not unique to fuel stations and could happen at any merchant point of sale.
“When a card-holder presents their card for payment for a purchase and the card is inserted in the terminal, the transaction is sent online from the merchant’s terminal to the buyer’s bank.
“The problem is not experienced with off-line transactions. The buyer’s bank in turn sends the t ransaction to either Visa, Mastercard or Bankserv depending on the routing requirements of the card issuer.”
The Sunday Independent