Tesco Pay at Pump fury as drivers have to pay £120 ‘deposit’ every time they fill up at supermarket petrol stations
- Deposit fees were quietly trialled for the first time at select pumps in June 2021
- But drivers remained ‘absolutely furious’ about the ‘crazy’ program
Furious drivers are charged an automatic £120 ‘deposit’ when filling up at Tesco petrol stations.
The deposit fee was first quietly trialled at some pumps in June 2021 to replace the £1 pre-authorization fee as part of attempts to stamp out fuel theft.
But the supermarket has come under fire after a driver was charged £120 after refueling £15 worth of fuel at an Esso Tesco in Ardwick Green, Manchester, this week.
Another female driver was also ‘absolutely furious’ after noticing the same charge had been posted to her account after refueling 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 come under fire after a driver was charged £120 after refueling £15 worth of fuel at an Esso Tesco in Ardwick Green, Manchester, this week
Unable to contact his bank, he returned to the gas station and spotted a sign inside warning customers of the charge.
The disclaimer read: “Please note that paying at the pump with your card will automatically charge £120 and then refund the difference to your account from your fuel total.”
What is the £120 Pay-at-Pump ‘Pre-Authorization Fee’ and how does it work?
The “pre-authorization” system aims to prevent people who do not have enough funds from refueling their vehicle and to eradicate theft.
It will replace the £1 fee currently charged at most pumps.
To use the stations, customers will need to enter their PIN.
A ‘pre-authorisation’ check will ‘protect’ a sum of money up to £120 to ensure the driver has sufficient funds.
Motorists will then be charged for the amount of fuel they have purchased.
The rest will usually be immediately refunded once the filling is complete.
He said: “I was stunned, the financial implications of this are huge.” They shouldn’t put that in the first place. Have more security at the pumps if that is the problem.
“What if there was a family refueling on their way to Tesco and they only had £120 left in their bank and then went trying to do a grocery store and couldn’t pay?
‘It’s crazy. The sign is inside the store, so how is anyone supposed to know if they are paying at the pump?
“I’m lucky to have access to funds until the money comes back to my account, but that’s the main thing.”
It looks like all supermarkets and energy providers will soon be imposing a holding charge, with up to £120 being blocked 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 waited over 12 hours and still hasn’t received the £105 hold charge in his account.
Tesco is expected to roll out the system to all petrol garages by the end of the year.
The system only affects customers who pay at the pump, with those paying at the kiosk being charged the normal amount.
The supermarket says the charges were introduced in line with Mastercard and Via requirements, adding that the money should be returned to customers’ accounts immediately.
A Tesco spokesperson said: ‘We are very sorry to hear of this. Funds that are reserved while a customer is refueling at Pay at Pump must be immediately returned to the customer’s account.
“If this has not happened, we recommend that the customer contact their card issuer to resolve the issue.”
A statement from Mastercard added: “While customers may notice in their banking apps an initial transaction for a ‘pre-authorized’ amount greater than the fuel they purchased, this is very temporary as almost immediately after the sale, the exact value of the fuel dispensed is withdrawn from their account and any balance of the pre-authorized amount is released for use.
“If cardholders encounter any issues or have any questions regarding this new process, they should contact their bank.”