The Devil’s

in the debit. Disclosure: I’ve never used mine ~ never felt the need to and, as time goes on, really look askance at the whole concept. The Red Tape fellow points out more things I wasn’t aware of. In the comments about the smarmy world of debit card fees there are tons of know-it-all “don’t spend more than you have/try balancing a checkbook/duh-keep track of your transactions/learn to add” one liners. They ARE common sense in a checkbook world, but they’re really not applicable to debit carding, because of what you don’t know is going on in the electronic hell energized when you swipeth.
Your running bank balance ~ however scrupulously calculated on your part ~ is rendered moot by a dirty little trick gas stations in our neck of the woods use. When you tender your debit card for purchases, they authorize a larger sum, which is NOT reflected by your receipt, or what eventually posts to your account. You THINK you’ve bought $20 worth of petrol, but they’ve authorized $35+, which stands until the ACTUAL charges have been paid. Now, that’s an additional $15 out of your account that you have no clue has been temporarily debited. So, like our starving college student Ebola did, knowing you’d only spent $20, you go buy a movie ticket or swipe your card at the Winn-Dixie and you’re overdrawn. And going INSANE trying to figure it out. And HAMMERED for the additional $30 friendly overdraft, which never REALLY was one to begin with. Over and over again. It wasn’t until a short piece our local news ran exposing and explaining the practice that we had a clue. And cold comfort to his poor wallet hundreds of dollars later, not to mention all the abuse he took from us about “Jesus, how hard can it be to keep track of?!”
I’ve also started run across this from different institutions when, as an artist, I’ve run a customer’s debit card. They’ll call me in a panic because, after checking in a day or two, the transaction has posted TWICE on their online screen. I’ve only run it through once. Their BANK posted it twice. It quietly goes away AFTERwards. But, if they hadn’t checked… And at least their bank posted both, instead of ~ like Navy Federal in Ebola’s case, for instance ~ just posting the transaction amount, not the authorized deduction.
I think that all should be illegal. It’s certainly unethical. If I’m to be penalized for an overdraft, I think I should KNOW that I’ve actually BEEN overdrawn. Gas stations (or whatEVER businesses do something this foul) should be forced to put signs on the pumps with a disclaimer that the authorized amount for your purchase with a debit card will temporarily be increased by whatever over the actual purchase, for ‘this time period’.
Where else is charging someone for services NOT rendered/delivered, with no warning ~ especially with the potential for such dire consequences for the unknowing victim ~ legal?

One Response to “The Devil’s”

  1. Nightfly says:

    Yeah – it’s cockamamie. I think it’s part and parcel with the requirement to prepay your gas purchase. They don’t know ahead of time when the card is swiped how much it costs to fill the tank, so they pad it. You’re authorized for fifty bucks, even if you only need twenty.
    But that still doesn’t explain why, when the actual charge goes through, you have to put up with the difference floating around out there.
    Lately I’ve been making it a point to go to an ATM and THEN going to the station and giving them actual money; not only to avoid this but to limit the number of times my account number is floating through the ether.
    Slightly tangential – does that Visa Check Card commercial annoy the jeepers out of you, too? How dare you pay with the currency of our nation! Our clockwork life is disturbed! I roll my eyes at you! Yeah, well, FOAD, grouchy cashier lady.

Image | WordPress Themes