LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB)–Gary Mikolajczak of Lackawanna bought $15 worth of gas for his lawnmower at a nearby Speedway using his bank debit card. Little did Mikolajczak know Speedway froze another $98 in his checking account.
“A couple of days later I notice that there is a charge on my credit card against it for a $98 and change. When I went into the store to confront them about it, the lady says they do this. I said do what? She says they put a hold on your credit card.”
Western New Yorkers are discovering a new wrinkle to buying gas with a debit card, that the gas station might take more money out of their bank account than they actually spend at the pump, known as a “hold.”
That new wrinkle is a business practice at the newly-converted Speedway convenience stores that used to be Noco’s. The practice of putting a hold on an account is legal, but customers don’t like it, based on complaints to Call 4 Action.
Customers have reported when they swipe their debit cards, Speedway puts a hold on their account for additional money, which can freeze funds they need to pay bills, or even lead to overdrawn accounts.
The practice of putting a hold, or block, on a debit or credit card purchase is not new, and it is used by many other retail businesses. In most instances, a small amount is held–as little as a dollar–for a few hours until the transaction clears the bank, and then the hold is lifted.
But Speedway held Mikolajczak’s money for days, and the retired auto mechanic is thankful he had enough money in his account to cover the $113.00 that was tied up in his $15 gas purchase.
For those who can’t cover a card point-of-sale hold, Mikolajczak said it could be trouble, “Now you’ve got over-the-limit charges against you and they don’t seem to care. They tell you it is supposed to go back in your bank in a couple of hours–it is not happening. Mine was held for 5 or 6 days.”
Gary is also disturbed because there is no warning on the pump that using your debit card can tie up additional funds for days.
At the urging of his bank to protect him against fraud, Gary closed out his debit card for a new one, which he was unable to use for about a week–a big time inconvenience.
“Now I am writing checks to pay my bills. I had to run to the post office to mail out that stuff. I used to just pay everything online, with my credit card, and pay all my bills monthly.”
A spokesperson from Speedway’s parent company, Marathon Petroleum Corporation issued a brief statement that reads in part, the point-of-sale holds are, “a preauthorized amount placed on your account, and varies by the issuing bank.”
“When the pending transaction clears your bank, only the amount you charged will appear on your account, and the remaining funds will be released back into your account.” Speedway does not keep any of the funds that are put on hold.