The problem seemed easy enough to solve. SMM asked a Circle K cashier to pre-pay $20 on a gas pump using his credit card. Only the pump didn’t stop at $20 like it should have: it kept going until it reached $23.42. No big deal: SMM headed back in the store to pay the extra three and a half bucks. That’s when he learned that somehow, the first $20 he paid didn’t count.
I went to the Circle K on [redacted] in [redacted] I ask the cashier to charge my card to pre-pay $20.00 at the pump. He does, and I gather my receipt and head out to fill up. As I watch the car fill up I notice that the pump doesn’t stop at $20.00 like it should, and is going over. I stopped the pump and the total came out to $23.42. So I head back inside to tell the attendant that I needed to pay an extra $3.42. However, when I tell him what happened he looks at me and says that I have to pay the whole thing.
He says he is not sure why the pump went over and says that I have to pay the entire amount and there is no way around it. So I explain to him that I do not want to pay for $43.42 when I am only receiving $23.42 of gasoline and that he needs to contact the manager to help resolve this issue. After he contacts his supervisor, he goes out to check that it is in fact at $23.42 and then calls the supervisor again. I ask if there is a way to only pay the $3.42 or at least get the entire amount of gasoline that they want me to pay for. The supervisor says no, this is not an option and that they will have to go through all the transactions to verify that I only received $23.43 worth of gasoline.
“In the meantime, write your name and number and if they determine an error has been made then they will refund you.”
So basically they want me to pay over the amount that I received and just “wait” for someone with more authority to determine if the attendant or the pump made an error, which the cashier already admitted. I wanted to walk out and leave but I figured that I can’t leave without paying the $3 and some change or it would be considered theft. I really wish I would have had the cash on me and just dropped what I owed and walked out, but after over half an hour of arguing with the attendant I gathered all my receipts, names and numbers of the managers, and took some photos. I contacted my credit card company and told them the situation, however as the charged were pending I have to wait before I can open a dispute.
I’m angry at how the entire situation was handled. The original explanation of how I had to just pay with no mention of a refund, the admission of an error, and the lack of ability to be able to charge me what I owed rather than an additional $20.00 just ruined my day and I now have to watch my card and potentially open a dispute.
Is it normal or even legal for a company to overcharge in that manner when an admitted error was made?
Obviously the error was the cashier’s–not entering the $20 charge correctly, but not wanting it to look like SMM fled from the pump. But should the store or the customer have to cover the $20 while waiting for someone with actual authority to sort this out?
Update: The manager intervened and straightened things out.
I was surprised to see my story on Consumerist today! It has a good ending – I called the manager the next day (the attendant had been speaking to the assistant manager on the phone) and she was very apologetic and agreed that it was not the correct procedure. She contacted corporate and assured me that they would not process the extra $20 charge. I have since checked my credit card account and only the $23.42 was charged. I was more livid with the attendant and the lack of explanation when I was first charged, but I was satisfied with the result and the manager was great.