The $8,648 Burger King Bill

Guadalupe Pequino of Fountain Inn, South Carolina bought $8.64 worth of food from Burger King with her Visa Check Card. Unfortunately for Guadalupe, the cashier typed in $8,648.54 as her total and the amount was debited from her account. The restaurant corrected the error, but it took 5 days for the money to find its way back into Guadalupe’s account. “It was an honest mistake, and the store has done everything it can to credit the account,” the Burger King general manage said.

“It’s caused her a lot of problems in paying her rent, paying her car payment, buying food,” Pequino’s friend, Richard White, told the local media. White spoke for Pequino, who does not speak English well. “It’s caused a lot of problems. I don’t know too many people that can have $8,648 withdrawn from their account and carry on normally.”

With more and more people paying for small things with debit cards, it pays to be vigilant about these sorts of things. —MEGHANN MARCO

Woman Charged $8,000 For Burger King Meal [WDSU]
(Photo: WDSU)


Edit Your Comment

  1. gwong says:

    That’s a lot of Whoppers!

  2. Why is it that when paying a business the money comes out your account almost immediately but no matter how badly the business has screwed up it takes several days (at least) for the money to get deposited in your account?

    I don’t see why it should be quick in one direction and slow in the other.

  3. magic8ball says:

    Not quite the same thing, but – we used our credit card at a local taco shop recently, for a total of $15 and change. When the employee handed us the slip to sign, it said $50 and change. Fortunately my husband looked at the total before he signed, so we got it fixed.

  4. jmorgans says:

    Another good reason not to use debit cards! No grace period to pay, no legal protection if stolen, lousy rewards. Sounds like a great deal for banks. For consumers, not so much.

  5. Buran says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: That’s what I want to know. Why couldn’t they give her the money out of the register that she could then deposit into her account as cash? That is inexecusable and BK should pay ALL resulting NSF fees, issue a written apology, and comp the meal.

  6. juri squared says:

    I’m surprised that the bank let it go through. Don’t most companies call you when there’s a huge withdrawal out of one’s spending pattern like that?

  7. Landru says:

    My ATM account has a daily limit of about $2000.00, unless I call them first. I thought they all did that. I guess not.

  8. Buran says:

    It’s a good thing I don’t like BK’s food, as I wouldn’t shop there after hearing this.

    It’s also yet another reason why I use credit cards. If someone tries to take more from me than they are entitled to, I simply file a chargeback and let them deal with their chargeback penalty. Call it an incentive to check your register twice before hitting the submit key…

  9. chrisgoh says:

    BK should probably have an edit check on their system to prevent something like this, no matter if it is intentional or accidental. The edit check should be in the form of a reasonableness check, a charge of over $100 is probably very rare for BK, so just add a confirm step when the amount to be charged is over $100 and that would prevent this type of thing.

    Also, if they would integrate the credit/debit process into their registers, they would not have to rely on the cashier correctly transcribing the total from the register into the cc machine.

  10. thrillhouse says:


    I thought so too. Daily limits are occasionally a pain in the ass, but will easily stop this sort of BS from happening. That bank should be ashamed of themselves.

  11. chipslave says:


    Bingo! I used to install POS systems and that was exactly what we did. It would beep and stuff when you entered in an amount over $100 for confirmation.

  12. tentimesodds says:

    McDonalds’ credit card system is interconnected with its POS terminals, so this can’t happen. I wondered why other major fast food companies don’t integrate their systems, too. I’ve been overcharged by $1 a few times when the employees type the amounts in manually, and I wonder how much of that goes on. (Fraudulently or not)

  13. BillyShears says:

    So, and I’m being completely sincere about this, I’d like to know why people use debit cards instead of a plain, ol’ credit card. The latter would’ve acted as a buffer; letting this woman, and people in similar situations, keep their money while the error is corrected.

    • UX4themasses says:

      @BillyShears: The OP’s case is a rare scenario compared to how many people carry a balance. If you carry a balance, do you want to pay a nasty APR on that whopper?

      NEVER pay for food with a CC if you carry a balance.

  14. cgmaetc says:

    @BillyShears: Some people can’t get credit cards because of bad credit. Others choose debit cards to ensure that they only spend what they have now, rather than borrowing money they may or may not have later…

  15. traezer says:

    I once got two movie tickets, and the receipt had the correct price and everything. Well, somehow it was debited out of my accout twice, so I essentially paid for 4 movie tickets. Well, I went back to the theater to get my money back, and they said there was no way at all to give me the money back. They couldnt take money out of the cash drawer or anything. They compensated me by giving me 4 free movie tickets, but I was still pissed. I wanted my money back, it was for bills!

  16. The Walking Eye says:

    Does this mean that when you use your debit card that they only check for $1 or something and just let you buy whatever?

    I’ve got overdraft protection, and I know I’ve gone over by a few dollars before so I wonder if this happened here which allowed it to go.

    It’s the consumer’s responsibility to only buy what they can afford, but it’s the business’ responsibility to check if that money is there, no? Mistakes happen at registers, and sometimes they’re not noticed, but where was the digital check in this to not allow $8000+ to be charged?

  17. SadSam says:

    A couple of points.

    Lots of people don’t use credit cards b/c they don’t want to be in debt, spending money they don’t have (the definition of credit) or be a slave to cc companies and their fees and games.

    I wonder if the debit card in question had a Visa or MC logo, most do and are supposed to have similar credit card protections.

    I also wondered about daily transaction limits when I read this article.

    Finally, since this is a Bank of Amercia debit card I have to assume that it took so long for this woman to get her money bank b/c BOA sucks!

  18. timmus says:

    I’m wagering that if you have $9000 sitting around in your account that it’s not going to be that hard to meet rent and food bills for a few days.

  19. mikyrok says:

    @Buran: I don’t think many burger kings carry $9,000 in the register.

  20. kerry says:

    Don’t most debit card systems have a little thing that asks you to approve the amount before you let it go through? Even the tiny liquor store around the corner has a handheld device that asks you for an “amount OK” before you enter your PIN. What kind of system is BK using?
    @BillyShears: Because not everybody can get a credit card, nor does everybody want one.

    • UX4themasses says:

      Most places I have seen actually ask if this is debit or credit on the interface. However, the OP has limited English skills and we don’t know the abilities of this particular BK. If it is the cashier handling the transaction, they may use credit as the default. Moreover, if the OPs ‘CREDIT’ balance on this card is 10K and she uses it to per her rent (for the miles/cashback/whatever) then an 8K charge would be a killer.

  21. @BillyShears:

    I’ve always wondered the opposite. It throws me when those credit card ads encourage people to use them for everyday purchases. Why the heck would I want to borrow money to pay for a sandwhich?

  22. minn-eh-sota says:

    Something like this happened to me at Dunkin Donuts (yeah yeah, I know)
    The total was something like $7.10, but when the receipt printed it was for $17.10. I noticed it right away and the girl said that “as long as the cash register says the right amount it should be fine.” Uh huh, sure. Once the wrong amount showed up on my online bank statement I called the bank and DD. I got a check for the reimbursement from DD a couple of days later. I’m guessing most people wouldn’t have taken the time to notice on their receipt if there was a discrepancy of just a few dollars.
    What I want to know is, how does this happen? The girl didn’t type the total into the CC swiper dealie (technical terms here), it just came from the register. What caused the wrong total to get charged, especially over $8,000 more?

  23. megnificent says:

    @: @:

  24. minn-eh-sota says:

    @kerry: A lot of times Debit cards can be run as credit cards, without the card holder having to type in the pin.

    I thought I read on consumerist that running it like a credit card is safer?

  25. foghat81 says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Because cash is king. I’ll only use mine when I must. Until that point, I’ll gladly use the my credit card (and if I just so happen to earn a few points/miles/cashback, then all the better!)

  26. chipslave says:

    A lot of business do not use the integrated POS systems because the standalone units usually offer lower per transaction rates than the integrated ones. The downside is, of course, what happened in this story.

  27. Buran says:

    @mikeyrock: I dunno. You might be surprised. And they have a safe too even if they don’t. Or they could use their corporate account to give her a cashier’s check or money order. Or something. It’s totally unacceptable to not reimburse her instantly given the trouble she had in getting her money back and all the resulting NSF charges I imagine she’s seeing.

  28. quagmire0 says:

    @timmus: right on. I don’t think she was struggling. I usually never have that much in my account and one single time – mostly because I put any excess into a high-yield savings account. Also, why do people use debit cards so much? Use a credit card, get rewards, pay your bill at the end of the month. If she had used credit to buy this, it wouldn’t have big such a big deal.

  29. BeastMasterJ says:

    I’m loath to use a debit or credit card an any purchase less that $10. I always use cash at Fast Food type places.

    Especially since your credit/debit card is being handled by some apathetic 16 year old, who’s barely passing High School Algebra, getting complaints from customers who say his burger is too cold, and he said NO onions, what kind of idiots do you have working back there anyway and SHUT UP! SHUT UP NOW!!

    So the employees probably are not paying very close attention to begin with.

  30. benko29 says:

    is the US really that behind with debit cards?? it seems like everyone here in canada uses debit cards. I’m only 19 and i’ve been using one for almost six years already!
    and frankly, it’s as good as cash, usually better, because you don’t have to break bills, only to piss away the remaining change. this way, you pay exactly the amount.
    and using a credit card for incidental purchases like food (other than at decent restaurants) just seems foolish. i want to exchange money for product, and end the deal there. i don’t want to have to see it on a bill in the mail weeks later.

  31. codykniffen says:

    I hope to God by the end of my life I haven’t spent that much at any fast food restaurant as a total.

    It’s disgusting when you think about that amount of food over the span of 60 – 70 years.

  32. tvh2k says:

    Actually, I would bet it just means that she doesn’t see any point of having a branch savings account at 0.25%, is afraid of the stock market, wants more access to her money than a CD offers, and hasn’t ever heard of an online savings account.

  33. tvh2k says:

    …and that she doesn’t read the consumerist :-P

  34. kharms says:

    It looks like hey were charging a dollar per calorie

  35. Buran says:

    @traezer: I would have personally called the bank and had them reverse the bogus charges and reported the merchant as “unwilling to provide a refund”. Free tickets are well and good, but, well, are not a refund.

  36. Batmanjr says:

    This is exactly why I do not carry a balance with my credit card and NEVER use my debit card. That way I use my credit card for small purchases such as this and pay it all off at the end of the month. Therefore I have no fees to “borrow” that money from the cc company. And better yet, I get the buffer protection that a cc allows.
    That or the other thing I did in college was to just take out X dollars a week and that was all I had.

  37. Buran says:

    @Benko: I don’t think it’s foolish to want to be protected against fraudsters being able to drain the account that actually contains my money, lose the ability to fight charges that never hit my account until I actually pay the bill, and to want to be protected by federal law for being responsible for more than $50 of fraudulent charges. Plus, the more I use my credit card and pay it back in full monthly (no finance charges) the fewer chances fraudsters have to sniff my credentials from an unsecured store network.

  38. BillyShears says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Very simply because a credit card is only borrowed money if you let it become borrowed money; that is: If you don’t pay it off in full every month, you’re borrowing money.

    I do happen to use my Visa and (especially) Amex for “everyday” purchases. I get points on Visa, JB frequent flyer points on the Amex, and both are paid in full at the end of the month (with exceptions on big things, like furniture or something.)

    The same amount of money winds up being spent, I don’t have to carry cash, worry about a debit card error or theft being a gateway to my checking account, and the line-item statements make me (sometimes painfully) aware of how much everyday spending I do, and where I can cut back.

  39. @BillyShears: That makes sense.

  40. If all the health related concerns would not deter people from dining at fast food places, this certainly would.

  41. sub-culture says:

    Unless there’s a really good reason, this person should not have that much money in their debit card account in the first place. Sure, you’re not going to get a great rate putting it into savings over a cd, but it’s _something_, and far better than having your money languish. Plus, socking your money into another account will make it easier to save over the long run.

  42. thrillhouse says:


    I’ve had that happen a few times. I once paid for a dozen doughnuts 5 times. When I saw this, I simply called my bank (BofA back then) and explain the situation. 2 minutes later it was fixed.

    @The Walking Eye:

    No, its not the merchants responsibility. Maybe it should be, but many times only things standing between “Accepted” and “Declined” is account open, account in good standing.

    I dunno. I think I’m gonna have to call bullshit on this story. Too much doesn’t add up.
    -$8600+ didn’t trigger a daily limit? Bull.
    -All of her payments were to be deducted from her account between that Thursday and the following Monday? Possible, I suppose.
    -BK’s system allowed that large of a charge.
    -Maybe things have changed a bit, but BofA’s policy used to be that the money would be replaced by the next business day.
    -She actually had that much sitting in her account.

    @Rectilinear Propagation:
    “Why the heck would I want to borrow money to pay for a sandwhich?”

    thats a really good question. I also love the one they’re running now where a woman breaks the heel of her shoe, and thus needs a new dress and makeover to go with the rather expensive looking shoes that she replaces them with. ‘Downtown’ indeed. And these are the same folks who have their “award winning”, “responsible” borrowing classes. Ahhhhh… credit!

  43. huadpe says:

    It is possible to have that much in your account if you’re planning a big expenditure. I can have 10k+ in my checking acct before I pay my tuition.

  44. FLConsumer says:

    I’ve always wondered the opposite. It throws me when those credit card ads encourage people to use them for everyday purchases. Why the heck would I want to borrow money to pay for a sandwhich?

    Who says I’m borrowing money? I’m with Billy on this one. Credit cards are no different than debit cards if you treat them that way. Seriously, what’s the difference between a credit card & debit card in practice? NOTHING. You still have to check to see how much money you have, still swipe the little pretty plastic card through the machine, and you still walk out of the store, without a single physical dollar changing hands.

    I used to use cash for just about all purchases. Only within the past 2-3 years have I started to use credit cards. Since using credit cards, my spending has dropped substantially. With cash, I had no real record of where my money was going. Those little $4 receipts for quick impulse purchases add up.

    With credit cards, on-line management allows me to see EXACTLY where my money is going, right down to the cent, by day. Add in Quicken and I have up-to-the-minute reports and graphs on where my money is going.

    Could I do the same with debit cards? Possibly… but this story clearly illustrates that any sort of cock-up which happens will become your problem, especially if you don’t carry a substantial amount of money in your checking account. Most of the people who use debt cards are those without large cash reserves and who’d be most vulnerable if a problem like this cropped up. They’d become late on utility, rent, and loan payments, get black marks on their credit report for being late, maybe even evicted and homeless if the situation dragged out for any length of time. All which could be prevented if they used cash or credit cards.

    Sure, debit cards promise they’ll replace any money used for unauthorized/incorrect charges, but after how many days? and can you live without that money for however long it takes them to sort it out? If not, you can’t afford a debit card.

  45. craigkc says:

    …here and I thought there was going to be a pot-smoker joke about “the munchies” somewhere in here :)

  46. lilyHaze says:

    While I totally believe that a credit card is better than a debit card for purchases, I haven’t gone on the “pay with a CC on small restaurant purchases.” I use my rewards CC for everything. But when I buy a $5 burger (or some other small purchase), I always pay cash. I know it’s the cost of doing business, but I don’t like to have the store pay a fee for a small purchase.

  47. @Rectilinear Propagation, but really @BillyShears and @FLConsumer: I’m going to amend that to say:

    It makes sense except for the part where you say you’re not borrowing money.

  48. Trackback says:

    There are plenty of reasons you should use a credit card instead of a debit card (if both are available) but here’s one that is especially compelling. A debit card is directly linked to your checking account, whereas a credit card is linked to an ephemeral credit limit.