Tesco has been forced to apologise after customers complained about payments taken from their bank months after visiting stores.
Card payments are often one of the big scourges for those trying to be careful about their spending habits. You slip the card into the machine, jab in the PIN number and then it’s done – this invisible payment has occurred; invisible money has gone (at least until you check your bank account through your fingers). But at least when we’re buying on card, we know that the payment is taken in the next few days.
But that’s not what happened for some customers of 300 Tesco Express stores. Taking to social media, customers complained that payments made during November, December and January have been taken from their account in February.
Apologising for inconveniencing customers, Tesco chief customer officer Alessandra Bellini said:
‘We are writing to let you know that a number of credit and debit card payments did not process correctly for some customers, in a small number of our Express stores. You may have noticed this as an unexpected transaction at Tesco in your bank statement. You were accidentally not charged on a recent visit and this is a delayed payment. Rest assured, you will not have paid twice. You can view all transactions affected below.’
Discussing the sudden charge with consumer website Money Saving Expert, one customer, Adam, said:
‘Taking nearly two months to send a letter out is a bit too long. I called them to say that I can’t pay it all at once as this will take me overdrawn, only to be told that the money will come out of my bank in the next few days.’
Also talking to the site, Julie, another customer impacted by Tesco’s processing problems, explained:
‘I was both shocked and horrified to find out Tesco had taken three months to put through contactless transactions. These said transactions range from November 2017 through to January 2018. Nothing was indicated on my online statements as to pending payments and they’ve now presented me with these bills after nearly three months. I run a tight budget and they have now told me that there are nine transactions that were not processed correctly and that they would take them all out now.’
Beyond the hit Tesco’s reputation may take over this, there are two major issues for consumers…
Delayed payments mean that, despite initially having the money in their account when they bought from Tesco, it may no longer be there – leading to customers going overdrawn (and being charges for it). And in the run-up to Christmas, we’re likely spending more, so those charges made this month – at a time when money’s a bit tight in the New Year – are going to hit even harder than usual.
Shock charges are always a nasty surprise for everyone, but can particularly affect those struggling with their personal finances. Carefully planned and managed budgets can be thrown out of whack, which has a knock-on effect on other financial commitments.
Despite Tesco’s assurances that customers haven’t been charged more than they paid at the time of ‘purchase’, it’s always worth keeping a close eye on your statements. Because you never know when a supermarket giant can mess up your budget.