Following adverse headlines in the news this week, supermarket chain Asda has withdrawn its controversial £99 trial petrol deposit scheme, which it had rolled out to three supermarkets across the county.
Disgruntled customers voiced their annoyance at being charged an additional £99 on top of their fuel costs after filling up at the supermarket’s pay-at-the-pump system, allowing customers to pay using their card on the forecourt without having to go into the kiosk.
The BBC reports that Asda claims the deposit was designed to act as a, ‘holding charge to ensure customers had enough money to pay for their fuel,’ but they will now suspend the scheme, claiming they, “always want to do the right thing for our customers.”
What went wrong with Asda’s petrol deposit trial?
The trial was intended to protect customers from filling up with petrol and paying for more fuel than they could afford on their cards, taking them into their overdraft if they didn’t have the necessary funds available.
It has, however, been criticised by customers who claim they were charged the £99 deposit on top of fuel they had purchased, without any warning.
The deposit was intended to be cancelled as soon as the correct fuel amount was paid but it was subject to delays due to coordination between MasterCard and Visa and customers’ banks, which ultimately left customers temporarily out of pocket.
The supermarket said:
“The intention of Visa and MasterCard in this trial was to ensure customers had sufficient funds in their account to pay for their fuel, and the £99 would be immediately released back to customers by their bank.
“Whilst we have received very few complaints about this process until we can be given assurance that all banks are able to comply with the Visa and MasterCard rule change, we cannot continue to implement this change and risk harming our customers’ trust in us.”
High profile complaints
While the supermarket chain may have received, ‘very few complaints,’ many of the ones that they did fall prey to were shared across Facebook and picked up by the media.
Customer Jade Louise initially blasted Asda online, furious that she had filled up her car with £5 of petrol at an Asda in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, only to have another £99 withdrawn from her bank account, which wasn’t refunded until three days later.
The post was shared on Facebook over 20,000 times and she had included a screenshot of her bank statement, as well as stating:
“Don’t go to Asda for fuel unless you can live without £99 for around 2-3 days.
“They’ve brought in a new system that allows them to take £99 out of your account as a ‘deposit’ for your fuel then a second transaction of the fuel you’ve actually taken.
“And they don’t return the £99 until the second payment has cleared, which can take at least two days with Asda.
“I rang Asda and a manager said they are trialling this. They used to pre-authorise your card for £1 but now it is £99.
“So that is money taken from your account that you can’t use until they release it back once the other payment has cleared.
“My complaint to them was that they should have notices on the petrol pumps making customers aware of this as they have changed their policy, 5th of May we got fuel and were still waiting for our refund.