Something to watch out for

I do a lot of reading on this site but this is the first time I have posted anything but felt compelled to let everyone know of a new scam that happened to me yesterday when I went to the petrol station at Intermarche (Point Rouge, Nr Carcassonne) to fill my car. It is an automated station and I have used it many times before, because it always has a good price. I filled my car with around 50€ petrol and drove away, as usual. This morning whilst looking at my on-line banking it appears that the maximum of 147€ has been posted to my account. I can only assume that someone jumped in quickly behind me and has managed to fill their tank at my expense. Clearly, this is my problem as I have not been vigilant enough but I am sure that we all at some point are not as attentive as we should be. As it never occurred to me that this was possible I just thought that it was necessary to let everyone know that they should be very careful when using these automatic stations and probably the best course of action should be to take a receipt on completion of every transaction. Perhaps there are persons sitting at the petrol station just waiting for an idiot like me to arrive!!!!!!! Perhaps, some lucky person thought that Intermarche were giving away petrol today - I shall never know.

I told the lady in the cubicle/kiosk today at the petrol station I didn't want to pay at the machine but at her till that sits just at the barrier, and she asked me why, so I told her I know of someone who was charged twice..or not the amount she filled petrol for.

She told me: "il faut BIEN raccocher apres s'etre servi "!

When people don't hang up the petrol "gun" properly the next person behind them is basically filling on the same account and in some petrol stations, the till guy/girl does not check who pays what.

If im honest i do not think i have ever seen a petrol station in England without a kiosk/ working humans. When traveling France i can only recall this happening only once and that was a number of years back now. What i would like to know, who is paying for the transaction when the money is returned. It maybe the cost has been included within the price of the fuel, so you end up paying twice for your one transaction. Can you not put cash into the payment machine, just like the automated machines inside English supermarkets. I say English, because i have never seen a automated self service payment machine in a French supermarket.

And at our local Carrefour the kiosk is only opened a couple of days a week... There IS another petrol station (with humans!) but it's the other side of town.

During the late evening/night/early morning and on Sundays in most cases? Which cash desk then? It is probably a case of grin and bear it.

New issue cards in most countries all have the swipe function in the chip, not sure about here though, anyway the advantage is that it is scan and read without leaving your hand, cuts off immediately the scan is finished, phishing the last number used (I know it happens, but no idea how) is impossible because the next swipe activates the sleeping reader then reads and sleeps again but the reader itself has no 'memory' unlike cash machines, petrol pumps and so on.

If you don't want to pay the deposit then don't use the pay at the pump machines, pay at the cash desk by any card and only the amount you dispense will be charged. It's not just France, it's ANY pay at the pump machine in the world. Not everyone is as trustworthy and if you want to use the service it's a small price to pay.

I am very pleased to announce that the correct amount of the transaction has now been debited from my account. I believe that all the comments are correct that a maximum reserve is requested but do not actually taken. I had never before noticed a pending section to my online banking. I shall however, be more vigilant in future. Although I have to say that just because I do not tend to take receipts for petrol I am not a person who is in debt (well apart from a small mortgage) and I know exactly what I am spending and keep a track of it. Phew what a relief!!

Hmmm, not too sure about swipe cards being safer, I refuse to have one and keep my passport in a sleeve as well. Go to you tube and enter "credit card cloning" >

In the USA it started in 2005 (if I remember correctly) that for transaction such as gas (petrol) bank will "hold" $100 for 24 - 48 hours (depends on the bank). They only "hold" it and NOT posted it as being $100. 00 of transaction. The transaction itself will show the real amount of gas dispensed. However, should you check your bank balance right after the gas purchase then it will show the available cash ready to be used. Say, you have $100.00 cash before you get your gas and you only fill up your tank with $25.00. For 24-48 hours your balance will be $0.00 and until the money is released you then can NOT use your card otherwise you'd get a surprise! The card is "rejected" to pay for your next "purchase". For car rental, depends on the company, it could be $250.00 - $350.00 and will be released when the car is returned. Some hotel will do the same, "holding" $250.00 - $500.00 until check out

It happened to me at Intermarche at Trie-sur-Baise, the maximum was debited from my account and then the balance was returned a few days later without my doing anything except fume.

I just don't get diesel at Intermarche anymore!

This is what ICE plc (prepaid currency card) say about it in their terms and conditions. Just after the bit where it says if you go overdrawn they will take legal steps to recover the money from you:

'There are some circumstances where Merchants may require an Available Balance greater than the value of the Transaction you or a Supplementary Card owner wish to make and this will be determined by making a pre-authorisation. Any pre-authorisation made on your Card or a Supplementary Card will result in a reduction in the Available Balance for that amount (usually for a period of 15 days). You will only be charged for the actual and final value of the Transaction you or a Supplementary Card owner make. Merchants request this as they may need to access more funds than you or a Supplementary Card owner initially intended to spend in such circumstances (without limitation) as:

  • 4.6.1 Hire car companies, hotels and self-service petrol pumps - Such Merchants may not be able to accurately predict how much the final bill will be, therefore they may make a pre-authorisation request for funds greater than the final bill and Available Balance.'

So you may unknowingly go overdrawn - especially if you hire a car and buy petrol while on holiday. I agree they are only doing it because they can - I'm surprised it is legal.

This has happened to me twice at 2 different elerc petrol stations in Pineulh and Port Ste Foy . Very annoying as we do not have huge amounts in our bank account and we also had to wait 3 days the first time and 4 the second before our bank could apparently raise the necessary paperwork if it was not re credited to our account.

Same thing happened to me when filling up at Carrefour. Saw on my bank statement that 120 euros had been withheld from my balance. I rang the bank but was told that this could just be an error and I should wait three days and see if it had actually been deducted from my balance rather than just withheld. Luckily enough days went by and no 120 euros was taken although the 50 euros I had actually spent was. It would seem this happens from time to time. If the money actually has been taken you should take it up with Intermarche - hopefully you still have your receipt, so go along with receipt and bank statement. Good luck.

I think you may have answered your own question Dory! It's normal because it happens - I hadn't realised until this discussion started. If enough people challenge it then it will stop. They do it because they can.

If it is normal why is it not better publicised? How much money do they make through holding on to our cash, without our permission, for a week or so?

A scam that can happen i believe is, if when you replace the nozzel the machine does not shut its self of quickly the scammer/thief will know this. He /She pulls up behind you in a high top van so the camera can not see them carry out the theft, they then proceed to fill up the big fuel containers, put them back in the van and drive off with out paying.

Another way of legaly taking your money is to create confusion within the monthly statement and selling of products. Banks, telephone, gas, electric,etc etc. You have to ask yourself why as a example why all banks do not set out the format of the statement in exactly the same way and in a user friendly way. I do not now about France but in England there has been, as you will all know, banks have been misselling certain products, and now they have to pay compensation. The banks can not afford to let all those millions if not billions be removed from the system. So they have to devise other ways of clawing back that money. ''If we do not check our bills/statements'',products we buy from them, which most of us do not, and big business knows this, we really only have our self to blame when it goes wrong. I think Julie has done well to highlite a potential problem that could be seen to be dishonest in years to come if and when someone is willing to challenge what the French banks are doing today.

Hi all

This is a perfectly normal process more or less throughout the world, certainly Europe and N America. Your credit card balance will be adjusted in about a week or so.The hotels and care hire companies do the same thing, though not quite so obviously. They estimate the amount you will spend, and have that recorded against your balance, so in effect your credit limit is reduced by that amount, but of course you do not get told and nothing apparently happens.

Peter S

I certainly don't think they're not that canny - just don't know what the french equivalent is! :)

I have been able to use the scanning facility of passing my UK card over a reader just about everywhere for the last few years, but only in big cities here. That is far safer, plus with the receipt you have the assurance of being able to check online if there are doubts and having online banking people immediately look at it. I am very careful having known too many people who have had overcharging and money go missing whose banks do nothing about it. My bank here in France is good too, I have one person in charge of my account. I can call her with enquires or go to see her if I have 'issues' and those are resolved in my presence if possible but dealt with and me informed if not.

Perhaps it is the Scot in me and the inherent meanness (had to throw that in) but actually having a Swiss OH, thus she being from a (neighbouring) country where banking is more or less a science, she insists on being on the ball here.