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A P.E.I. woman is warning shoppers to check their bank accounts carefully after she ended up paying three times for a purchase that showed “not completed” on a store’s debit machine.
Jacqueline Robinson’s money was trapped in limbo for nearly four weeks after an April 10 debit transaction at the Charlottetown Home Depot.
Somewhere between the time when the pensioner plugged in her debit card PIN at the store’s debit machine, but before the store received the payment, $55.02 of her money disappeared. All she was trying to buy was a tin of Varathane for $18.34 for a small home reno project.
After weeks of being told by Home Depot and her bank that neither had her money, Robinson is questioning where her three payments of $18.34 — all “Not completed” according to her store receipts — had vanished to.
“What recourse does the consumer have when both sides say, ‘It ain’t me,’ and you know darn well it’s whoever is controlling the money (flow)?” the retired university administrator said in an interview with The Guardian.
“It’s is as bad as (having your card) cloned,” said Robinson’s husband, David Kay. “You just don’t know, and your money’s still gone.”
After a customer punches in their PIN, money is sent from their account to a third party, like Interac. When the terminal confirms that the funds are available and released, the vendor then sends a code to the middle company to release the money. But if the transaction doesn’t register with the vendor, in this case Home Depot, then the money can get stuck with Interac or another middle company.
Other Charlottetown Home Depot shoppers may have also been affected by a faulty machine on April 10. Robinson says a cashier told her that the machine she used that day at about 1:45 p.m. had been having problems for over an hour.
However, in situations like Robinson’s, where no payment ever registers with Home Depot, the store remains unaware of any undue charges to customers’ cards for incomplete transactions unless the customer makes a complaint.
Robinson, who checks her bank and credit accounts online after she makes any purchase, recognized the debit error right away. After she flagged the error to Home Depot, the store reported the situation to Interac on April 16. In an email to the Guardian, her bank, BMO, explained that it can take up to 30 days to sort out refunds after the bank “(sends) a request to the biller to investigate what had happened.”
As of May 6, Robinson had received refunds for two of her three transactions. She said that instead of going through the weeks-long process for her third, she and Home Depot have settled on an “unofficial compensation solution.”
While she managed to get her money back because she noticed the error soon after it occurred, Robinson knows that if it went undetected and she had bills to pay, she could have found herself paying overdraft bank fees.
“This is a warning for people who don’t check their accounts frequently,” she said.
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