In the last week there has been a slew of articles about customers being charged twice due to contactless payment in Marks & Spencer and Pret a Mange. What seems to have occured is that when a contactless card comes within range of the terminal it charges the card – EVEN if you were paying with a different card.
So the card you are intending to pay with gets charged, then the terminal attaches the payment also to the contactless one in your bag or wallet.
Customers charged twice for items because contactless cards were activated from their pockets
Fears that a new generation of debit cards could be hitting shoppers with phantom charges grew last night after a string of complaints.
They say money was taken from their contactless payment cards – even when they did not try to use them – at stores including Marks & Spencer.
The latest incidents come after similar complaints from shoppers at other stores and outlets.
Shoppers say the M&S Smile cards were charged without their permission while they were paying with a standard bank card or cash.
The system, which can be used for goods worth up to £20, is supposed to work only when the cards are placed within two inches of special terminals at the checkout.
But customers who got in touch with the Money Box show on Radio 4 said they were charged when the plastic was in their purse and well away from the readers – meaning they unwittingly paid twice.
And sandwich chain Pret A Manger is said to be investigating similar claims by a customer whose card was more than 11inches from a reader.
A victim of the M&S error, identified only as Rosemary, told Money Box her Smile card was activated about a foot away from the reader at a store in Chichester, West Sussex – even though she was paying with her Lloyds debit card instead.
She said: ‘I put my card into the reader and the assistant was asking whether or not I wanted cash back.
‘Before I could answer, the transaction came up as complete and the till issued a receipt, so I hadn’t put in a PIN at all at that stage.
I queried it with an assistant and she looked rather puzzled and looked at the receipt and compared it to my card and realised that the numbers didn’t tally.’
The number on the receipt belonged to the Smile card, which had been in her purse. She was given a full refund.
Another shopper, Paula, said she put her NatWest card into the terminal at a London M&S store, only to find her contactless card was also charged – even though it was in her purse. She was given her money back when she returned to the store with a bank statement.
The errors have raised fears that other shoppers may have been double charged without their knowledge.
M&S takes more than 250,000 contactless payments a week from the system, introduced last year, which it uses in all 644 of its UK stores.
The retailer admitted receiving five complaints and said refunds were issued where double payments had been made.
A spokesman said the system was ‘robust and fit for purpose’ but wanted to hear from any customer who had experienced the error.
The system uses a weak radio signal to read data from the card’s chip. Visa Europe, which supplies the technology, said reports of involuntary payments were ‘extremely rare’ and it was working with M&S to examine the problem.
The UK Cards Association, which represents debit and credit card firms, said: ‘We do think there is a bit more we can do in educating cardholders to tell them not to put their wallet down in this quite narrow field when they pay.
There is perhaps more shops can do in terms of cashiers knowing there are two forms of payment.’
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