Furious drivers have blasted an ‘unbelievable’ £99 ‘deposit’ charge for using pay-at-pump stations.
Supermarkets and energy companies have quietly imposed the collossal new pre-authorisation fee at selected pumps before it is rolled out nationwide.
The fee will replace the £1 pre-authorisation charge and affect both diesel and petrol users regardless of how much fuel they want to purchase.
This is due to ‘amendments to the rules’ by credit card companies Mastercard and Visa, according to Tesco.
The grocery giant was slammed by shoppers threatening to boycott Tesco after the fee was piloted at its Stevenage Broadwater Superstore.
But a Tesco spokesman told MailOnline this is the only pump where they have imposed the fee so far, while another source said Sainsbury’s have already begun using the fee at 60 pumps across the UK.
Morrisons refused to comment on the new charge and referred questions about it to the British Retail Consortium.
A motorist on Twitter hit out at the new charge as ‘unbelievable’.
The user, called ‘NiceConvos’ on Twitter with a Scotland flag in their name, said: ‘Have you heard about the new rule when you buy fuel and pay at the pump by card?
‘Unbelievable!! You know how they charge you £1 and then charge the amount that you used and the pound often stays pending for a few days? They will hold £99 soon and then charge you!!’
Drivers across the UK have flooded social media with similar complaints, saying the new charge is unfair.
One motorist described the new rules as ‘horrendous’ for people living on a shoe-string.
Why has the £99 Pay-at-Pump ‘pre-authorisation fee’ been introduced and how does it work?
The ‘pre-authorisation’ system aims to stop people who don’t have enough funds from filling up their vehicles and to stamp out theft.
It will be replacing the £1 fee currently charged at most pumps.
To use the stations customers will need to enter their PIN.
A ‘pre-authorisation’ check will ‘ring-fence’ a sum of cash up to £99 to ensure the driver has enough funds.
Motorists will then be charged for the amount of fuel they purchased.
The remainder will usually immediately be refunded once they have finished filling up.
‘TidyTops’ on Twitter said: ‘If you don`t have minimum of £99 in your bank account you won`t be able to buy fuel – new rules are horrendous. I for one have a bank account with no overdraft, so what happens to us.’
All supermarkets and energy suppliers will be imposing the holding fee soon, with an amount up to £99 being ringfenced in customers’ accounts for a short time until the unused sum is immediately released.
Tesco said in a statement: ‘Under new rules implemented by Mastercard, Visa and American Express, we must now request authorisation from your card issuer for up to £99.
‘Once you’ve finished filling up, the final transaction amount is sent to your card issuer, and the remainder of any unused funds up to the maximum filling amount will be released back to your available balance.
‘We’ll only ever charge you for the value of the fuel you’ve actually purchased.’
For customers whose bank balance is below £99, the card provider ‘should respond with the lower amount they will allow, and the fuel pump screen will show the value you can fill up to’.
However it admitted some card issuers may not be able to do this and advised drivers to use another payment card – if they have one.
Asda tried the same scheme in 2018 but scrapped it following a similar outcry from drivers, saying at the time that ‘we always want to do the right thing for our customers’.
Reports at the time said the attempt was down to ‘a new European-style rule change by Visa and Mastercard’.
On the current changes, Mastercard told MailOnline: ‘The funds never leave anybody’s account and they are available for use immediately afterwards.’
The spokesperson added that Costco pumps have been using the system for 18 months and that the UK is an ‘anomaly’ because it is used all over Europe.
Mastercard added in a statement: ‘We are working together with banks and petrol stations to improve the way payments are made at ‘Pay At Pump’ sites.
‘The new process is designed to ensure more people’s cards can be used at the pump.
‘When you pay at pump using your card, a temporary hold of up to £100 is applied to your account prior to pumping the fuel.
‘You may see this initially on your banking App, but immediately after the fuel is dispensed the precise sum is withdrawn from your account, and any remainder of the held funds are released for use.
‘Should cardholders experience any issues or have any questions regarding this new process they should contact their bank.’
The levy has technically existed since 2017 when Visa and Mastercard changed the rules, but none of the supermarkets imposed it.