Saturday, May 14, 2011

Don't fall for trumped-up credit card "phone bill" surcharge

I wrote to my bank manager yesterday about something that happened while I was on the road. The episode is what prompted my earlier post about pigtailed Chinamen. Don't get cowed into accepting additional charges. Even if you have to pay, insist on a detailed accounting - this opens them up for liability under whatever consumer protection and merchant agreements that may govern them, so they'll never do it.

"Just want to alert you to something going on at N.P.G. Appusinhgho & Sons Lanka Filling Station, Ratnapura.

I stopped there earlier today to pump diesel, and when I checked whether they accept credit cards the attendant told me they have a flat surcharge of Rs. 10/- per card transaction, which he said was to cover the "phone bill." He said I would have to agree to that before he would pump diesel. I said it would be ok as long as I was given a bill mentioning the cost of the diesel pumped (I wanted Rs. 2,000/- worth) and the additional charge separately.

Once the diesel was pumped I was brought the credit card slip for Rs. 2010/-. I did not sign the slip and asked for an additional bill as I had asked, giving the breakdown. The station supervisor got involved at this point and I repeated my request. The supervisor told me he would give me a bill for Rs. 2010/- and I repeated that I would like the breakdown to be shown on the bill. The supervisor brought me a bill for a single figure of Rs. 2010/-. When I repeated my insistence on a breakdown, a person who appeared to be the owner, who had been watching from the office nearby, appeared to instruct the attendant and supervisor to settle the issue. The supervisor made a show of telling the attendant that he should have made sure I agreed to the additional charge. Another attendant then came along and gave me back cash for Rs. 10/- to repay the surcharge."

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