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Chip and Pin machine issue Torrevieja Spain

I put issue not scam because it could of been an honest mistake. Whilst in Torrevieja Spain earlier this year a friend i was travelling with wanted to buy some clothes for his daughter which came to €150. He put his card in the chip and pin machine when the clerk said it had been declined and to try again which he did only realising he had been charged €150 twice when he read the print out fortunately we are both able to read basic spanish , when we challenged this the clerk got the manager who came out shouting at us denying that the clerk had made the mistake, a quick phone call to the bank ensured €150 was refunded but this took ten days. The manager was unwilling to contact the shops bank for whatever reason

An unfortunate end to a good trip to Spain we encountered no other problems on the trip, has anyone else had this happen to them, do some people try to take advantage of the fact most people don't pay attention to the print outs of card payments or can not read the local language or was it just an honest mistake by the clerk

Posted by
16858 posts

There may have been a technical problem that led to display of a "declined" message on the credit-card device despite the charge having gone through. That happened to me in Romania. The "declined" report wasn't a surprise because I had had some issues with that particular card in Germany. I just pulled out my back-up card and used it. Later that evening, the person who processed the charge--and very luckily knew where I was staying--called me to report that the end-of-day credit card report showed that both charges had gone through. Bless her for being both alert and honest. She processed a refund that evening.

I've also been hit with a duplicate charge in the US, again after the card terminal indicated the first attempt had been declined. If the folks in the Spanish shop hadn't seen that problem before, they might not have been in a hurry to accept that there was a technical glitch.

I had no difficulties of that type in Spain this summer, but over the course of 89 days there were four occasions (involving two hotels and two restaurants, one of which was in an offending hotel) when I was charged in dollars without authorizing the switch from euros. Without exception, all the people processing the charges claimed the dollar charge was the same as the euro charge (of course it was not, that's why they do it) and that they did not know how to process a refund. All were at least borderline rude. I stood my ground and ultimately got things straightened out, but it did leave me with the impression that there are a few businesses in Spain whose policy is to take advantage of their customers from non-euro countries and deny-deny-deny when caught. It does make for an unpleasant experience, but I hope that if enough travelers realize what is going on and fight back, they'll eventually decide it isn't worth their while to pull that sort of trick.

Posted by
9363 posts

€150 is the same in English and Spanish. Though I suppose it is possible, I don't think the store was deliberately trying to double charge you, nor do I really think the clerk was to blame. Things happen with credit cards and machines sometimes, and the manager was probably right that the clerk didn't make a mistake. Your double charge was refunded, so all is well. Anyone should be vigilant with their receipts, no matter where they are. I've been double charged plenty of times, even at my local grocery store. I've also had a card declined, only to find out later that it actually went through.

Posted by
9363 posts

There are a few businesses in Spain whose policy is to take advantage of their customers from non-euro countries and deny-deny-deny when caught.

Given the number of times we have explained DCC to people here on the helpline who were unaware of its existence, I think it's fair to say that there are store clerks and managers who might not know about it, either, and might not understand the implications. You can't assume they are simply trying to cheat you.

Posted by
440 posts

thanks #acraven these things do happen but it did say on both receipts pago authorisado (payment authorised) i suppose that with the chip and pin machines we have in Britain and europe they do play up from time to time am just glad my friends bank were understanding and refunded the extra charge. as for your comment regarding the dollar and euro charge this is also another area were you can be charged extra albeit small amounts without you knowing, when using your debit card/creditcard at cash machines in europe always withdraw in euros not your home currency as you will lose again only a small amount due to the currency exchange rates

Posted by
16858 posts

Nancy, I'm generally inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt, but it's clear that either the servers/clerks were lying or the hotel/restaurant management lied to them about the conversion rate. And not knowing how to process a credit card refund--really? In a hotel one block from Pl. Catalunya in Barcelona or two blocks from the (pilgrim-swamped) cathedral in Burgos? I'm not buying it, which means those two clerks lied about not knowing how to refund the dollar-based transactions. I'll grant that the server in the small restaurant in Ripoll might just possibly never have needed to do a credit card refund, but that was one out of four transactions.

The two hotel incidents just confirmed my inclination to pay hotel bills the night before departure, when there's no shortage of time if there are issues to clear up.

Posted by
16771 posts

"He put his card in the chip and pin machine when the clerk said it had been declined and to try again which he did only realising he had been charged €150 twice when he read the print out..."

I don't understand when the issue became apparent. Which print out? Do you mean that the credit card receipt printed by the store showed a total of €300? I don't think most cash registers would be capable of that. Or he received two store receipts?

Or do you mean that he saw two €150 charges pending on his online credit card statement? That is quite common when the system doesn't communicate well, give a false decline message, so a second approval hold is issued in the next attempt. But only one charge will eventually be completed and the other will disappear after about 5 days (does not need to be refunded by the store). Credit card web sites are consistently misleading about how they display this.

Posted by
440 posts

Hi Laura
After the second time of entereing the pin number the clerk handed two print outs from the card machine each with €150 payment authorised, this is when my friend contacted his bank and they confirmed over the phone that two seperate transactions for €150 had been completed but a refund could not be given for 10 days. this was an inconvienince and the incident put a downer on the last day of our trip, these things do happen and our genuine mistakes but they can prove costly and time consuming.

Posted by
3322 posts

Wasn't one of those printouts supposed to be the one you sign for the shop and then the other you keep? Even if it is a chip & PIN machine, it only works that way if you enter your PIN. Otherwise you have to sign a receipt just like you do back home in the US.

There may have been a timeout issue where the first attempt generated an authorization hold on the account but only the second attempt actually completed and returned the approval to the shop. Happens a lot. The authorization clears off your account at the point it expires (which depends on how long of a time the merchant requests the hold) or when the matching posting (clearing) comes through. Depending on your card issuer and how they show pending transactions, it can appear that duplicate charges were made, which can be very frustrating.

Since the "refund" took 10 days, I am thinking it was simply a duplicate auth that eventually aged off and freed up the money.

Posted by
440 posts

With chip and pin you dont sign anything thats the idea of it so once you enter your pin and remove card the retailer gets a print out and the customer also get one no signing, however in many larger stores in spain when making a purchase by card you have to show id along with your card,