Because I have a voice via my blog and my twitter account - and all the support from the people connected to me in that way - I am documenting the timeline of Asda taking money from my account whilst I attempted to pay for goods in store.
This is to emphasis the level of anger, upset, inconvenience, customer service and all that is connected to this experience. It is not an isolated event as you only have to search for "Asda took money twice" on Google to see almost half a million related searches.
Friday 19th April 2013 - 7pm
- Visit to Adsa Blackburn to purchase goods costing £24. Also request £10 cashback.
- Debit card inserted into chip&pin machine at the till. Screen reads "remove card", cashier tells me to remove card.
- The till does not produce a receipt. I am told that the transaction hasn't taken place so to insert my card again and repeat the process.
- The till does not produce a receipt again. I am told to try again.
- On the third attempt my card is declined.
- I know I have money in the account as I checked before going in-store. I tell the cashier that I will go and draw money from their ATM outside.
- The ATM shows that I have a balance of £26 in my account. I request a mini-statement. This shows that two payments of £34 each have been taken in the last ten minutes.
- I walk back into store and request to see the duty manager.
- The duty manager obtains the till receipt from the till, examines it and explains that Asda do not have my money. My money is apparently in a "holding account" and will be returned to me in about three working days.
- The conversation that follows sees me getting slightly angrier and explaining that I now do not have enough money in my account to see me through the weekend.
- Another manager is called. He explains that no-one from Head Office is available to assist as they are closed.
- After a 45 minute conversation, the second duty manager agrees to refund one payment of £34 in cash to me as "a gesture of goodwill". I will have to wait until Thursday to see if any money is returned to my account and then go in-store to return this £34 if both payments are "refunded".
- I give the staff my contact details in case the till is "up" by £68 when cashing up is done later in the evening.
- I am not allowed back in store to re-purchase my goods. I am told that I am not banned from the store. The £34 "goodwill gesture" is to ensure that I have enough cash for the weekend.
- I go home and take to Twitter to express my anger. Tweet 1 | Tweet 2 (you can read the rest on my twitter account @nickie72)
Saturday 20th April 2013
- No contact from Asda
- A few people tweet me to ask if anything has been resolved. I have to reply in the negative.
Sunday 21st April 2013 - 11.30am
- Asda Service Team tweet me and ask to make contact by phone. I request the name of someone within the team so I can speak to them direct.
- Phil, duty manager of the customer service team assures me that he intends to sort this out today with a positive outcome. He is sympathetic, understands my anger, expresses that if it was him in this situation he'd also be angry. He acknowledges my twitter following and again expresses determination to sort the issue out today. He is going to ring the Blackburn store and find out exactly what happened from their point of view.
- Phil returns the call a little under an hour later. The outcome is not good. The managers that were on duty on Friday are not in the store today. The duty manager in store today is aware of the situation due to hand-over information. Phil informs me that this will not be resolved today. He is ringing me on Monday at 12 noon to update me on the situation.
- I feel deflated.
I am disappointed that the weekend duty manager at the Blackburn store knew of the situation but has not contacted me to confirm if the till balanced or not at the end of the day on Friday. I am even more disappointed by the fact that Phil from the service team was able to make a confident promise to sort this out and then not see that through. Phil asked me how I expected this to be resolved. I explained that I expect it not to happen in the first place. I expect the Asda store in Blackburn to be able to cash a till up and return my money immediately. I expect that this not-so-rare event to have been addressed and for it not to be happening in a day and age where we rely so heavily on electronic systems. I expect to be kept up-to-date with developments without me having to turn to social media and my blog to get attention. I expect customer service to do exactly what it says on the tin and not leave the customer hanging on, waiting, not knowing what the outcome will be.
My main concern is that I do not have enough money now to put petrol in my car to be able to travel to work for the next three days. How is it fair that I am having to be placed in almost financial hardship (albeit for a couple of days) whilst Asda attempt to sort this out?
For those who would query a contingency plan for not having any money available I say to you that my contingency plan is actually having money in my account after budgeting effectively. It is not my fault that there is an electronic fault on the Adsa chip&pin machines.
If you have found yourself in a similar situation please let me know in the comments.
1 - 22nd April 2013 - 8.30am
- Phil from Customer Services phone (early) to request my debit card details. He is going to contact the bank to ensure the payment(s) are returned to my account before our booked phone conversation at noon. It is hopeful progress.
2 - 12.00 (noon)
- Phil calls again as promised. He cannot authorise the return of money to my bank account as the transaction number from Friday has not yet been obtained!! (three and a half days, and counting...)
- As a(nother) gesture of goodwill he tells me that there is £100 in cash waiting for me at the Blackburn store to collect on my way home from work. This is to keep. Once the original payments are returned to my bank account they are also to keep - I do not have to return to store to 'give any money back'.
- Phil has sent me an email confirming our conversation and I explain to him that I want to pick this up again on Thursday to confirm if the money has or has not been returned to my account. This still isn't resolved by long shot.
- Phil attempts to reassure me that the "chip&pin transaction error" issues are being looked into.
3 - 5pm - in store
- I request to see the on-duty customer service manager who is one of the staff that was part of the conversation on Friday.
- She remembers me (!) and hands me £100 in cash as arranged.
- She explains that there is no transaction number for the till error as no receipt was printed on the day. I query the fact that there was indeed a receipt because four of us were pouring over one trying to work out the error on Friday. She decides not to respond.
- (at the ATM) I check my bank balance and no money has been returned to my account. I shall check each day until Thursday when I shall pick up this conversation again with Phil.
4 - Wednesday 24th April
- I notice that a direct debit has bounced, incurring charges of £10. An email is sent to Phil.
- I forward an appropriately redacted screen grab of my bank account by email as ordering a paper statement will incur further charges.
- Phil responds quite quickly and offers me a cheque for the amount of the bank charges (which could take two weeks to arrive) or a gift card (which could take a week to arrive). I accept the gift card, even though I know it is a bit contrived because I can only spend that amount in store.
- I stress to Phil that no money has been returned to my account yet and I would like to book a call with him the following day if we are still in the same situation
5 - Thursday 25th April
- No money has been returned to my account!
- We are now on the "fourth working day" so I email Phil again and ask him to call me to discuss this as arranged.
- Phil feels as let down as me (I doubt it very much!) so has decided to escalate this complaint to the Executive Relations Team who will call me later today.
- They have until 4pm as I leave work shortly after that.
6 - Thursday 25th April - 2.50pm
- I receive a phone call from Lauren in the Executive Relations Team who tells me that I've been fed bullshit for the past six days (my words, not hers) and that it can take up to five days for my money to be returned to my account.
- I wonder if you can guess what my reaction to this was?
- She also tries to tell me that it was my decision to escalate this to her team until I read out Phil's email. She then admits that she has the email in front of her.
- She sympathises with me and "understands" how I feel. I ask if she's ever experienced this. She replies in the negative so I tell her she cannot understand how I feel.
- Lauren is ringing back at 12.30pm tomorrow (Friday) to see if my money has been returned to my bank account.
7 - Friday 26th April
- I work in an educational environment. Phones are to be off or on silent. I miss two calls but as the number is private I cannot call back.
- I return home from work after 5pm to an email from Lauren:
As promised, I called at 12:30 I’m sorry you were unavailable. I do hope the funds have dropped back into your account. If this has not been the case, you will need to contact your bank as the money is holding with them. These funds must pass through their clearing system in the same way a cheque does. This is what slows the process down and is something we have no control over. The banks ultimately control this aspect of any refund back into a customer's account. We are unable to push this through for you. Thank you for your time, I hope you have a lovely weekend.
- I check my bank account and no money has been returned
- I have attempted to call my bank but the out-of-hours foreign call centre do not understand what is going on and have advised me to go into my local branch on Monday.
- *huge fucking sigh*
- I hope Lauren and Phil are having a "lovely weekend". No. Wait! I don't mean that, do I?
8 - Saturday 27th April
- The 'missing funds' have appeared in my bank account overnight
- The gift card as repayment for the bounced direct debit fees arrives
All appears to have been resolved but I still don't believe that I should have to wait EIGHT DAYS for the return of MY MONEY, regardless of who or what is to blame for the initial error. Someone, somewhere knows what went wrong and how to fix it. There is no such thing as a 'computer error'. All computer are programmed by humans initially.
I deal with payments and transactions at work, can send a money authorisation from our business account and expect it to appear in the payee account almost immediately, or at least within two hours. I can do the same from my own personal bank account but have limited control over that. I do expect it to move within the same working day though. Even Paypal transactions and withdrawals are now almost immediate.
It would be nice to have a continued dialogue with Asda from a customer perspective so that they continue to try and fix this issue as was mentioned by Phil early last week although I doubt very much that will happen. It would also be nice to have feedback from the CEO, Andy Clarke, because, as mentioned right at the beginning of this fiasco, this is not an isolated incident. It happens on a regular basis and some people aren't lucky enough to have a blog to spout off on or a social media following to help share their anger and disappointment.
I have had amazing offers of help from friends and strangers (no names mentioned, you know who you are) and for that I am eternally grateful even though I did not need to take up the offer. As regular readers here know, I am a huge believer in the method of 'paying it forward' so the kindness will continue to ripple.
However, my final word is something I said a few days ago. In the current climate, where many people (myself included) have finances that are stretched to the limit, effective budgeting has been created and there is no emergency fund, it IS NOT FAIR that we are still at the mercy of large, profitable organisations who can choose whether or not to assist.
Thank you for reading, following, sharing and supporting.