A few readers have reacted to my report (C-Store 27 July) about the retailer who was conned into losing £86.94 on a transaction because his machine spat up an authorisation code. Tracy Adams wrote from Middle Shop in Bangor-on-Dee, Wrexham: “I also had the same problem. Two businessmen (looked like) were staying locally and brought a selection of drink, cigarettes and savouries. The card machine instructed me to swipe the card, which I did, and it asked for a signature. I had an authorisation code so believed all was okay.
“The following week I had the money withdrawn by Worldpay. I queried this and they said to send the receipt and evidence from CCTV. I did and they still would not honour the transaction. I believe this is a much bigger problem and unfair treatment from Worldpay! How many more retailers have been short-changed with no help from card companies?”
I asked Worldpay for a response but none was forthcoming. I also contacted the Payments System Regulator (PSR) to see whether the PSR has any powers to intervene in disputes between merchants and acquirers.
Their response was quite interesting. A spokesman summarised the original story thus: “There’s a scam which is probably carried out by distracting the cashier and forcing the terminal to signature only. The merchant has attempted to get redress through their acquirer, Worldpay.”
That was indeed a correct summary. He added: “I think that the FCA might have more of an interest in the conduct of Worldpay with regards to the treatment of their customer (they are the conduct authority, whereas we are the economic regulator and concurrent competition authority), and I think that the escalation route for merchants unhappy with their acquirers is likely FOS (Financial Ombudsman Service).”
As Tracy says: “I really cannot see that if a retailer has followed instructions on a machine and received an authorisation code how this cannot be honoured. Where is the failsafe for businesses who are not big enough to fight?”
I’m sure she is also right about there being quite a few retailers who have suffered chargebacks. And because banks give consumers their money back when a transaction is disputed, the retailer becomes the fall guy.
It would be a good idea to approach the FOS. If enough of you do, there might be some action.