If you ever use a debit card to buy gas, you may be familiar with stations temporarily holding $25 or $50 of your money, just to make sure you have enough funds to pay for your fill-up.
But that's nothing compared to what a Clermont County, Ohio woman was hit with when she recently bought gas at a Kroger fuel center.
Shari Renfro stopped to get gas at the Eastgate Kroger store off Rt. 32, swiped her debit card and pumped $47 worth of gas into her minivan.
But when her daughter ran into the store for a drink and snacks a few minutes later, she says the debit card, which had well over $100 on it, was empty.
"She said there was no money on it," Renfro said. "But I knew I had plenty of money on it."
Her debit card was hit with a $125 "hold," which prevented her from accessing that amount of money for a full day, she ays.
"They held $125, which cleared that account, which I think is wrong," Renfro said.
Not just Kroger
More and more gas stations are doing this, at higher and higher amounts, for one simple reason: to prevent drive offs, from people who don't have enough money on their card for a fill-up.
It's called a debit card "pre-authorization hold," and it is perfectly legal.
It can now range from $50 to $125 dollars, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores.
Kroger's pumps now plainly state they may hold $125 for up to 2 days. We saw the sticker on the front of the Eastgate pumps explaining the hold, though Renfro said she never looked at it closely.
"My question is: where is that money? And their answer wa, it is floating in the cloud," Renfro said.
Kroger tells 9 On Your Side "we release the hold within a few minutes, but cannot control how long a bank controls the funds." (See full Kroger statement below)
Shari Renfro just wonders how many families tight on cash are hurt by this gas pump surprise.
"What about a single mother," she wondered. "It's your money and that was your money to get medicine, feed your children, etcetera."
One way to avoid this is to avoid using debit at a gas pump. Pay with cash or credit so you don't waste your money.
“Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”).
Follow John on Twitter ( @JohnMatarese )
Sign up for John's free newsletter by clicking here
For more consumer news and money saving advice, go to www.dontwasteyourmoney.com
Click here for more WCPO.com consumer reports
Contact John at email@example.com
Full Kroger Statement: Kroger is required by credit/debit card companies (Visa, MC, etc.) to do a pre-authorization amount for fuel purchases. They send us guidance on what those pre-authorization amounts should be – typically between $75-$150. Banks determine how long the pre-authorization hold will be on the card/account. Kroger has no control over how long a bank holds the funds in pre-authorization. We send the final amount within a few minutes of the transaction. Some banks release right away; others do not. We would prefer that they release the hold right away. Currently in Cincinnati, we have a pre-authorization for debit cards at fuel pumps for $125. We base that on the price of fuel, taking into account how it can fluctuate. Kroger Fuel Centers serve individual customers, in addition to commercial businesses/trucks, which can take a lot more to fuel then your standard vehicle. We continuously evaluate pre-authorization amounts and will adjust when needed