CINCINNNATI — Grocery pickup is so convenient: just place your order on your phone, and pick it up a few hours later.
But we have a caution for anyone using a debit card for that order after two WCPO viewers complained to us about overdrawing their checking account when shopping at Kroger.
Tom Fairbanks of North Avondale is a big fan of grocery pickup, and loves using Kroger Pickup (formerly Click List).
But he wonders if something has changed.
"I was going to take my wife out to dinner on Saturday night, and I went to my bank account and it said I was overdrawn," Fairbanks said.
So he looked at his debit card statement and discovered he had been charged $94 when he placed his pickup order, then $89 for the actual order a day later.
That left his checking account $82 in the red, leaving him unable to use his debit card all weekend.
Faribanks says as far as his bank is concerned, it is almost as if he went out and bought a load of groceries, and the next day went out and bought those exact same groceries again.
"It wound up being $183 for my $89 pickup order," he said.
Why it appears your card was charged twice
So he called, and learned it was a temporary "debit card hold."
Kroger's pickup website warns debit card users about this, stating, "when you place an order, your bank puts an authorization hold on your card to confirm the card is valid. The hold should be released in 3 to 7 business days."
The same thing happens with Kroger gas pumps, where your debit card is hit to make sure you have at least $100 in your checking account, even before you pump a drop of gasoline.
Kroger has had that policy in place for several years.
But another viewer, Pat Kincaid, told us it just happened to her for the first time, hitting her debit card for over $140 twice, when she placed a recent pickup order.
"I have been using this service from the beginning of the pandemic and have only experienced this now," she said in an email.
Kroger spokeswoman Jen Moore tells us nothing has changed at their end in the past year, meaning that some banks may now be holding the initial charge longer, before they release the funds.
How to prevent a problem
The only real solution may be switching to a credit card, or using your debit card as credit.
"They said if you have a credit card it would be different," Fairbanks said. "But I said that's not fair."
Other places that can put large holds on your debit card include rental cars, gas stations, and hotels.
So be very careful using debit cards if you don't have at least a few hundred dollars' pad in your checking account.
That way you don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money" is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. ("Scripps").
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