Last month I got hit by my bank after a little scam that I had certainly never considered before, but which must effect thousands of people per year.
Checking into a hotel, I was required to give my card details. I was informed that a £240 deposit would be marked against the card - roughly I assume the cost of my stay, and the value of the mini-bar!
On leaving a few days later I paid the £195 bill with my card, and naturally assumed the £240 would be cancelled. Come the end of the week, and I was astonished to find my bank had charged me £25 for going overdrawn, even though I had not done so. What followed was a kafkaesque journey into a world where big organisations blame each other, and the individual is the loser.
I had used my debit card as security at the hotel. Legally this gives the hotel the right for up to seven days to remove that money from my account - even if I have left the hotel, and paid in full after one night. Needless to say this is not explained to you by the receptionist. This sum is marked against your bank balance, so even if it is not actually used, it is a reserved sum that can be withdrawn.
My hotel insisted the bank should not have viewed the transaction in such a way. My bank insisted the hotel should have cancelled the transaction on my departure. Only after very lengthy phonecalls did the bank refund me my £25, and the whole experience has left a rather bitter taste in the mouth.
My conclusions are:
* If stopping in a hotel, use a credit card for deposits, or cash
* On departing, insist that all previous transactions are cancelled
* If banks charge you unfairly, do not stop arguing with them until they see sense
* Remember - scratch any major capitalist organisation, and you find a thief