Delayed card transactions and consequences


So, I wanted to post this here, in the hope that someone who knows more about the world of card transactions than I do could give an opinion.

The following happened to me with a competitor of Monzo’s recently. I shall not name it (although I’m sure you can all guess who it is), because my question isn’t about the competitor, but about industry practices:

  • In early September I went to Pret and paid with said competitor’s card. I got a notification and it was deducted from my account.
  • About 5 days later I got another notification that the charge was reversed. Odd, I though, I need to contact the bank to see what’s happening. Life is busy, I forgot.
  • Yesterday (I.e. almost exactly a month later, I had forgotten about the reversed transaction) I happened to open said competitor’s app on my phone for the first time in a few weeks. I noticed that just yesterday morning there was a charge from Pret on my account although I hadn’t been to Pret in weeks. As the balance was really low I was now at a balance of 2p. I did not get a notification for this transaction,
  • I contacted the bank’s support (always easier to do when money is taken, than when it’s given to you :blush:) and was told
    • The transaction was linked to the one last month
    • The original auth was reversed by the merchant. Likely in error.
    • After the merchant noticed they repeated the transaction offline yesterday morning. There are no notifications for offline transactions
    • Had there been 3p less in my account, I would’ve gone into unauthorised overdraft.
    • This unauthorised overdraft would’ve resulted in charges, and crucially reporting to credit reporting agencies.
    • There is no time limit for a merchant to repeat a transaction in this way. Theoretically they could do that 10 years after the original auth (although the card would’ve expired by then, presumably)

Now to my actual question: It’s particularly those last two points that don’t seem right to me: Is it standard practice that merchants can repeat transactions for years after the original? Is there no “statue of limitations”? Is it standard practice to report those cases to CRAs? After all it’s not my fault at all. Or do you reckon these are simply policies of a specific bank?

I would love to have some thoughts on this matter from those in the finance world…

Merchant changing sale amount GAP clothing
Tesco takes payments from customers' cards MONTHS after they went shopping
Unexpected Refunds
(Tony Hoyle) #2

IIRC they have 6 months - Years wouldn’t make any sense… It’s really shoddy behaviour though, especially when these days everything is electronic and should take at most seconds.


In the UK you can’t start to pursue a debt more than 6 years after it occurred. (Except for the tax man!)

(Jamie 🏳️‍🌈) #4

If you had spent the money in Pret, and then spent again somewhere else resulting in an overdraft then it is your responsibility. That’s the key word here. Monzo and other banks with instant notifications can help you budget, but it is still your responsibility to spend only what you can afford if you do not wish to have an overdraft. If you’re worried about going into the red may I suggest you keep a minimum of £10 or £20 in your account to buffer against an overdraft.


I guess that’s some consolation. :smiley:

I see were you are coming from here, and I guess you are right, it’s not really “not my fault at all”, but at least partially also the merchant’s fault since they reversed the original transaction. (I usually have a buffer of at least £100 in all my current accounts at all times, but since I don’t really use that bank any more, that wasn’t the case here.)

It still rubs me as wrong that a merchant can just present a transaction years after the fact. Presumably a merchant could do the same with a cloned/stolen card, and I would have no way of proving a fraudulent transaction years later, as I would have no recollection, let alone evidence, of events that happened up to 6 years ago.

(Tony Hoyle) #6

I presume this last case is why cards have expiration dates (although continuous authority overrides that, that’s a different problem).


Interestingly I had the exact same issue yesterday with the exact same competitor, although I don’t ever recall seeing the reversal notification.

Wonder if Pret have had an issue and kept quiet about it.


That’s what I was told in a kind of PS to the chat a few hours later:

Pret A Manger appear to have had an issue with payments made on the 11th of September which they have processed offline payments to claim back funds that appear to have been reversed by them in error


Incorrect. You cannot report on it after six years of the last payment / payment has defaulted. You can continue to collect for as long as debt is owing and you continue to contact the consumer. You can even legally enforce the debt after a debt is no longer being reported on your credit report.

However your use of “start” would refer to legal action after six years, I presume. Which you can’t do if you haven’t regularly contacted a consumer. You can ask for the money back for as long as it’s outstanding.

The other thing you could be referring to is statute barred, which is a different beast altogether.

Source: worked in debt recovery.


So I was correct, You cannot start proceedings to collect a debt after 6 years in the UK


Only if you are referring to legal. ie through courts. You can still collect the debt.


How do you collect a debt that is not legally enforceable?


You contact your customer and say you owe xyz and they pay it back… You only ever need the legal side if the customer isn’t forthcoming.


So a customer that has avoided paying your debt for 6 years is going to suddenly pay up because you said so?


You would be surprised at how many people do.


yes I would!

blah blah blah


Sadly, I would not. Debt collection people are possibly the only people on the planet worse than estate agents. (present company excepted, I’m sure)

I lived in a place once were the previous tenants hadn’t paid some bills. The sort of stuff they debt collectors did, is unbelievable (turning up on the doorstep on a Saturday on 4am, I once called the police because I thought a burglar was trying to break in, threatening my poor wife they’d take the car.) i can absolutely imagine that a less stubborn person (and perhaps one that is vulnerable in one way or another) would have paid up even a stranger’s debt to be left alone…


wow that must have been really intimidating.

(Tony Hoyle) #19

Yeah have lived in places where people have defaulted on debts before. Never again…

We had one that was professional and as soon as they realized they had the wrong person, apologised and left.

Others have either turned up repeatedly after being told they had the wrong person, or started sending letters with court threats with no name attached so it sounds like ‘the occupier’ is liable for the debt.

Bonus points for the one that did both and tried to transfer the debt into our name after finding out who lived at the house…

(Herp Derp) #20

The Limitation Act 1980 sets out the rules on how long a creditor (who you owe money to) has to take certain action against you to recover a debt. The time limits do not apply to all types of recovery action. Also, the time limits are different depending on the type of debt that you have. This fact sheet outlines when you can use the Limitation Act.

Limitation periods for debts are important, because if the creditor has run out of time, you may not have to pay the debt back.