Pending transaction/missing payment problem

Over the years I’ve experienced a problem using Monzo, which is to make a payment online by card and for Monzo to debit that money out of my account as a pending transaction but for the merchant not to collect it.

I’ve experienced this somewhere in the region of 8-10 times (but three in the last few months or so). They have been a mild inconvenience, forcing me to spend time getting the merchant to track down the transaction one way or another, or, in the case of a foreign mobile phone company, just losing the money forever.

But now I’m in a position where it is delaying an important and urgent transaction, and the merchant is refusing to discuss it with their bank or payment provider, telling me the attempted payment failed and I’ll just have to make it again.

On the occasions that I’ve contacted Monzo about this their stock answer has always been that it is the merchant’s fault for not collecting.

But I have a few of questions about that.

  1. Why have I only ever experienced this with Monzo?
  2. Why does it only happen with card payments, but not if I switch to Apple Pay (which is how I stopped losing money to the foreign mobile phone company)?
  3. Why does this happen at all? What triggers it?
  1. Bad luck/the card you use the most. It happens with every bank/card. Lots of banks show your balance and available. Monzo doesn’t do this so it becomes more obvious.

  2. This can still happen with ApplePay AFAIK.

  3. The merchant not doing as they should.

You pay the merchant, they say “Monzo, does this person have the money?” “Yup” “Okay, hold it, we’ll be back” and then Monzo hold it for them to come back. They come back in a day or so and all is right with the world. Then if they don’t come back after 7/30 days, you’ll get it back.

That’s what’s supposed to happen. But there are various nuances and merchants not doing as they should that result in varying outcomes.


Thanks Revels. Technically what is taking place though? How can I explain it to the merchant who just keeps telling me they haven’t received the payment?

This is the merchant’s response (after I gave them the transaction ID and asked them to contact their bank or payment provider):

The transaction you refer to was not successful and is in pink [in an attached screenshot of their transactions in Sage]. As you will see from the screenshot, there is no refund option as this transaction was unsuccessful. No money was received from us.

In the ten years that we have been using Sage Pay we have never been told to contact our bank regarding a transaction so I find this very odd and as Sage Pay are the third party service provider for processing the transaction, we are unable to investigate further. We have several failed transactions each day.

I hope this clarifies the situation and if the amount has left your account, then I would suggest you need to contact your bank to stop the transaction.

The problem from my point of view isn’t that they failed to collect the payment.

The problem from my point of view is that they say the payment failed but the money is still being held by Monzo as a pending transaction, so I can’t use it to attempt the payment again.

Monzo are holding for them because they’ve said “hold that, BRB” but now aren’t coming back, but Monzo don’t know that.

They need to cancel and release the funds. Or you can wait 7 (or sometimes 30 days) for it to be done automatically.

If you contact Monzo they will tell you that you need proof that the merchant won’t collect or otherwise to wait.

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If I contact Monzo they tell me I need to fill out a form and wait 15 days.

And that form asks me for a receipt or proof of purchase, which of course I don’t have because the merchants says the transaction failed.

I also waited more than 30 days and never received two failed transactions back from Vodafone Portugal.

The merchant says the Sage Pay transaction report says the following:

Transaction CANCELLED by Sage Pay after 15 minutes of inactivity. This is normally because the customer closed their browser.

Which of course I didn’t. I followed exactly the same process as I did for a successful transaction with them 5 minutes before this one failed.

If the merchant’s payment system cancelled the transaction why does Monzo not know about this?

Hey @christiaanb sorry to hear about whats happened here!

As @Revels has rightly explained when a merchant comes to collect or present for a payment there are a few middle stages before the funds finally reach the intended destination.

In simple terms; when we make a payment the merchant receives the notification from their point of sale so that could be a terminal or over a website. Once received the merchant sent that request through to us and as Revels simply put it, its as if they are saying “BRB” meaning we ring fence the funds until the merchant comes back to ultimately finish the presentment or transaction this is normally a couple days after.

Unfortunately there are times as youve already experienced that you may be waiting longer than usual for failed payments to come back or not at all. In these cases we asks to speak to the merchant directly and collate any and all correspondence so that we can help any disputes raised. From the looks of the merchant response it should be enough evidence to reverse these funds earlier for you, but when our disputes team take a look theyll be able to confirm this for you.


Hi @_Tom, thanks for chiming in, but in this case the merchant’s payment system, Sage Pay, cancelled the payment within 15 mins.

Why is Monzo’s system ignorant of this? And why does Monzo’s system wait to hear back instead of pinging the payment system to check if the transaction is still valid, say, a day later?

I want to be in a position to tell the merchant exactly what went wrong, so they understand and can inform their payment provider. At the moment they’re blaming you.

Unfortunately the only way we can give a definitive answer is through the in-app chat when speaking to our specialist team as they’ll have access to your account and can see if there was an error on our side and go from there.

I would recommend asking to speak to our payments team or the disputes team may give an explanation regarding how this happened when they reach out.

We can only speculate on this forum but the concerte answer will come from our specialist team :slight_smile:

Okay, thanks, I’ve opened a dispute of the transaction.

@_Tom this doesn’t explain why it never happens with Apple Pay though. One reason I suspect the problem is Monzo’s is that I had multiple instances of this happening with Vodafone Portugal, but when I switched to using Apple Pay (using the same debit card) I no longer experienced the problem. Any idea why?

Unfortunately I’m not sure why - I would recommend seeing if our disputes team can address this query as they’ll have more information like I mentioned above :slight_smile:

Unfortunately I’ve now had to refer this to the complaints team.

  • My transaction dispute was closed with unanswered questions because the transaction was refunded (a week later). The unanswered questions being:
    • Why does Monzo hold onto the money for days despite the transaction being actively cancelled after 15 minutes by the merchant?
    • Why doesn’t Monzo at least check with the merchant, say, 1 hour later if the transaction is still valid?
    • Why does this only happen with standard card payments and not Apple Pay?
  • After reiterating my questions last week I was told it would be “escalated to the relevant team” but when I contacted support this morning to ask for an update on this escalation (with great difficulty trying to get to the Chat form) I was asked to explain the problem all over again. Not a good sign.

The answer I received this morning to my first question was “We are unable to see if the merchant has cancelled on our side.”

This is an incredible answer to me as a layman, and it only leads to my other two questions, which remain unanswered.

On the basis that the problem doesn’t exist using Apple Pay, it seems to me what’s going on is that there is something wrong with the way Monzo’s payment system is designed. And it remains a problem because when this problem arises the stock answer is that it is the merchant’s fault. Nobody follows through with a complaint because by the time they’ve got to the point of complaining the payment has been refunded.

I’ve been a loyal customer of Monzo from the beginning (including a business account), but for the first time I’m considering leaving. The outcome of the complaint will determine that I guess.

In the mean time I would encourage anybody else who has experiences this problem not to accept the stock answer that it is the merchant’s fault. And to use Apple Pay wherever possible.

It wasn’t refunded. The hold lapsed.

Monzo do not hold your money for them, they hold it for the merchant. Small but significant difference. The do “check” but this is within the whole banking system. Someone isn’t phoning every merchant to ask about payments, that isn’t logical. The banking system is built to do this and if they merchant had done as they should (I think it’s an 0400 code, or something like that) this would have notified Monzo.

Monzo have done nothing wrong here. You can complain about how they’ve treated you, how you don’t understand banking and they haven’t explained it simply enough or anything else, but the issue has always been the merchant.

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Refunded or hold lapsed is meaningless semantics to somebody who simply needs the cash back to attempt the payment again. Even the transaction dispute in the app refers to it as being “refunded”.

And of course I am not suggesting somebody phone the merchant up. My question is why doesn’t Monzo’s system ping the merchant in, say, an hour to check if the transaction is still valid. Why just passively wait for 7 days?

And until somebody can answer my question as to why this only happens with standard card payments and never with Apple Pay I cannot accept that it is the merchants fault. Perhaps Apple Pay enforces something at the merchant’s end that avoids this problem, but until somebody can actually answer this question, all I can go by is my experience (Monzo card payments will hold my money hostage, Apple Pay won’t).

How. Many. Times.

This does happen, but the merchant needs to say “We don’t want their money” and they didn’t. After 7 days Monzo make this decision for them.