Credit cards and double-swiping

I had written about Credit Card experiences - tips and tricks a few months back.  It is only fair that I write about an incident which indicates what can go wrong as well.

I frequent a Grocery shop in Vignan Nagar called Fair Choice Super Market.  They have all the items I need and usually new stocks.  They take credit cards.  They are close to my home.

Late last month, I made my usual purchase and gave my card to be swiped.  The person at the cash counter did this.  For some reason, the charge slip did not come out from the machine.  I got an SMS alerting that the transaction had happened.

The cashier restarted the machine and generated the charge slip.  He also punched a few keys and generated a report which seemed to indicate the transaction did not go through.  I told him that I had received the SMS, which contradicted him.  He said he will swipe again and in case there is double debit, he will let me know.  He said usually the failed transaction gets automatically reversed and it will not go out of my account.  I got a second SMS confirmation.  He took down my cell number.

Since I have been frequenting this shop for three years, I did not see a problem with this.

A few days later, I saw two debits in my credit card online statement.  I went back to the shop and asked the cashier about this.  He said the amount had not come to their account and hence he did not know about this.  He took down my card and amount details.   He also asked me to check with my Bank.  I enquired with the Bank and they promptly sent me the transaction details based on which they had debited my account twice.  They said I need to request the merchant (that is, the shopkeeper) to request reversal of one of my transaction.

Since I did not hear from Fair Choice, I made another trip a few days later.  He said his Bank had not received any credits corresponding to the amount debited from my card.  I asked him how does he keep track of these. Based on his response, it appeared that he had no clue how the reconciliation happened. This was shocking to me, since I thought a large part of his business involved credit card transactions.

He again took down my details and I took his number as well.

He called me from his Bank the next day and asked me to give details of the response given by the Bank.  He gave me the email-id of the Bank to which I needed to send this.  I promptly sent this.  The Bank acknowledged my email (which I found pleasantly surprising) and said they have taken this up with the Bank to which my card belongs.

In the whole interaction, I was quite disappointed with the posture of the shopkeeper.  He handled the customer interaction poorly.  He should not have swiped the card the second time. If he did, he should have kept tab on this and tracked this to closure.  He should have been more responsive when I visited the shop the next time.  And most importantly, he should know how these work and be aware of it.

From my side, I kick myself for allowing my card to be swiped the second time.  And now when I recall, I signed the charge slip twice as well - I should have torn one of them (if that made any difference).

This is the second time I had a double-swiping.  The first one was at Pizza Hut in CMH Road, INdira Nagar, where we had gone for lunch.  This would also have gone unnoticed, but for the fact that I saw two SMS.  The folks there were smart enough and they admitted that indeed my card was swiped twice by mistake.  They instantly gave a cash refund for one of the transactions as they said the reversal request took time.

The moral of the story is, ensure that SMS is enabled for any credit card transaction.  Check the SMS and ensure that it reflects what it should.

Avoid using cards in places like Fair Choice, where the shop keeper has no clues what happens after the swipe.

I have no idea if I will get a credit for the second-swipe.  I now need to identify an alternate shop for my grocery purchase - not that there is any dearth of grocery shops in my area!

Update: 19 Dec 2012

After three email reminders, the Assistant Bank Manager of the Bank calls me.

"Sir, we do acknowledge the double debit and have the extra money in our suspense account.  The shopkeeper refuses to give an authorisation to credit it.  I have been running behind him for a long time now.

Also, yours is not the only case.  There are about ten other similar cases, due to faulty BSNL land lines in the area."

He asked for an account number to which he will credit the amount for now, and asked me to credit it back once the double debit is settled correctly.  God knows if and when this will happen.  Having read the Life of Pi recently, I guess I now need to have more faith!

Update: 31 Jan 2013

After two more reminders, I get the following email from the Bank.

Dear Sir,
As per the concerned department confirmation, we need the deceleration form Fair choice in this regard to process the refund. Requesting you to kindly arrange the same.

I also see a new Manager name in the email.

Needless to say, I am pissed off and ask the Bank to send me the "deceleration form" template as well as a confirmation that they acknowledge the double debit since I don't see how else can I convince the shopkeeper.

Update: 9 Feb 2013

I get an email from the Bank asking for my credit card details.  Are we now back to square one?  I faithfully send the information again.

Update: 27 Feb 2013

I see that one of the duplicate transaction has been reversed.   All is well that ends well.


  1. I too had the same experience in More retail store, Aecs layout. I immediately complained to them but that guy said that it will take another 48 hours to cancel the first transaction.. again next day I showed them my bank statement and 2 SMS (Money deducted twice)...then only those guys agreed to return the amount.

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  3. Even I'm currently going through this situation, and the amount is quite high 25k premium amount. Its more than a month now after repeated follow-ups,they assured that they will reverse the amount.

    After reading your post I felt little relief that there are probability of CC reversal for duplicate transaction.

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