Plastic Money

As more and more establishments accept plastic money, we increasingly turn to the comfort and convenience it offers not to mention some time leeway before we actually make the payment (in case of credit or charge cards). The process usually consists of the card being swiped at the cash counter, signing on a tiny slip (printed with fading ink in microscopic font- particularly for baby boomer eyes!!) and walking out with the desired goods!
Simple aint it??

Yes provided the machine that does the swiping is in good working condition.
Have you at any times been met with an ‘error’ message on the machine? Probably… Usually the cashier re-swipes the card or you may proffer another one from the plastic collection in the wallet! The machine spits out the piece of paper and you are done. Voila!

However it may happen that the machine and related IT connections have actually deducted the sum from your account, but you do not know that. Repeated swiping will still give the ‘error’ message and the money will continue to be deducted. Of course this is only an occasional issue and does not happen in all instances of ‘error’ messages of the swiping machine.

In the above case, the bank account will show multiple deductions to the same vendor…
This can be an extremely painful situation. What is to be done???
  • The first thing is if possible go back to the shop and inform the manager and get him to inform his bank about this failed transaction/swipe.
  • Then contact your own branch with details of the transaction.
  • If the shop/vendor informs his bank and does not claim the money then it will be credited back to your account in a fixed time (for different banks this differs e.g 11 working days etc). Till then the funds remain in suspense account. Of course, immediate action on your part is vital.

In the interim you may worry yourself sick but till that mandatory period is over your funds will not be returned. All cards have some policy about this so it is important to take some time to understand it. Check out the relevant page on the website of your debit/credit/ charge card or better still speak to their customer care.

Another thing you can do is to activate SMS alerts for debit/credit/charge card debits on your account. This way you will immediately know once some funds are debited once your card is swiped even if the machine shows an error. This can save you a lot of hassle and headache. Not to mention loss of interest on your money.

Here is the link to a query in the Economic Times about a failed online card-transaction. The expert’s replies are given there. (

As they say in the military, its better to sweat in peace than bleed in war.
As you take time to understand interest rules on your plastic money, or actions if it gets lost, also understand what to do and what is the normal bank procedure in case of a failed card transaction.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *