Debit and credit card holders who’ve been left out of pocket by the Visa outage which affected payments across Europe on Friday are being told to claim from their banks – if you’re affected here’s what you need to know.
On Friday a hardware failure meant Visa struggled to process payments between roughly 2.30pm and 10pm, meaning many businesses were unable to take card payments.
In some cases cardholders have found multiple transactions were processed when they tried to make one payment, meaning £100s have been ring-fenced on their card for pending transactions which is affecting how they use their card. Others have lost out in other ways, for instance by having to use a card with a worse exchange rate while abroad.
Visa says the outage was not due to a hack but resulted from a problem with its back-end processing system, and it is working with banks to try and cancel pending transactions more quickly.
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What went wrong?
On Friday Visa had a major system failure which caused intermittent problems processing transactions across the UK and the rest of Europe.
The problem was not with Visa cards themselves, but with its back-end payment processing system. In a nutshell a business takes a customer’s payment, and Visa then liaises between the business’ bank and the customer’s bank to enable the payment to be taken – but Friday’s crash stopped this happening.
Given Visa’s website says its system is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second, you can see why this failure caused such problems.
I’ve been left out of pocket – what should I do?
We’ve seen reports of some being left out of pocket as a result of the system crash.
For example, Natalie told us her payment went through on the seventh attempt, but she’s been left with the prior six pending on her account leaving her with no money.
Ian emailed to say he had a deposit of £500 taken twice, after the initial payment was declined. And here’s some of the tweets we’ve seen:
@MartinSLewis @MoneySavingExp just checked my bank after the weekend & ive had a lot of duplicate spending my card is with @Lloyds #visa and they are trying to sort the issue so please everyone check your bank statements after last weekend
Gemma Davies (@GemmaDa73255539) June 4, 2018
My card was declined on contactless payment at the chippy (fish supper on #nationalfishandchipday of course!) so I put it through on chip and pin. Checked my online banking and the declined payment was charged so people need to check they arent being double charged #visa
Ian Little (@ianjlittle) June 1, 2018
Hello. Will customers be compensated. Im having to use a credit card which will incur changes. I know its not down to you but any advice would help. Thanks
olly (@MomilnerOlly) June 1, 2018
If you tried to make a transaction on Friday and you were told it didn’t go through, but it’s now appeared on your account, it’s likely to be because it was ringfenced as a ‘pending transaction’. That means the money hasn’t actually left your account – but you can’t use the money either until it’s been sorted out.
Visa says you should contact your bank if you want to query a transaction, and it’s working with the banks to try and speed up the process of removing pending transactions. Many banks are responding to customers on Twitter saying that while declined pending transactions will be removed from a customer’s account, this could take up to five days.
If you don’t just want to get a pending transaction removed from your account but want to claim compensation – either for the inconvenience or because you’ve incurred costs as a result of the outage – again Visa says you should contact your bank. We’ve asked the banks about this but have yet to hear back, so it’s not yet clear if they will be accepting compensation claims or try and direct you elsewhere – we’ll update this story as soon as we know more.
In the meantime collect as much as evidence as you can, including details of any extra fees incurred and any extra phone charges – it will help to have this when you submit your claim.
‘Customers still struggling to get a straight answer’
Guy Anker, deputy editor of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “While the Visa outage took everyone by surprise, three days later people are still struggling to get a straight answer on how their issues will be rectified – and it’s not fair that they are left in limbo.
“In some cases we’re talking hundreds of pounds ring-fenced in accounts, and others face extra expenses for non-specialist travel cards while abroad. Consumers need a clear answer of where they need to go to clean up the mess that they played no part in causing.”
What does Visa say?
A Visa spokesperson said: “The technical issue we experienced has been resolved. Our network is working normally. If you attempted a Visa transaction that did not complete as a result of this issue, you should not be charged.
“A small number of cardholders may have pending transactions that could be limiting their spending ability. We are working with your banks to resolve this.”