We've Seen High Gas Prices But This Is Absurd

Many Exxon customers are being charged a $175 hold on top of already high gas prices.

“All of a sudden I get another alert and it says Exxon and it says $175,” Debra Longstreet said. “I stopped what I was doing and my husband said ‘where are you going?’ I said ‘obviously, my card was used in one of those readers.’”

After purchasing $70 worth of gas with her debit card, Longstreet decided to drive back to the Exxon station on Oak Harbor Boulevard in Eden Isles to try and figure out if her card was skimmed at the pump -- until she opened her banking app.

“She was just as shocked as I was,” Longstreet said. “She said ‘no, your card wasn’t scammed, but this is going to happen every time you use your card at the Exxon station.’”

Longstreet says the representative told her she had not been the first caller and it would take several business days to access the money again.

When she took to social media, she found she wasn’t the only one seeing a pending $175 charge.

“Now I’m out $350 and nobody knows where it’s at,” Thomas Rieder said.

Rieder, a Capital One debit customer, purchasing the same amount of gas as Longstreet, used his card twice at the Exxon on Loyola Drive in Kenner because one pump wasn’t working. So, now he has double the hold.

“It matters but it doesn’t hurt me... where it would hurt somebody who does not enough money in the bank to do it,” Rieder said.

Rieder’s son-in-law also was also hit with a hold from the same Exxon and he canceled his card because he thought he had been scammed. Now, he’s stuck waiting for a new debit card to come in the mail.

Financial expert James Spiro had this to say about the situation.

“The holds that we’re talking about are initiated by the gas station, but they’re driven, no pun intended, they’re driven by the lending institutions,” Spiro said.

These three people used their debit cards at the pump and bypassed entering their pins, which processed the purchase as a credit transaction. But, as Spiro explains, it’s less certain for the bank than if you use a credit card with a set limit.

“The lending institution wants to make sure that it doesn’t get caught on the hook,“ Spiro said. “It really doesn’t know how much you’re trying to spend. It knows that you’ve gone beyond the normal pin system, so, there’s a question mark in the lending institution’s mind.”

While legal, the practice is putting a lot of people in a precarious financial situation.

“That’s just not right for the consumer,” Longstreet said. “There were no signs anywhere notifying you of this.”

“People are going in blind,” Rieder said. “They have no idea this is going to happen and it needs to be stopped.”

Exxon tells me that their debit holds are usually cleared within two hours and that this credit hold stems from the bank.

Spiro says there are 15 states this is happening in and only one has a requirement to notify the consumer.

He theorized that the high amount of holds is due to surging gas prices and the banks wanting to give themselves an extra cushion.

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