Money Grouse: Request for split payment ignored

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The Independent Online
SHOPPING by telephone and paying by credit or debit card is convenient, but has its price if something goes wrong.

Anne McQuade tried to pay for her holiday for two over the phone by splitting the cost between her Nationwide Flex debit card and her friend's credit card. But the whole amount was charged to her card. She realised that a mistake had been made when the building society started to bounce her cheques - six in all - charging her pounds 20 each time, a total of pounds 120.

When she booked the holiday with Olau Line (UK) in Sheerness, Kent, she said, a booking agent told her that he could not book the holiday until he had confirmed the hotel vacancies. He took her debit card number but assured her that no payments would be made until he had spoken to her again.

The following day, two paid-for tickets arrived at her house. She telephoned to ask whether it was too late to put half the amount on to her friend's credit card, as originally requested, and was assured that this would be possible. She gave her friend's credit card number, but nothing was charged to it.

She wrote to Olau Line (UK), which replied: 'Of course it is possible to split a charge, but we require direct confirmation from the cardholder to do this, not via a third party.'

When challenged, however, an Olau spokesman admitted that it might accept an instruction from a third party to debit someone else's account.

Fortunately, Nationwide has now agreed to waive the charges deducted from Ms McQuade's account on the grounds that it ought to have have noticed that something had gone awry.

A Nationwide spokesman said: 'Everyone should be extra careful when giving out their card number over the phone.'

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