Surely sleep-driving is not the explanation...
August 31, 2012 1:32 PM   Subscribe

Weird credit card charge..can you help?

This is a somewhat odd occurrence and I’m looking for ideas on how it could have happened. I checked my online account for one of my credit cards this morning and noticed a pending charge at a fast food restaurant, dated yesterday. I recognized the resaurant number as the one a few miles from my house and I eat there a few times a month (usually using this card), but I did not eat there yesterday or anytime in the past week. I have an authorized user on my account, but I have both his card and my card in my possession. This was the only unknown charge. I contacted my credit card company and they said they could not do anything until it actually posted to my account, which would happen in 1-3 days. I will of course call back then, but in the meantime I’m wondering if anyone has an idea on how this could happen. I checked my account and have no transactions in the previous month at this place that match this amount (so it doesn’t seem as if they accidentally ran a charge twice). I currently live alone (just broke up with my live-in boyfriend a few days ago) and I am terrified that I may have done this in my sleep because I can’t think of any other explanation. I have a history of talking and walking in my sleep since I went off anti-depressants (Wellbutrin and Lexapro) about a year ago, but never sleeping or eating. I’ve never taken Ambien or any sleep aids so I’m pretty sure this isn’t what happened. Ideas?
posted by sunshine37 to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
Call the restaurant and tell them about the issue. See if they can produce a receipt with a time and date.
posted by cnc at 1:34 PM on August 31, 2012

I don't have an answer for your situation but maybe you can search here for a better explanation?
posted by eatcake at 1:42 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

If they have had problems with their credit card machine, they may not have sent the charges the day you ordered. Do you remember the last time you went, has that charge gone through? It's a long shot and doesn't happen anywhere near as often now a days as it used.
posted by wwax at 1:52 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'm not saying this is likely, but if you suspect any impropriety, an authorized user may have requested a replacement card, without having brought that to your attention and without the bank having to change the numbers on all the cards linked to the account, thereby involving a service interruption.
posted by phaedon at 1:59 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would call the restaurant at a time when you know they're not busy, and be very polite and just explain that you didn't think you had been there at that time, and needed an explanation. Don't be accusatory or anything, just call them up looking for clarification. By law they have to keep credit card receipts for a certain amount of time, and they should be able to find it for you.
posted by katypickle at 2:00 PM on August 31, 2012

It has happened to me that my husband will ask about a particular charge on X date, and I will remember that I was there, and it was my charge, but not on X but rather 2-3 days before that. So it does seem to happen that your card isn't charged the same day you make a purchase at a store, sometimes. It makes sense to me to double check this with the store since you don't remember it.
posted by molasses at 2:53 PM on August 31, 2012

I manage credit card terminals as part of my job.

If your card had gotten jacked, odds are you'd have wild and crazy charges, and not likely to be a few miles from your house.

Restaurants do fail to run charges, sometimes for a very long time. That's bad business, but it does happen. Occam's razor in this case is that you did eat there (probably awake) and it just got delayed. Unless it recurrs I wouldn't worry about it.
posted by randomkeystrike at 3:04 PM on August 31, 2012

The restaurant can take a very long time to post charges to your card. I just had a grocery charge (for shopping I did order) turn up 9 weeks after the fact.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:37 PM on August 31, 2012

I'd very much guess that the restaurant made a mistake and there was a significant delay in charging your card. Perhaps the terminal was down and they had to run the charge through manually and simply forgot about it for a while. Or they discovered a batch of missing charges when reconciling the books and corrected the error a month or two later. If you save receipts or know exactly when you were there, you could try to find a missing charge that was explained by this one. You could also ask the restaurant to find the receipt for you if you're still concerned (you can also request a receipt copy through your credit card company, but this will take a lot longer and may involve a fee).

It is, of course, possible that the restaurant is collecting card info from its customers and running fake charges, but I would say that is pretty unlikely compared to the simple explanation.
posted by zachlipton at 4:21 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

34% of my secretarial job consists of calling restaurants for my bosses and asking them to send me copies of receipts. Nine times out of ten, the only information I have to go on is "I have a charge that was posted to his card on such and such a date for such and such a dollar amount; here is his credit card number. Can you send me the receipt?" Sometimes the date of the actual meal is a little different. But so long as they can produce a receipt that matches the dollar amount, we're all good.

And if it doesn't, restaurants generally like working with you to fix things (I recently had to work with a restaurant who totally goofed and overcharged one of my bosses by $80; they are sending him a check for the difference).

Call the restaurant to ask if they have a copy of the receipt because you're a little confused. If they can produce a receipt, then you're good (and you'll see an explanation for the date difference). If they can't find it, then you can work with them to figure out what the heck happened. Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:41 PM on August 31, 2012

About three times a year I'll get a batch of charges that will not process or settle, usually due to an invalid or transposed authorization code on an individual charge. This requires the processor manually deleting the offending transaction, and it can take up to five business days if it's a big batch (1200 transactions or so.) I imagine a fast food restaurant would probably generate a similar quantity of charges in a twenty-four hour period.

When it happens, I expect 20-25 calls about challenging the charges due to the processing date.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 5:56 AM on September 1, 2012

I've had charges go through some time after the actual day I spent the money, as others are commenting. But what I also often see is the date magically resets itself to the correct one when it finally processes fully. So even though yours is showing a recent date now, this might update once it's gone through allowing you to then figure out what really happened.
posted by shelleycat at 6:33 AM on September 1, 2012

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