If you routinely use a Shell gas station to fuel your vehicle, there’s a good chance your most recent bank or credit card statement caused your heart to race. This is because of a computer error, courtesy of a nationwide network outage, that resulted in double charges for close to 400,000 Shell customers – and it wasn’t limited to only those who use a Shell card.
The US headquarters in Houston, Texas has quickly come to realize the problem is much bigger than they initially believed. Now, the clock’s ticking on how fast – and how well – the company handles the problem.
Coordination and Processing Efforts
The Shell Corporation uses a network system that’s ranked as one of the best for both accuracy and safety; it ensures all the proverbial bases are covered and it takes pride in the way it’s able to coordinate and process various payments for the 25,000+ Shell gas stations in the U.S. Usually, their efforts result in a seamless transition for its customers.
That was until the last week in January, when this network glitch double charged not only Shell card users, but any customer who might have used any other credit or debit card. For some consumers who used their debit cards associated with their bank accounts, they may now face NSF charges from their banks, not to mention a few unpleasant phone calls they now are likely making.
What makes this so interesting is the way Shell has chosen to handle the brouhaha; in fact, it’s more like the way Shell has chosen to downplay the brouhaha. It wasn’t until a blogger uncovered a confidential memo from the oil giant’s credit card vendor that revealed the size and number of consumers affected. Shell was working quietly behind the scenes in an effort to right the wrong, which is what customers expect; it’s the lack of owning up to it that’s causing some folks to see red.
Debit or Credit?
This raises the question, once again, about what’s better: the debit or credit behaviors associated with your credit card. Those consumers who routinely use their bank cards as credit cards and who were affected by the Shell glitch likely were a bit frustrated, though certain that the most, if anything, they would be liable for is $50.
Those who opted to have the money deducted from their bank accounts using their debit card are the ones who are most likely losing sleep these days. After all, few things are as frustrating as having your monthly bank statement not match that bottom line in your checkbook. And of course, there are those pesky overdraft fees the bank computers tacked on.
Of course, this will all be cleared up and Shell will make good on its error, even if it was attempting to do so without much press. In the meantime, consumers are left picking up the pieces. Those folks who used their Shell card during this last week in January have likely already had the double charges deleted from their Shell accounts; however, when you’re dealing with 400,000 transactions from banks and credit card companies around the country, it can very quickly turn into an overwhelming and time consuming venture.
For now, the first best thing any consumer can do who might have been affected is to check your credit card or bank statement. If you were double charged, contact your card company.
Now that this story has hit the media, there’s a good chance you’ll be met with a sympathetic customer service representative who says, “Oh, yes… we heard about that” and will at least be willing to credit your account until Shell’s representatives are able to work through the intricacies. If you were one who used your debit card and the double charges resulted in overdraft fees, again, the important thing to do is call your bank.
The sooner you’re on the same page with your bank, the less burdensome it will be. Don’t forget to notify Shell; they already know, of course, but you want to be sure you memorialize it, if for no other reason than your own peace of mind.