Shell Energy Services Company

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Shell denies responsibility for hold on debit cards
Posted by on
HOUSTON, TEXAS -- This sticker was found on the gas pumps at a Shell station stopped at recently. I took issue with Shell denying any responsibility for a $75 hold placed on your account. Stating the BANK is responsible for the hold, not Shell. These kinds of actions/deceptions by corporate America are commonplace today. People need to take exception to these practices and complain LOUDLY to these corporations. I sent the following email to Shell:
Date: 5/6/2010 7:57 AM
Subject: Debit card funds hold notice sticker on the pump

While fueling at the station at 1099 S. Willow St. Cookeville, TN on May 5, 2010 I noticed a new sticker on the pump warning customers that a hold will be placed on the account which may exceed the actual purchase. It further states this is something the financial institution is responsible for and that Shell is not responsible for this hold or its release.

Let me state here I despise being lied to. It ABSOLUTELY is Shell that is responsible for a $75 hold being placed on the account. I am sure you are aware (but just don't care) what this can do to a customer's finances when they need $20 worth of gas and only have $50 in their account. Between the greed of the oil companies and greed of the banks the poor guy living paycheck to paycheck hasn't got a chance.

What is even worse you don't state the hold will be $75. Oh well, let the unsuspecting customer use your pump and take their chances. In addition to the greed displayed in your gas prices do you also get a kick-back from the banks when you create unwarranted (but legal) overdraft problems for your customers? That is a rhetorical question.

Despicable. Shell used to be my preferred stations. Those days are over.

Date: 5/6/2010 8:33 AM
Subject: SHELL Apology

Dear xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx,

We appreciate your patience while we completed a comprehensive review of your recent experience at a Shell branded station. Please accept our apology for any inconvenience you experienced.

We determined the situation you described is a standard practice by financial institutions when debit or credit cards are used to make purchases and pre-authorization is required. This is a common occurrence when checking into a hotel or, in this case, when purchasing fuel.

The "hold" placed on the account is temporary. The number of days that the "hold" is on the account is determined by the policies of the financial institution that issued the bankcard. Unless you are making more than one purchase during the "hold" period, only one "hold" is placed on your account.

Shell accepts bankcards for the convenience of its customers. However, the customer is actually billed by the financial institution or bankcard center. Our review of your complaint did not reveal any manner that we could provide assistance. You may wish to contact your bank.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We value your patronage and hope you will continue to choose Shell's quality products.


Shell Solutions Center
Customer Care
1(888) 467-4355

Date: 5/8/2010 8:15 AM
Subject: Debit card funds hold notice sticker on the pump

"...we completed a comprehensive review of your recent experience..." - It appears I have been lied to AGAIN.

It is obvious by your response you paid little attention to the REAL issues I was bringing to light.

1. You did not acknowledge that you (Shell) places a hold on the
account without warning the customer it will be a $75 hold. Effectively
concealing that piece of information.

2. "Shell accepts bankcards for the convenience of its customers."
- come on - get real. You do it because much business would be lost if
you did not.

3. Then you insinuate that I did not know how the financial institution
handles these transactions. Let me reciprocate: The financial
institution does not "bill" a customer for debit card transactions. It
is simply a deduction from existing funds. I would think you knew that.

4. "Our review of your complaint did not reveal any manner that we could
provide assistance." - I guess I should not have assumed it would be
obvious. Let me state it plainly: Replace those stickers on the pump
with one that clearly states Shell will place a $75 hold on the
customers account and this could result in overdraft fees by the bank if
you do not have at least $75 in the account.

5. "We value your patronage and hope you will continue to choose Shell's
quality products." - one more indication your reading comprehension
skills may be somewhat limited. Did you miss my last line?: "Shell used
to be my preferred stations. Those days are over."

In all fairness, however, your response is typical of what can be
expected from corporate America. To actually acknowledge problems is
probably prohibited by your legal staff.

No response was received.

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User Replies:
Weedwhacked on 05/13/2010:
It's the financial institution, not Shell. You're making assumptions just because you're upset at this policy.
tnchuck100 on 05/13/2010:
Weedwhacked, It IS Shell that places the hold. All the bank does is administer the hold as requested by Shell (or any vendor). Many stations place a $1 hold. Some place none. It IS Shell placing the $75 hold. As a matter of fact Exxon does this as well. But at least Exxon is up-front about it.
Anonymous on 05/13/2010:
I went through the same issue with Shell and my bank. Simple solution, which Shell won't tell, but the bank was more than happy to tell me...swipe your card inside the store as a Point of Sale, instead of outside as a credit. They only put the hold on outside swipes, since they are sometimes made after hours, for those stores that actually close at night. Swiped inside, and there is no fee/hold whatsoever. Hope this helps!
Anonymous on 05/13/2010:
In addition, it's actually not a hold from a certain point of view, it's more of a credit. All you need is a positive balance of more than $1 on your card, and nearly EVERY outside card reader in America will give you a $75 limit on fuel. It posts a day or two later, and is registered as a negative balance on your account. NOT an overdraft, but just a negative. I have never been charged an overdraft for this. Take your card inside the store and it will only allow you to fuel the $1 that is on your balance, but swiped outside and it'll give you up to $75. That seems to be the norm across the country. Some stations are set to $40. Just depends. I'm not saying to take advantage of that, but in a tight pickle that finds you out of gas until payday, and all you have on your debit is $2, then swipe outside and you're good to go!
tnchuck100 on 05/13/2010:
Justice-4-All, that is useful information. It should help many.

The ENTIRE issue here is Shell requesting the financial institution place a $75 hold on an account any not being completely honest with the customer. They deny responsibility and do not warn it will be $75.

Personally it will never cost me anything. But they guy living paycheck to paycheck is who gets seriously impacted by this crap.
tnchuck100 on 05/13/2010:
Justice-4-All, some banks will not overdraft on a pending transaction but many do. Just read the complaints here about that very issue.

The topic here is not credit vs debit. It is strictly a debit hold not being fully disclosed and Shell's denial that they are responsible for causing the hold to be placed.
Anonymous on 05/13/2010:
First of all Chuck kudos to you for taking the time to write to shell and then for calling them on their BS. More people need to do that.

I don't know the ins and outs of merchant agreements but I do know that when I get gas at OnCue with my debit card all I ever see show up online at my bank is the exact charge for the fuel. I've never once saw a hold of any sort.

Anonymous on 05/13/2010:
True tnchuck100 on the overdraft fees, but for any overdraft I've ever been charged, for some reason, this is not considered an overdraft, since the Shell company is allowing the transaction and basically fronting you the money. Sort of the same argument we all had last week about it not being "illegal" for your bank to front you money and cover transactions that were otherwise considered "insufficient funds". But getting to the main point of denial. It is in fact Shell that is responsible. My bank said that they have had NUMEROUS complaints from customers, and they have to explain over and over that it is done at Shell's request. Deceptive to say the least. But at least I was able to find a way around it, and that was to swipe the card inside at the register. Something to do with the way the outside machines processes it I suppose.
Mrs. V on 05/13/2010:
I wonder if they still charge that fee if you use your debt card as a credit card?
Anonymous on 05/13/2010:
1. Swipe your debit/credit card at the outside reader on a pump and it will put a hold of $75-$100 on your account, depending on the gas station.

2. But, that in essence is also giving you the opportunity to use up to that much as well. So, as long as you have a positive balance over $1 on your card, you are allowed up to $75-$100. It will not be charged as an overdraft. I promise. I've done it before.

3. Swipe inside, and you can only fill what is actually available on your card.

Mrs. V on 05/13/2010:
Thanks ^_^
Anonymous on 05/13/2010:
You're welcome. But back to the main point, Shell should be more open about what it is doing and accept responsibility for it.
Ytropious on 05/13/2010:
Odd, of the times I stop at shell my hold is only 1 dollar. I've never actually been to a gas station that held more than 1 dollar.
Venice09 on 05/13/2010:
Chuck, great review. Good info all around. I hope a lot of people out there read this.
jktshff1 on 05/13/2010:
VH 2nd V09...great review TN
madconsumer on 05/13/2010:
shell is not responsible. the bank is.
GenuineNerd on 05/13/2010:
I often wonder if it's the bank, the oil company, or the proprietor/owner/manager of the gas station that is responsible for the hold. When I use my Visa check card at a gas pump, a $1 hold is put on my account...this is via transactions from Speedway, Get Go, and Circle K...never used my debit card at Shell before, although I am boycotting Shell due to my Citi Shell Mastercard account being closed without warning last fall.
tnchuck100 on 05/13/2010:
The bank is NOT responsible for the hold. The bank has absolutely no way to know how much a hold is for. The bank does not use an arbitrary amount. The amount MUST be requested by the merchant.

The only thing the bank controls is the amount of time the hold is allowed to remain before being dropped when no matching request for funds has occurred.

A station proprietor may well be responsible for the hold. However, Shell has their sign on the station. The proprietor represents Shell in this situation.

The bottom line is this sticker on the pump is insufficient and does not tell the customer what he really needs to know.
goduke on 05/13/2010:
Great job of holding shell to a standard of accountability, Chuck. I really find it odd that they won't admit that they actually auth the card. Then again, I could see BOA seeing a swipe at a gas station, and the auth of $1 coming through and saying "oh, let's hold $150 just to have some fun."
Mrs. V on 05/13/2010:
I checked with my credit union and they stated that they only place holds in whatever the merchant requests. That they don't have anything to do with amounts or with releasing the hold unless the hold is more than 3 business days (I think each union/bank has its own hold times) without the merchant 'confirming' it.
Obsfucation on 05/13/2010:
The amount of the hold is not always $75, this seems to be a regional issue. Around here I have nevere seen a hold that was not the $1 hold.
By placing a hold which does not reflect an actual purchase, it insures that the hold will remain on the account for the maximum time, since no actual transaction amount will ever be presented to match it and cause it to drop.
Shell is not fronting any money; by securing a pre-auth on the account, they are guaranteed payment whether or not the funds are in the account when the debit is presented.
This process is entirely self-serving by Shell. Rather than take the chance that there may not be funds AFTER the gas is pumped, they'd rather cause havoc in accounts that run a low balance.
Anonymous on 05/13/2010:
Chuck, I don't know what to say other than GREAT review! The bank wouldn't place any hold at all of the business didn't request one. So, there you have it. They lied! I don't appreciate the response you received from Shell. They lied AGAIN! For that reason, I will drive right past Shell when I need to refuel.
yoke on 06/02/2010:
How did you find out it was a $75 hold? I have gone to Shell for years and it is always $1 and it drops off the next business day. I do give Shell credit for posting that a hold will be placed on your account. Not to many merchants tell you that.
tnchuck100 on 06/02/2010:
yoke: Online banking.
yoke on 06/02/2010:
It must be a regional thing since mine is $1. I wish more merchants would tell customers they are putting holds on their accounts, that way the consumer can decide if they want to shop there or go onto a merchant that does not put holds on your account. Most of the time you do not know until it is to late. $75 is absurd.
DianeBaby on 06/17/2010:
Sounds like it'd be easier to get money from the ATM for my gas than have to even worry about "the hold factor". Such FANTASTIC information on this email string. Good to know about going inside and swiping as well. Thank you all, VERY enlightening :)
Jim on 06/12/2012:
Fuel pre-authorizations are a requirement of card issuing banks, not fuel stations. If a location accepts the terms of taking debit and credit card payments (and who can afford not to) the pre-auth is required. I find it comical that the gas station is an evil corporation and you friendly local bank is your ally.
WrongWay on 10/15/2012:
It is correct that Banks are required to provide pre authorization on debit cards, BUT the FACT of the matter is that THE MERCHANT determines the PER-AUTHORIZATION amount. The bank determines the hold time.

Whether it be $1 or $125 THE MERCHANT (SHELL,TEXACO,BP,ETC) decides how much to pre authorize an account for. For someone who may be using an account that often has less than the merchants decided amount than one may not have access to any of the funds until that hold is released by the bank OR until THE MERCHANT "authorizes" that the amount of gas pumped or that even nothing was taken off.

I've had this happen and had my $75 worth of funds wiped out for a few hours and I didn't even end up purchasing any gasoline. I canceled the transaction after running the card as debit and left the station. The pre-authorization was placed on my account and I had purchased NOTHING.
Susie Sew and Sow on 12/29/2012:
Just used my debit card outside at the Shell in Piedmont, CA and I accidentally hit debit instead of credit -- and they are now holding $95! Inflation, I guess... Usually I hit the credit button and they only hold $1 until the actual cost of the gas goes through the bank about 2-3 days later. I'll never make that mistake again!
rio11 on 01/25/2013:
I just experienced exactly this sort of corporate rape. This caused a domino effect in my financial situation that I am struggling to deal with and get nothing but a run-around with the bank and the oil company. Meanwhile they care not about me and the fact that I had no money to buy food this week. No this is a perfect example of a way to rob you of YOUR money while they keep it tied up for days and days. "They" -- however it is- kept a hold on MY money for nearly 14 days. We as consumers have got to stand up to this and demand that this is stopped.
pumpkinqt on 02/03/2013:
My 3 cents: My debit purchase of $44.83 worth of gasoline earlier this afternoon has already cleared my bank. So why is there a $90 hold?? It's cleared, obviously they had the money when I swiped my card, why is a hold needed? I have done this many times and don't ever recall seeing a hold, let alone $90!!
Valoree on 04/22/2013:
I'm glad to know I'm not the only one getting bounced around. The Shell station I normally use (have gone to for years) recently was the cause of being overdrafted (twice). They place $90.00 holds when I buy gas. I was trying to figure out a way around it. I called my bank, a local credit union. They tell me they have NOTHING to do with the holds. She said it's usually the service station manager that determines wether a hold will be placed for buying gas or not. So I spoke to the location and was told to run as debit, not credit and that would fix it. NOPE, still got $90 hold. So I talked to manager of store, who said that it's illegal for him to even place a hold, and that it is my bank that determines that. Which makes no sense to me. Why would my bank put $1.00 hold for Maverik stores, and $90.00 for Shell. My husband works for a major credit card company and told me it has nothing to do with the bank, that he gets calls all the time from customers regarding holds, and that they can't do anything about it. It's very frustrating. It's the most conveniently located station for me, but I guess I just won't be going there anymore. I was even told that I can't go in and swipe card, I have to use the pump, there's no way around it. So, guess I"ll be driving out of my way to Maverik. I just wish I could get an answer out of somebody.
very upset on 12/03/2013:
Shell just put a hold on our checking account for $90.00 for 5 days! I called the station, they referred me to their office. The office said it was Shell Processing, the people who process the debit/credit cards for them. She said she has had many complaints but she couldn't give me a phone number to call Shell Processing. My bank does not place a hold on my account unless they receive it from a business. We spent $25.73 on gas and they took the money from my account on the same day! Why does Shell have the right to place a hold on my account for any amount let alone $90.00? Especially without my knowledge! We will be boycotting Shell stations and any others that have this policy.
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StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star
Dreadful Customer Service
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
LAKE OSWEGO, OREGON -- Young male attendant snarled that I'd driven to the wrong side of the pumps. How was I to know they fill from one side only? I've never stopped there before. He could have asked politely. He mumbled when he spoke and didn't seem too happy to take my retailer Rewards card. He also fumbled around, trying to get the gas cap back on and couldn't be bothered to say "Thank you". Really poor attitude. If he were my employee, I would have fired him the day before yesterday. NOTE: this is the station at 608 N. State Street.
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trmn8r on 10/07/2012:
For some reason, Oregon and NJ are the only two states where self-serve gas stations are illegal, and that doesn't appear likely to change anytime soon.

Don't know about Oregon, but in NJ unless you go to a Hess station you are likely to be dealing with someone who immigrated to this country and speaks sketchy English. It isn't exactly a highly paying job or one that requires skill or training.

There are a few options - you could drive across the border into Washington or lobby the government to allow serve serve.
Anonymous on 10/07/2012:
"How was I to know they fill from one side only? I've never stopped there before"?

The gas stations here that are capable of fueling on either side (which are very few), all have a large sign in front of the pumps. The stations that don't have that capability have no signs. And none of the Shell stations here have that capability.
copper_works_ on 10/07/2012:
Gas pumps that fill from one side only? Really? I wouldn't of known that either.
I have driven through Oregon before and was surprised there was no self-serve. Humm, I better pay attention next time.
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Cleaner gas but..for the rest of the Shell's restrooms
Posted by on
STATE OF CALIFORNIA, CALIFORNIA -- It's ridiculous for Shells to claim its gasoline is cleaned, but what about its restrooms?
I suppose if the Shell's gasoline is cleaned, its restrooms are cleaned too, right? Wrong! Those Shell's restrooms are so nasty, many of its restrooms are very dirty, those you can't even describe. Does it make sense if the Shell's fuel is cleaned?
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Alain on 01/16/2011:
Contact Shell directly about this at 888-467-4355 or send them an e-mail via
GenuineNerd on 01/16/2011:
Restrooms depend on the owner or operator of the gas station when it comes to cleanliness. I have seen gas station restrooms that were sparkling and spotless, while I have seen others that I would not let a dog lift its hind leg at. Years ago, oil companies used to take pride in the restrooms at their service stations...Texaco once had a nationwide "Registered Rest Room" program, in which restrooms at Texaco stations were inspected by a traveling crew. When the energy crisis hit in the 1970's, and many traditional service stations either closed or were converted (or replaced) by food marts, restroom inspections by oil companies fell by the wayside. Since most modern gas station food marts/convenience stores are also food service operations or restaurants, restroom cleanliness is required, especially if food is being prepared or handled on the premises. Again, in this case, it is pretty much the responsibility of the owner or manager of this Shell location, rather than Shell Oil itself, to maintain the restroom. Most oil companies today no longer operate retail gasoline stations; they just license the brand to franchisees or independent operators.
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Rude Manager/Needs to Be Fired
Posted by on
I was at the Shell Gas Station at 1625 Marketplace, Caledonia, Michigan when a rude manager yelled at me and reprimanded me for no reason. The clerk was new and she tried to charge me for someone else's gas. I had to wait a few minutes for them to fix it while she got her nasty manager, Chelsea. This Chelsea woman puts her hand out and yells, "Give me the ten, come on!" It wasn't even ten it was $8. When I tried to explain this to the ugly googled eyed woman, she said, "you need to be patient! There are other customers!" It shocked me because I was being patient, I sat there quiet as a mouse while they kept screwing up. I reported the idiot, but the company still has her on the payroll. There are so many nice people who need a job, yet this idiot gets to keep hers. Life isn't fair.
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Anonymous on 11/07/2010:
No, life isn't fair. If life were fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead.
Anonymous on 11/07/2010:
Id be sure to never patron that gas station again.
Ytropious on 11/07/2010:
Why should she be fired? I guess when you have a bad day at work you never let it show? I don't think anyone deserves to be fired from their job because a customer says so.
Venice09 on 11/07/2010:
Your choice of words causes the review to loose credibility and makes me want to hear the other side of the story.
ok4now on 11/07/2010:
"Ugly googled eyed woman" is reprehensible and has no objective meaning to your inconsiderate post about this "idiot." Stick with the facts about your complaint. I'm sure if the employee responded with criticism about parts of your anatomy you would not be pleased. You do raise some subjective points about being charged for someone else's gas. Contact a Shell management supervisor for a resolution to your complaint and skip the name calling.
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