Hold It!

Sunoco scrubs policy of $100 debit hold for gas purchases

PHILADELPHIA -- Sunoco Inc. has abruptly abandoned a controversial policy to freeze $100 in consumers' personal bank accounts each time they used a debit card to pay for gasoline, no matter how much fuel was actually purchased, reported the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Sunoco, which has 4,500 retail outlets throughout the eastern United States, began placing the $100 hold on accounts earlier this week to ensure people had enough funds in the bank to pay for gasoline purchases, WTAE-TV reported last Thursday.

Such holds freeze money [image-nocss] in a bank account until the charges are reconciled, a process that could take several days, said the report.

WTAE reporter Meghan Jones said after she began calling Sunoco to inquire about the policy, the company suddenly reversed itself and resumed its former policy of placing only a $1 hold on bank accounts for debit card purchases.

A spokesperson for Sunoco, headquartered in Philadelphia, did not return telephone calls placed by the newspaper, it said.

In the region, Sheetz Inc., Altoona, Pa., has a policy similar to Sunoco's, according to the Tribune-Review. Sheetz places a $75 hold on bank accounts for debit card purchases, the paper said. But immediately after a gasoline purchase is completed, the company notifies the bank to lift the hold so that consumers are charged only for the amount of the purchase, Sheetz spokesperson Monica Jones told the paper.

Jones acknowledged that banks have varying time schedules for determining when money in personal accounts actually becomes available to consumers.

Other major oil companies also place holds on the credit lines of consumers who use credit cards to pay for purchases at the pump, the report said.