The Commonwealth Bank is scrambling to rectify a payment issue that has left hundreds of the bank’s customers, including some small business owners, out of pocket after they were charged twice for purchases.
CBA customers were informed on Wednesday morning via the bank’s mobile app that some customers were seeing duplicate transactions on their credit and debit card statements.
A similar statement was posted on the CBA Facebook page on Wednesday, with the bank saying it was working to rectify the situation.
Hundreds of angry customers, including some small business owners, have flooded the CBA Facebook page with complaints. A number of complainants revealed they had been double-charged for purchases worth thousands of dollars.
One student said he had been charged twice for his tuition fees of $16,000, while another customer told the bank she is $6000 out of pocket.
Others said they have been stung by extra bank fees after the double-charges caused their accounts to be overdrawn, although CBA has confirmed it will refund any fees or charges associated with the duplicated charges.
Despite CBA saying on Wednesday it was working quickly to reverse the payments, Facebook users said on Thursday morning they were still to receive their money back. Some customers said they had now been charged three times for the same purchases.
One small business owner also questioned why the bank had seemingly failed to tell its business customers about the issue.
“Why is this notice not on the Comm business page??” they said.
“Not only have you stuffed our personal accounts you stuffed the business account. How do I buy supplies today?? Will you lend me the money till you put it back? Or should I just seek another financial institute?”
Plenty of CBA customers were quick to highlight the payment issue occurred on the same day the bank revealed a record profit of more than $9 billion for the previous financial year.
“Right royal cluster CBA – maybe spend some of your [$]9.18 billion profit on some robust back-end processing,” said one customer.
In a statement provided to SmartCompany, CBA said duplicate credit card transactions were refunded on Wednesday night and duplicate debt card transactions would be refunded throughout the day on Thursday. Both duplicated and refunded transactions will appear in customer’s accounts.
“We apologise to our customers who have been affected by duplicate card transactions,” the bank said.
David McKellar, director of accounting firm Allied Business Accountants, told SmartCompany this morning many small businesses rely on credit cards to manage their day-to-day trading, particularly very small businesses, and so any instance of double-charges could do considerable damage.
“A lot of small businesses have things like software subscriptions charged to credit cards and so the biggest issue with double-charges is if it affects the business’s available credit limit,” he says.
With less credit available, small businesses run the risk of having payments for other essential services rejected, McKellar says.
But McKellar says small business customers of CBA could also be fighting another front today.
“The other issue in this situation is they will likely be getting calls from customers,” he says.
McKellar says when an individual sees a double-charge on their credit or debit card statement, their first port of call is usually the business they have purchased the goods or services from.
“It will create an administrative burden if a whole bunch of people contact them,” he says.
“And if someone has been charged twice for a $10 lunch, they may not bother going back to the business so it could affect their reputation.”
McKellar says the goal for small businesses should be aiming to not be dependent on credit cards or short-term lending.
“Managing cash flow is important, so budgeting and monitoring your sales and expenses and your debtors and creditors is important,” he says.
McKellar says understanding the working capital your business needs to “ride out that wave of cash flow” will also help avoid a situation where you are down to your last few dollars.
“It’s about planning and being aware and ready to deal with any shortages, which happen from time to time,” he says.