The Norwegian city of Trondheim has a problem. They are charging people up to $158,000 to park on street for a couple of hours. OK, its obviously a mistake, but consider the problem. You use your debit card to park on street — it gets hit for say $37,000. It leaves your account vastly overdrawn. Or, the bank understands that there is a problem and shuts off your card. All right smack in the middle of the Christmas Shopping Season.
What had happened was that the P and D machines were multiplying the parking charges by 10,000 and then happily sending the charges off to the bank. The bank was either voiding the cards or in many cases paying the money and marking the accounts spectacularly overdrawn. (This is not unusual in European banks, doubt if it would happen here.)
Now the embarassed city is calling banks and the banks are attempting to reverse the charges. But have you ever tried to make that happen. It could take as long as a week or two. In the mean time, no shopping. Maybe a good thing.
The moral of the story — be careful when you have the ability to charge folks credit and debit cards. You could cause a disaster. I know of one case where the parking revenue control system automatically charged all the monthly parkers in a garage twice for their monthly parking fees. The money was taken out of their bank accounts, and many, who were sailing pretty close to the wind, found their accounts overdrawn. It was a nightmare for the parking operator.
Thanks to Kyle Cashion for the heads up.