Ben's bank said that a series of transactions - made on a Saturday night - had come to over £3,000. Ben said that he had been in a club with friends, but hadn’t spent anywhere near that amount of money - and that someone at the club must have used his card.

Disputed transactions

Ben was about to turn forty, and he and some friends went abroad for a long weekend to celebrate.

On the Monday, when Ben was back home, his bank got in touch with him to say that he had gone over his overdraft limit. The bank said that a series of transactions - made on the Saturday night - had come to over £3,000. Ben said that he had been in a club with friends, but hadn’t spent anywhere near that amount of money - and that someone at the club must have used his card fraudulently.

The bank asked Ben what he thought had happened. Ben said he’d had his card in his pocket the whole evening - and hadn’t left it behind the bar. He suggested that maybe a waitress had taken his card without him seeing and used it at the bar - and then returned it to him. He also said it was possible that someone at the bar had cloned his card when he had paid for some drinks - and used it to make the payments. The bank told Ben that they would investigate and let him know what they found.

A few days later the bank got in touch with Ben. They told him that his genuine card had been used for each transaction - and that each payment had been authorised by his signature. They said that on this basis, Ben was liable for the transactions.

But Ben said he hadn’t authorised the payments, and he complained to the bank, saying that they must have made a mistake. When the bank refused to reconsider, Ben asked us to step in.

What we said

Ben talked us through what had happened. He told us that he hadn’t left his card behind the bar and that it had been in his pocket the whole time. When we looked at the information the bank sent us, we noted that Ben had signed to authorise various payments during the evening - and that it looked as though he had eventually left his card behind the bar and accumulated a large tab, that he had signed to authorise at the end of the evening.

We thought it was unlikely that Ben’s card had been taken from his pocket and then returned without his noticing. We also decided that the chances of his card having been cloned were slim. There had been no other reports of this sort of activity happening at the club, and the bank’s records showed that B’s card had been used to authorise each payment.

Taking everything into account, we decided it was likely that Ben had left his card behind the bar and accumulated a large tab without realising how much money he was spending. Under these circumstances, we decided that the bank couldn’t be held liable for the transactions - and we didn’t uphold Ben’s complaint.