A struggling family have been left without food in yet another example of the traumatic toll a change to Coles’ online payment system is having on customers.
The dramatic ordeal was detailed by a man from Hobart, in Tasmania, who placed his family’s fortnightly groceries order with Coles on Saturday.
After arranging for his $322.85 order to be delivered on Sunday, he later remembered he forgot to include dishwashing liquid and laundry powder in his order.
He logged back into his account and added the two items to his order, bumping the total up to $327.70. Other than that, he didn’t give his order any further thought.
That was until Sunday, when the family’s food for the following two weeks was supposed to arrive but didn’t. And when the man checked his email, he found out why.
“I checked my emails to find Coles have cancelled my grocery shopping because instead of taking only the $4.85 out to adjust to what's been modified, they tried to take the full amount of 327.70,” he explained in a post shared to Hobart’s Vigilante News.
He immediately picked up the phone and contacted the customer care hotline, but it was only for him to be told to contact his bank to request that his money be released.
When a Coles online order is modified, either by the supermarket or a customer, a new total is removed from the shopper’s bank account, and the old one is released.
In this instance, funds are supposed to be released immediately, but in the case of Coles customers, the wait period can be up to 10 days, depending on banks.
Coles delivery driver takes shopping back to depot
After getting off the phone, the man was shocked to hear a Coles delivery truck pulling up outside his house – thinking that his order had been cancelled, he went out to investigate.
He said the delivery man went as far to deliver the family’s groceries to their front door, but had a swift change in attitude after being explained the situation.
“He called his workplace on his phone to eventually come back to me saying he needs to take my food back because my order was cancelled,” the shopper wrote.
The dad said he tried explaining that he had already paid for the original amount and was confused at why Coles couldn’t just take the additional $4.85 that he owed.
“He apologised and started packing up. At this point it was hard not to get emotional about it,” he wrote.
There are five people in his household, including a five-year-old, two-year-old, and an 11-month-old child who requires formula, which the family ran out of on Saturday morning.
@Coles the new payment system Coles has charged us twice one first one was correct the second time was items not supplied. Coles has now told us 10 working days to refund. @woolworths has just picked up a new customer great way to treat pensioners.
— Casper (@anc110) September 22, 2020
“We have barely any food in our house, no money to get more groceries and in desperate need of our groceries being delivered to us today (Sunday),” the man said.
“I am at a loss of what more we can do besides starve and wait for our money to be refunded due to their fault. From doing research we have found we are not the only ones.”
The page added its own commentary, labelling the ordeal “beyond belief”.
In updates later made to the post, it was revealed that the family’s local Foodworks store had donated them some supplies, and set up a kitty for any other locals who wanted to help them.
Generosity brought Hobart dad to tears
The dad responded to the huge wave of support, saying “all the kind-hearted people in the community” had brought him to tears.
He explained that he merely wanted to warn other families by sharing his experience, and never expected to be on the receiving end of such an outpouring of generosity.
A host of other Coles shoppers have reported similar experiences with the payment system glitch, with another family recently having to go without groceries for the same reason.
A Coles spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia that the supermarket was “working closely with financial institutions to improve this experience”.
“If a customer modifies or cancels their order before it’s picked, Coles Online requests the pre-authorised payments to be automatically released by the customer’s bank,” they said.
“While most banks have processes in place to accurately release funds and ensure pending funds are returned within 24 to 48 hours, we have been made aware that some payment methods take longer.
“We acknowledge this is a stressful time for customers and we are working closely with financial institutions to improve this experience.
“Our Customer Care team has spoken to this customer to ensure they have access to the groceries their family needs and the funds are released from their bank.”
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