Priscilla Robinson says her home loan prospects could be affected for up to 12 months as a result of a flaw in the way Coles processes payments for online orders.
Ms Robinson placed an order with the Sunshine Plaza store in Maroochydore, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, last Tuesday morning using her PayPal account, which is connected to her bank account reserved for everyday expenses.
One item, some fish, in her order however, was out of stock and rather than this cost being deducted from the order’s total, a transaction for an entire new total amount was processed.
While a request was sent from Coles for PayPal to release the initial amount immediately, the two charges had already pushed Ms Robinson’s bank account into a negative balance.
“It really pissed me off because I recently got turned down for a home loan, not because I have a lack of money, it was purely because one of my bank accounts had gone into negative before, just due to a miscalculation,” Ms Robinson told Yahoo News Australia.
“I don’t understand why Coles charges that whole amount again. It’s ridiculous.”
She feared the ordeal could continue to haunt her for up to a year, with banks being particularly unforgiving given the recession and the widespread impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The bank said if I kept a clean record on my bank accounts for three months, then they would re-assess the home loan. But obviously that has now been thrown off.
“It could push it out for 12 months before I can even reapply again. I’ve been so diligent with making sure that I always have more than enough money in my bill account, just to make sure it never went in the negative.”
The initial amount has been released back into Ms Robinson’s bank account, but the fact it sent the balance negative stays on her record.
“I only ever transfer enough money to that account to cover the bills, and even if I transfer money quickly from another account if I’ve miscalculated, the bank still sees that it’s gone into negative,” she said.
“Next time I go for a home loan, my record’s still going to show that my account’s been in a negative.”
Coles and bank responds to customer’s claims
She argued Coles should be the one to step in and contact her bank to explain how its process was responsible for her brief negative account balance.
“They need to do something. They don’t realise what they’ve actually done for me now,” Ms Robinson said.
Ms Robinson said following her complaint she was offered $30 compensation and told that if required, she would be given a note from Coles explaining why its charges had overdrawn her account.
After speaking with her bank about the issue, she claimed an employee confirmed her briefly overdrawn account could influence her loan application.
Ms Robinson’s bank also confirmed this with Yahoo News Australia, but said additional factors would also be taken into consideration.
“We know that no two customers are the same, which is why we have detailed conversations and take into account a range of factors when assessing any home loan application,” a spokesperson said.
“We’re committed to lending responsibly and continually review and adjust our policies to ensure customers are able to appropriately repay their loan, both today and in the future.”
The supermarket has previously admitted it was ironing out some kinks with its online payment system, which has seen families go days without access to groceries.
In Ms Robinson’s case, brought to the retailer’s attention via its Facebook page, Coles rejected her claim its payment process could compromise her home loan application.
“Our Customer Care team has spoken to the customer who has confirmed Paypal has released the funds held after she placed her order,” a spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.
“We have apologised for the inconvenience.”
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