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Pittsburgh -- Sunoco Inc. abruptly abandoned a controversial new policy to freeze $100 in consumers' personal bank accounts each time they used debit cards to pay for gas, no matter how much fuel was actually purchased, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
Philadelphia-based Sunoco, which has 4,500 gas outlets throughout the eastern United States, began placing the $100 hold on accounts earlier this week to ensure people had enough funds in the bank to pay for gasoline purchases.
Such holds freeze money in a bank account until the charges are reconciled, a process that could take several days.
According to the Tribune-Review , WTAE-TV reporter Meghan Jones said after she began calling Sunoco to inquire about the policy, the company suddenly reversed itself and resumed its former policy of placing only a $1 hold on bank accounts for debit card purchases.
Sheetz Inc., based in Altoona, Pa., has a policy similar to Sunoco's. Sheetz, which has 309 convenience stores, places a $75 hold on bank accounts for debit card purchases. But immediately after a gasoline purchase is completed, the company notifies the bank to lift the hold so that consumers are charged only for the amount of the purchase, Sheetz spokeswoman Monica Jones told the Tribune-Review .
Jones acknowledged to the Tribune-Review that banks have varying time schedules for determining when money in personal accounts actually becomes available to consumers.
Other major oil companies also place holds on the credit lines of consumers who use credit cards to pay for purchases at the pump.