- A woman was mistakenly charged 60,158 euros ($66,000) instead of 60,158 Hungarian forints ($199) for two nights in a three-star hotel in Budapest.
- Charlotte Smith, 22, was immediately refunded by the hotel but was charged £3,000 ($3,700) in transaction fees by her bank, Barclays.
- She told Insider she “completely panicked” upon realizing what had happened.
- Smith claims the bank initially refused to waive the fees as it was “not a bank error.”
- However, after days of struggling, Smith has finally had the charges removed and Barclays has apologized.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A 22-year-old woman from Essex in the UK was left drastically out of pocket after she was mischarged for a hotel stay.
Charlotte Smith was mistakenly billed 60,158 euros ($66,000) instead of 60,158 Hungarian forints ($199) for two nights in a three-star hotel in Budapest with her boyfriend, Charlie, she confirmed to Insider.
Although the hotel, Bo18 Hotel Superior, swiftly spotted the mistake and refunded her, the transaction still went through Smith’s Barclays debit card even though she only had £400 ($490) in her account.
What’s more, she was charged £3,000 ($3,700) in transaction fees, and Smith claims the bank refused to waive the cost.
“Barclays UK have let me down such awful customer services at a stressful time and no help at all!” Smith, an NHS secretary, wrote on Facebook.
“How can they authorise a payment for €60,000 ($66,000) and leave me over £3,000 ($3,700) overdrawn because of a admin error at the hotel and there blaming exchange rates [sic].”
But when she attempted to complain to Barclays, she was repeatedly told it was “not a bank error,” as the screengrabs she shared on Facebook show.
“For anyone that banks with Barclays UK be careful as they do not check every payment that goes through the system apparently! £56,000 payment can go through even if you don’t have it in your account!!!” she added alongside the pictures.
And Smith was left battling with the bank for days, complaining online and also going into a branch in person, but to no avail.
“They said as I had authorized the payment it was my fault and the error was all down to me. They were very rude and patronising and didn’t want to help,” she told The Daily Mail, adding that she’d even had to take time off work to try and sort the situation.
On September 10, she wrote on Facebook: “Barclays UK are the worst service ever absolute joke of a company! I’d advise everyone that’s with them to leave!
“Told me last Wednesday my case was raised with the chargeback team to then tell me today that it was never ever raised and they are no longer dealing with my case!!”
Although the hotel immediately refunded the money they’d mistakenly charged Smith, she said it wasn’t until she returned home to the UK that she realized something was wrong — she attempted to make a £4 ($5) purchase at a chemist and her card was declined.
“On checking out of the hotel there was some issue with the payment,” Smith told Insider. “I was told to take a seat whilst they looked into it.
“Five minutes later it was all done and off we went.
“The next day I was trying to buy something for £4 ($5) but my card got declined. Instantly I felt ill.
“I checked my online banking and see I was around £3,000 ($3,700) overdrawn and had no idea how this was possible since I don’t have an overdraft that big.
“I saw on my statements the amount the hotel had charged me and completely panicked.”
She saw that she’d been charged £56,154.42 ($69,000) by the hotel and then £52,768.42 ($64,840) had been paid straight back in, but that meant she was still left with over £3,000 ($3,700) to pay.
“I only had a couple of hundred pounds in the account and was shocked that my bank would take out £56,000,” Smith told the Mail.
“I can’t understand how they could do that as I’ve never had anything like that in the account. They have told me they cannot monitor every transaction but surely such a big amount would have been flagged up to their fraud team.”
However, Smith says she has now finally had the fee waived by Barclays.
“I am just so relieved that this is over and the bank has seen sense,” she told the Mail.
“This has been so stressful and I have been sick with worry. I’m pleased that the bank will refund the money as I had nothing to do with the amount being charged.”
A spokesperson for Barclays told the Mail: “We’re sorry Ms Smith experienced a problem with a mistaken payment taken at a hotel in Hungary.
“When Ms Smith contacted us to get help with the transaction fee it’s clear we fell short of our high standards and we’re happy to confirm that all fees have now been refunded.”
Insider has contacted Charlotte Smith, Barclays, Booking.com, and Bo18 Hotel Superior for further comment.