An error made by payment processing company Worldpay led to hundreds of people being overcharged by thousands of pounds for fairground rides at Brighton Pier.
Fairground user were accidently charged over £2,100 for using fairground attractions after the Worldpay system used the last two digits of the year rather than the amount charged when processing the payment.
Brighton Palace Pier said several hundred people had been affected. “We understand from Worldpay that the error meant that one batch of payments used the figures of the date of the transaction as the amount spent, resulting in serious over-charging,” it said in a statement.
Worldpay said: “Due to an isolated error, some customers were debited an incorrect amount on 22 June at Brighton Palace Pier.
“We are working to credit the cardholders’ account as a matter of urgency for the incorrect amount, and will cover the costs of any associated bank charges incurred.”
While errors like this are rare in terms of the massive volumes of payments made using systems such as Worldpay, the size of the overcharging is worrying, with the potential to leave people seriously short of funds.
One woman who was overcharged due to the error told The Guardian: “I was fortunate in that I could transfer funds from another account because I don’t have an overdraft facility on the account from which the money was taken and therefore faced charges.
“But there will be thousands of people out there who are not able to do that and could be facing serious problems if they have direct debits, standing orders and the like or even if they simply need to buy food for their kids.”
With millions more payments being made using technologies such as contactless cards and mobile wallets, technical glitches can never be 100% avoided, but the speed at which the problems are identified and rectified is vital.
The Covid-19 pandemic increased the use of digital payments technology as businesses asked their customers to pay using contactless cards to reduce physical contacts.
According to figures from UK Finance’s 2021 payment markets report, 9.6 billion contactless payments were made in the UK during 2020. This was over a quarter (27%) of all payments made in the UK.
Worldpay processes payments from the point of sale, authorises it, and transfers the money to the merchant from the bank or credit card company. It has seen its value grow rapidly during the digital payments revolution.
The company was originally part of the Royal Bank of Scotland but in December 2010, Advent International and Bain Capital acquired the company for over £2bn when the bank was forced to sell off assets. It was later sold to Vantiv in 2018 for over £7bn. Since March 2019, it has been part of Fidelity National Information Services (FIS), after it was acquired by the US payments company for £32bn.