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Have you ever been billed months later on your credit card for a meal?

This is the second time this has happened to me, and it can be disconcerting. I was just wondering if anyone knew how long businesses have to submit the charges to the credit card company. I'm not sure if the place accidentally double billed me or the money never was taken off my credit card in the first place from a few months ago last year. I'm going to go through my receipts tomorrow. Is there a time limit for this? My credit card hasn't been stolen or anything so until I sort this out I'm very confused.

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  1. I think there may be a six month limit: but on the other hand, why should there be a limit? If you bought the stuff, eventually you should pay for it. Once I got billed about six months later, from a furniture store, but I did realize all along it was pending. Smaller places probably do their books differently than chain stores.

    2 Replies
    1. re: coll

      I'm not saying I shouldn't pay for it coll, I was just wondering if this was really unusual. I guess if it happened to you, it is not like a one in a million freak thing. Good thing this doesn't happen often though, it could mess up people's finances.

      1. re: givemecarbs

        yeah it happened to me in the 1970s actually, but nothing surprises me, then or now. I've gotten late billed a month or two late more recently, but they always seem to bill me eventually!

    2. I've got about a dozen receipts from restaurants that have yet to appear on my AmEx credit card bill; some of them go back two years or more. The majority are from one restaurant that must have had billing issues because they've stopped accepting AmEx. I tend to save my receipts until the charges show up on a bill.

      1 Reply
      1. re: CindyJ

        I don't just tend to save receipts, I obsessively keep a running total of what's coming up. I'd be scared to do otherwise!

      2. Call AMEX, they are going to be able to help you. It's easier than rummaging through online or paper statements.

        1. Yes, I was, and the charge was incorrect, I wasn't even in that city at the time, let alone that restaurant ! I'm not sure AMEX ever corrected it.

          As far as i'm concerned, if they swipe it, and you sign for it right then and it's "approved", it should show IMMEDIATELY. Not months later.

          Another reason to watch your bank balances and credit card statements like a hawk.

          2 Replies
          1. re: im_nomad

            Always check. if it's a business card someone needs to check the copy of the bill with the CC statement.

            Decades ago I was a waiter in a four star restaurant. A waiter was caught using the card of a regular customer and wrote it for what this customer usually got along with a healthy tip. The only reason he was caught is because someone checked and the customer was *overseas" at the time.

            Who knows how many times he had done this?

            1. re: im_nomad

              I'm sorry, but that is incorrect. Approval is not the same as submitting the charge. Typically AMEX approves the amount, but there are several steps and processors involved before it ever reaches the billing stage. The restaurant must re-enter your charge for the final amount (the "approval" that you insist should be billed instantly is ALWAYS done for an amount larger than the pre-tip total), submit the batch of charges to the processing company, etc. It is not at all uncommon for mistakes to be made and not be caught by the establishment for a month or two.

            2. We were in Paris a few years ago on a family trip. We used our Visa in a 2 star resto for 4 meals (pretty much $$) and received 2 charges for the exact same day, one was correct, one was bogus. Had big fight with Visa, but luckily I had the original bill, kept disputing the bad charge and they removed it. Wonder if resto was disciplined?

              1. Call your credit card company and ask them to check back in their records to see if this is a second submission. Years ago (nearly 30!), I took a friend to lunch in a much talked about Chinese restaurant in Juarez, Mexico. I was curious whether American Express would bill me at the exchange rate of the day we at there or the day they paid the bill, so I paid particular attention and was relieved it was for the day we ate. It was Christmas time, the food wasn't all that great, but the show was the socially elite ladies (some women's club, I'm sure) trying to out-jewel and out-fur each other. Hey, a free floor show, but the food wasn't good enough for a repeat performance. To my amazement I was billed again for the same amount by the same restaurant in JULY...!!! I called American Express, they took it off my bill and told me they were warning the restaurant that if it happened again, they would withdraw American Express from their services. I think all debit and credit cards will take care of it for you today if there is a repeat charge. Good luck!

                1. I once had a charge at a bar show up a couple of days later for the amount minus the tip. Then a couple months later, the amount for the tip showed up-go figure.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Jule

                    I actually had this happen too, and it freaked me out because I thought I'd somehow forgotten to tip my server! I actually hiked back to the restuarant the following Monday to apologize and pay the tip in cash, but then they explained that sometimes the charges show up separately, especially when the charge comes on a weekend. They were very nice, especially because they could have played along and gotten an extra-large guilty tip. Of course then they would have lost a regular, which they now have.

                  2. Here's the skinny (so to speak!) from someone who works with credit card processing. The merchant, in this case a restaurant, should always bill you as soon as the goods are provided to you. When any business agrees to accept credit cards, they agree to follow the rules of credit card acceptance and billing you in a timely manner is actually one of the rules. Can you imagine the havoc it wreak in all of our lives if this were a common place thing? It would really be a problem. And, technically speaking, if you were to call your credit card company and question this charge (not whether you made it but whether it was billed twice to you) the card company should initiate a charge back to the restaurant. This would credit you the amount that in dispute and deduct it from the restaurant. Depending on how old the charge is (you didn't mention) they may actually not be allowed to bill you at this point. You are obviously concerned enough about fairness to go looking for your receipt, but what you should probably do is check your credit card statement online or call customer service and ask them to search for the restaurant name and amount to see if you were billed twice. Hope this helps!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: roxie0102

                      Thanks for all the comments! I need to keep better records. I still haven't figured out if I was double billed or not. I used a debit card that can be used as a credit card to get a tiny bit of cash back. I guess the deal is that I give up some privacy to get a few pennies back. I'm going to try calling again today. I have to go through a voice activated menu to talk to a real person, and my bad cough was having none of that. While I was recovering enough to call I did some research on credit vs debit cards and learned that debit cards don't provide nearly the protection that credit cards do. The previous time I got double billed it happened right away. The cashier at a local restaraurant said whoops I put it through twice, but no worries the second one will just drop off. Well it didn't and that time it was my bank debit card. I called the bank and they told me to get a print out of my bank statement and take it to the restaurant and show them. Since that time it was only 20.00 I decided to just let it go, but the articles I have been reading recently say that banks really push the debit cards, and not for reasons beneficial to their customers. All this was making me think of just always using cash when possible, but my poor friend John used cash for something last week and lost the receipt, and now the shop owner is saying he never paid. Oh well, sorry for the rant, I'll call later today and let you know how this resolves. Thanks again!

                    2. I think everyone uses POS terminals now so the charges should be submitted when the terminal is settled, usually daily but certainly not more than weekly. Sometimes there's a glitch and the charges don't go through, in which case the merchant can question where their money is. Depending on how on-the-ball the merchant is, it may take a while to get noticed. If that's the case as long as the merchant can supply proof of the charge (usually a copy of the signed sales receipt) it will still go through. Sometimes a year later. Speaking for myself, it's only ever happened with Amex. I've never had it happen with debit - those always go through right away.

                      1. Amex should be able to tell you the original transaction date and the posting date - one should be the night or at least the day after you dined, and the other will be the date the receipt was finally billed to you. A duplicate transaction will have an identical authorization number, something the credit card company should flag and refund immediately.