One of England’s most popular tourist attractions has apologised after hundreds of visitors to Brighton Palace Pier were overcharged for fairground rides to the tune of thousands of pounds.
The pier – which is largely cashless – blamed the fiasco on the processing company Worldpay, which it said had used the date of the transaction instead of the actual amount in each case.
Worldpay, which is now working to provide refunds, then compounded the anger of customers who contacted it by refusing to engage with them on the grounds of data protection.
One woman who had visited the attraction in April told of her surprise on the morning of 24 June when a text message from her bank informed her that her account was overdrawn. She discovered that £2,104.18 had been taken on Wednesday by Brighton Palace Pier in what was described as a “deferred payment.”
“I simply couldn’t understand what had happened. We had visited the pier back in April with our two grandsons and I spent about £85 on my debit card, which paid for three all-inclusive wrist bands at £25 each for the fairground rides, some candy floss and doughnuts,” she said.
Blaming what it described as a “processing error” by its payment provider, Brighton Palace Pier said that it had come to its attention on Thursday that “several hundred customers” had been overcharged considerable sums for ride tickets.
“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 added in a statement.
The company said that money wrongly debited from customers’ bank accounts would be refunded by Worldpay at the earliest opportunity and any associated bank charges would be returned to their accounts.
The woman who told of her experience added: “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.”
Worldpay said in a statement: “We can confirm that 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. Depending on the cardholders’ bank, it may take up to five days for the correction to hit their account. We apologise for the inconvenience this may have caused.”