JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A large supreme pizza at an Arlington pizza parlor costs around 17 dollars, but recently some customers have been paying a lot more.
Nearly 20 customers posted complaints online and to First Coast News claiming that in the month of March exactly $100 extra was taken from their account after purchasing food at Celino's Pizza on Cesery Boulevard.
The complaints all say it happened in March. Kelly Stephens said it took her two weeks to notice her $20 pizza actually cost her $120.
"My husband and I were just saying 'wow' we thought we had more in our account than that," Stephens said.
Stephens ate regularly at Celino's and enjoyed the food, but this is the first time she noticed a money problem. She wasn't alone. Posts on social media yielded other customers echoing a similar loss.
Laura Laidlaw said she initially thought the restaurant employee punched in an extra '1.'
"A little receipt for $17.11 cost me 117.11," she said. "I saw other [people on Facebook] warning, so I chimed in that it just happened to me, then all these others started coming on that it's happening to them."
We took the complaints to Celino's for an explanation.
Owner Elvan Kocak told me he wasn't sure at first what the problem was, but he claims he's not the culprit. He says he's a victim too.
"Whoever comes into me I'm trying to refund them from my own money," Kocak told First Coast News.
He says he's been refunding the complaining customers as a courtesy, but insists the extra money didn't go to him.
So who's getting the money?
He says he hired a new credit card merchant provider about two months ago.
"I've contacted them about these issues and they haven't said anything to me," he said. "I've already canceled them and moved to Suntrust [starting Monday.]"
Merchant's Choice sales representative Larry Cirillo did not respond to telephone calls, but he said via a text "he has been dealing with some of these issues, they are looking into merchant complaints and are not able to comment at this time."
Cirillo also said a few Merchant's Choice clients are experiencing the same overcharging issue.
"It's making me look bad," explained Kocak who says he's hiring an attorney. "I've been here three years, I've never had this problem."
Both Laidlaw and Stephens say they received a refund, but not before filing a dispute with their bank, contacting police and media. Kocak now says he will promptly refund any customer with a similar situation.
"I just hope all the victims will go back and check their account, people may not even know about it if they haven't checked," said Stephens.
Tyler Wildman CEO of Identity Theft Countermeasures Group said it's possible the overcharging is happening in the business or by the payment processor. Wildman recommends the following to avoid overcharging:
1. When possible, keep your debit or credit card in your sight. If possible stand in front of the person as they run the card.
2. Try to use credit cards instead of debit cards because they have more protection and only a $50 maximum liability for fraud
3. Never leave blank lines on the credit card slip.
4. If you're going to leave a tip in cash cross out the tip line.
5. Take a picture of the actual credit card slip filled out so that you know exactly what you agreed to pay.6. Check your credit card statements frequently in and crosscheck charges to spot fraud.