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$250 for a Pizza? You've Got to Be Kidding!

A technical glitch at a Petaluma Little Caesar's results in customers being charged for all the pizzas they purchased over the past year at the same time

PETALUMA, CA -- Many families love Little Caesar’s for their $5 pizzas.

But customers in Petaluma are reeling after being charged for all the pizzas they have purchased over the past year at once—some to the tune of hundreds of dollars— the result of a glitch between the pizza chain’s point-of-sale system and the merchant’s payment software.

“For some reason or another, the charges were not going through and all transactions were on hold,” said Fred Berry, who owns six Little Caesar’s franchises in the Bay Area, including those in Petaluma and Rohnert Park.

Berry said he became aware of the glitch after realizing he was not generating any revenue from his Petaluma and Rohnert Park stores earlier this month. He contacted the bank handling the transactions and learned that payments made between January 1 and September 9 at the Petaluma location were never processed. 

In Rohnert Park, debit and credit cards were not charged for approximately two months.

The glitch was finally resolved September 10, resulting in all outstanding charges being put through at the same time.

“Unfortunately this happens with technology,” Berry said. “It’s an isolated incident and we are trying to do what we can to help people out, including giving them a couple of free dinners on us.”

Some have criticized the franchise for taking eight months to realize the problem and failing to notify customers, many of who thought their debit card information had been stolen and canceled their cards.

“They could have put up signs up on the store or taken an ad out in a local newspaper,” said Lisa Asbury, whose boyfriend cancelled his card after seeing what he believed were fraudulent charges from Little Caesar’s, where he hadn’t been in months.

“It’s a bad sign of how the owner does his accounting if it takes him eight months to find this glitch and it's really affected some people who have had their accounts overdrawn,” Asbury said.

Since learning of the glitch, Little Caesar's did put up a letter at both its Rohnert Park and Petaluma stores customers apologizing for the situation, according to Berry, the franchise owner.

But that has done little to prevent a barrage of customers over the past week upset about being "overcharged."

“Hundreds of people have come in yelling at me,” said a tired Ignacio Ortiz, a manager at the Petaluma’s Plaza North Shopping Center location. “But what can I do? I’m just an employee.”

Were you impacted by the glitch? 

Cathy September 18, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Don't get me wrong...I think the owner should have caught this a long time ago! I am thinking he should get a new accountant...or maybe get one. But if customers balanced their checkbooks (which means keeping track of their spending) wouldn't they have noticed that these transactions had not gone through?
Audrey September 18, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Same type of problem here, there were 2 charges on our bank account, both on the same day, but different amounts. I contacted our bank thinking it was fraud and they were aware of the Little Caesar's problem and explained it to me. I figure in the future, we will just pay cash..
amanda September 18, 2012 at 05:34 PM
I'm on a very tight budget every penny is accounted for, and this situation where $63 was taken out of my account left me in a situationof not only bring overdrafted but also not able to have the $40 left in my account for food for my children I'm really upset I will not being going back
AyurvedicMama September 18, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Cathy, I balance my checkbook to the penny and NEVER overdraw my account. My husband picked up a pizza at Little Caeser's (BLECH!) several months ago and used our debit card. The money never withdrew. We still kept that in our ledger and contacted them directly and got a half ass answer, but figured it would be deducted at some point in the future. Last week, we had not just one (legit) charge, but several dozen (unauthorized) charges, some not even for the valid amount. Granted, we only went there ONE time!!!!!! We contacted the store and they were of no help. We filed fraudulent charges with the bank, as that is exactly what happened. Fortunately we do keep all receipts. We are still unclear as to how/why/where these other charges with other amounts came into the picture. I can understand inadvertently double charging and then refunding, but something seems awfully fishy here.
mdb79 September 18, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Well, if every penny is accounted for, wouldn't you have noticed that the transaction failed to go through? If you're accounting for every single cent you spend, wouldn't you keep track of each purchase and reconcile all of the purchases with the amounts shown in your bank account? These people aren't stealing money from you; they are just processing payments that didn't orginally go through. Furthermore, if you're tracking every dollar so closely, you wouldn't have been overdrawn; you would have recorded the withdrawal (whether it had been processed through the bank or not) and wouldn't have spent more money than you had.
Canefighter September 18, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Anytime I pick up one of those five buck pizzas I buy them with Cash. That might be a novel idea but have never had a problem.
Scott Macunga September 18, 2012 at 09:44 PM
You ATE the pizzas, didn't you? Or don't you remember that?
kenneth henderson September 18, 2012 at 10:42 PM
thats right they sure didnt say anything when they got transaction slip ,until the banks withdrew it from there accts. im srooy they didnt but thats the frist thing i look at when i get it.
wil September 19, 2012 at 12:52 AM
additionally if "every penny is accounted for" you have to have realized that you were never charged for these purchases. As an honest person did you alert the company that you purchased $63 in pizza and were never charged?!
Liz Kolarik September 19, 2012 at 03:36 PM
We keep good records. We went in MARCH and and spent 17.82. After two months of it not going through we just assumed there was an internal problem-it was highlighted in our ledger. Then...real life happens and we just forgot. We had to cancel both out ATM cards and it was a major pain. Why are you guys attacking the people this happened to? I find that odd. Do you guys like the pizza that much? Yikes. It's a shame that it happened and I agree that somoeone-the owner or the bank should have notified us.
Bill Fishman September 19, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Depending on how the merchant to bank interface works, it may be necessary for the merchant to go on line at the end of each day to review and finalize the day's transactions -- essentially to enter them. If this was a new system to the merchant, perhaps he was not aware of that last important step. (I missed it when I first began accepting credit cards at my office, but tracked it down quickly after a reasonably large transaction did not show up in my bank account.)
David Escutia September 21, 2012 at 04:51 AM
well, I was charged for 140 dls in 9 diferent transactions, I never noticed that they never charge me for em, my mistake, just I hope they dont charge me double.
ExaminedLife September 24, 2012 at 08:19 PM
I took the phrase "accounted for" to mean that she had a specific plan/need for every dollar in her checking account and could not afford to suddenly and unexecptedly lose any of that money. Why not give the benefit of a doubt? Just because she didn't realize that pizza orders weren't properly charged in the past doesn't make her dishonest. And it doesn't mean that she deserves to suddenly be short of cash that she really needed. I feel for this woman. Somehow it's okay that Ceaser's messed up, but not okay that an ordinary person lost track of the charges which she had every reasonable expectation had been handled properly?

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