Family says paying for ice cream cones at Sugar Land shop cost them $500 tip

A family goes out for ice cream and says they ended up with a $500 tip on their debit card bill. And the store owner admits they're not the only ones.

Most credit and debit card transactions go through just fine. But errors can happen. And when they do, they can tie up your money for weeks.


"I was pretty livid. I said, no, it’s not going down like that," said Carolyn Sion.

Sion says her daughter took her and her grandson to Marble Slab on Highway 6 in Sugar Land, paying the bill with a debit card.

"She showed me the bill, $532.50. It showed her with the tip of $509, as a tip for a total of $22 for ice cream cones," said Sion.

A $500 tip that Sion says they've had trouble getting the merchant or the bank to correct.

"My daughter needs her money back. She has bills due this week. She has to pay her rent," she said.


The Marble Slab store owner told us by phone that the credit card machine has done this to other customers.  He says posted a sign on it, warning, "When tipping, no decimal or extra zeros after. Tips are non-refundable."  

The owner says he cannot reverse the charges, and that customers must contact their banks to correct them. And he says he's getting a new credit card machine.

Credit card processing errors can happen and can tie up debit card funds.  

Just recently, many Meijer grocery shoppers around the country say their debit cards were charged multiple times for the same transaction. It took weeks to clear up and release their funds.


The San Francisco Chronicle reports a woman is in a dispute over a $10,000 cab fare for a one-mile ride.

So what can you do? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says to notify the merchant and the card issuer in writing immediately.

"The earlier you identify the issue, the better the chance you get your money back," said Wei Zhang with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Federal law limits your exposure to $50 for unauthorized transactions on credit cards, as well as debit cards if the charge is reported in two days.


While you don't have to pay the credit card charge while it's investigated, it can count against your credit limit. The charge can tie up money in your debit account until it's resolved.

Consumers can also file complaints with the CFPB.

"We will reach out to the company, let them know there’s a consumer complaint. We have a process in place to help the consumer get the issue resolved," said Zhang.

He recommends consumers keep receipts and check statements for inaccurate charges. Because an error on a debit card charge can tie up funds in the account, you may want to consider whether you want to use that card if you have other bills to pay.


After our story aired, a spokesperson for Fat Brands, the parent company of Marble Slab, contacted us to say the store owner will give the family a $500 refund check and sent us the following statement:

"The Marble Slab Creamery Sugar Land store owner has always been committed to seeing through that the customer was refunded their $500. He called his credit card company immediately upon being informed of the situation and was told the most efficient way to go about it was for the customer to dispute the charge. Disputing a charge can take some time as the charge itself needs to process. Unfortunately, the charge has still not processed. Given the amount of money at hand, the franchisee will be issuing a direct check to the customer. 

"Additionally, moving forward, the credit card processing company has implemented a new process for the store where a tip can be reversed in the same day to ensure that if a tip amount is entered incorrectly that it can be remedied in a timelier fashion. This new measure will help prevent this type of situation from occurring again."