Shell Oil Double-Charge Saga Plot Thickens

Written by Evan Schuman
February 4th, 2011

One day after saying that some $12 million in duplicate charges were from an outage caused by AT&T on January 29, Shell Oil is withdrawing its statement. Shell is now saying that its outage was an internal systems issue and that Shell alone was responsible for the duplicate charges. Indeed, AT&T is now saying that it never suffered an outage at all.

The information that an AT&T outage not only existed but was the cause of Shell’s system failure was “poor information, poor communication from our teams internally,” Shell spokesperson Theodore Rolfvondenbaumen said on Friday (Feb. 4). Following the preliminary results of a Shell IT investigation, Rolfvondenbaumen said, “we are very much aware that [it] is our issue.”

AT&T late on Friday (Feb. 4) made it explicit that an AT&T outage didn’t happen. “There was no outage with AT&T’s network” and certainly nothing “impacting Shell from AT&T’s network,” said AT&T spokesperson Niall Hickey.

Rolfvondenbaumen didn’t provide an updated timetable for the Shell card-swipe problem that ended with the double-charging of more than 400,000 transactions. That’s important, because new information surfaced late Thursday (Feb. 3) questioning that timetable. On Tuesday (Feb. 1), Shell—along with a memo from its processor, First Data—said the charges that were double-billed all happened on January 29.

But reader comments, and other information, suggest that double-charges from Shell stations had started on January 28. “In terms of the timeframe, we were made aware of the situation on the 29th,” Rolfvondenbaumen said, “and we will fully investigate any incidents before and take into account the possibility that it might have happened earlier.”

Shell said that its IT investigation is continuing and updates should be forthcoming.


One Comment | Read Shell Oil Double-Charge Saga Plot Thickens

  1. John A Says:

    I am in South Georgia and my duplicate charge is on Friday, the 28th. So they obviously do not know what happened. Today is Feb 7 and it has not been reversed.


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.