Carmel Valley lunchtime fast-food routine results in overcharges

Carmel Valley investment manager Ed Wagner points to overcharges on his credit card statement.

By Joe Tash

Ed Wagner is a creature of habit when it comes to lunch.

The Encinitas man, who works as an investment manager at a Carmel Valley office, has gone to the drive-through of the same Taco Bell restaurant on Carmel Valley Road near Interstate 5 once or twice a week for the past three years. He always orders the same thing: two tostadas and a bean burrito, and the total always comes to $3.88.

But last week when he was reviewing his credit card statements, he noticed something amiss: on about half of the charges dating back to December, he was charged either $4.88 or $5.88. That’s when he got suspicious, and decided to conduct a test. He went to the drive-through on April 18, placed his usual order, and received a receipt for $3.88. But when he got back to his office and checked his account online, he found he had been charged $5.88.

In all, Wagner found 15 such overcharges of either $1 or $2 on his credit card statements. He contacted the restaurant chain, which investigated his complaint and then refunded the overcharges.

This newspaper also contacted Taco Bell officials. On Monday, company spokesman Rob Poetsch wrote in an email: “We take this isolated incident very seriously and immediately looked into it. After investigating, our franchisee resolved the matter with the customer, refunded his money and terminated one employee.”

While Wagner said he was happy with the company’s response to his complaint, he suspects other customers were also overcharged. Poetsch wrote that Wagner was the only customer to come forward.

“They’ve been great with me. But I think it’s not enough if they stop here,” Wagner said. “They do need to go back and find all the victims and give them their money back.”

Deputy District Attorney Gina Darvas, who heads the agency’s Consumer Protection Unit, said she’s not sure if the incidents described by Wagner involve criminal fraud or inadvertent overcharging. But she suggested that Wagner contact her office.

“It’s something we would look into,” Darvas said. “We are interested in stuff like this. That’s how we keep the businesses honest.”

She said customers should closely check their receipts when using credit cards, and also double-check their credit card statements.

Wagner said he did not have to sign for the purchases since the amount was small, and did not receive separate credit card receipts to compare with the cash register receipts detailing his meal. Many businesses do provide both receipts to customers who make credit card purchases.

“The big lesson I take from this is this kind of thing probably happens to people a lot more than they think,” said Wagner. “I don’t think people really pay attention to a three- or four-dollar charge. I suspect a lot of errors or misconduct happens to people’s credit cards without them being aware. It makes me a lot more cautious about using my credit card, it makes me rethink whether to use credit cards at all.”

San Diego County residents who suspect they’ve been overcharged, or have questions about potential unfair business practices, can contact the San Diego County District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 619-531-3507.

Related posts:

  1. Carmel Valley Teen Korps visits Silverado Senior Center
  2. MTS launches Compass Card system
  3. Sampson California Realty opens new office in Del Mar/Carmel Valley
  4. Carmel Valley planning board voices opposition to group’s proposal to move Carmel Valley to another district
  5. Carmel Valley: Reopening of Highway 56 bike path delayed

Short URL:

Posted by Staff on Apr 26, 2011. Filed under Carmel Valley. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply



Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6





  • Rancho Santa Fe School to host several Common Core parent information sessions
    The Rancho Santa Fe School District is offering several upcoming information sessions for parents about the Common Core State Standards, which went into effect this fall. All of the information sessions will be held in the Performing Arts Center and will be followed by classroom tours. The dates include: • Sept. 23 at 8:05 a.m. K-5 mathematics curriculum ove […]
  • Rancho Santa Fe School’s Prop 39 projects moving forward
    The Rancho Santa Fe School District will take advantage of funding from Prop 39, the Clean Energy Jobs Act to help make its school more energy-efficient. […]
  • Traffic collision on La Granada in Rancho Santa Fe sends four to hospital
    On Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 2:34 p.m., firefighters from the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District and Encinitas Fire Department responded to the report of a traffic collision on La Granada near the intersection of Rambla de las Flores. When they arrived on the scene, rescue crews found a mid-sized sedan and SUV had collided. Crews quickly worked to extricat […]