DES MOINES, Iowa (Dow Jones News) — Thousands of Walgreen Co. customers who shopped at the big drugstore chain one day last week may be scratching their heads when they get their next credit-card bills.
Any purchase made with a credit or bank check card at a Walgreen's in the United States on Aug. 16 will show up twice on their statements — along with a credit voiding one of the charges. Debit-card charges aren't affected.
A Walgreen's spokesman acknowledged Friday that because of "human error" a computer file containing all credit-card purchases for that day was processed twice. So, "tens of thousands" of customers will receive charge-card statements with the double-billing and single credit.
The company couldn't say how many purchases, or their total dollar amount, were involved. But the average Walgreen's store does about $6 million in sales annually, or $16,438 a day. And since it has 3,118 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, some $50 million in sales could have been double-billed.
The average non-prescription sale at a Walgreen's is around $10, the company said.
Contending there was "no way for us to proactively notify people," the big chain hasn't made a public announcement of the goof, choosing to let customers discover it themselves when they receive their next monthly American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa statement.
The company spokesman said the error occurred while a computer technician was trying to fix an unrelated problem on Aug.17. A file containing all the collected charges from the chain the day before was retransmitted to an outside firm that processes charges. That firm notified Walgreen's that it had received a duplicate file.
Three days later, on Aug. 20, Walgreen's sent a credit for each charge to the processor, to be passed on to banks and others who prepare monthly charge statements.