Warning: Cash lanes only if you have an AIB debit card

Pricewatch: Glitch between AIB and French toll operators set to cause more traffic jams

AIB is well aware of the problem with its debit card at French toll booths and has been since last October. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

AIB is well aware of the problem with its debit card at French toll booths and has been since last October. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire


Eoin O’Meachair asked if he could recount his experience travelling in France on the autoroute system.

“I am an AIB customer and, as required to facilitate ease of financial transactions, logged my travel arrangement dates when I would be abroad and the nominated country well in advance of departure. All went to plan until I attempted to pay the toll fee on the autoroute,” he says.

He entered the designated lane which accepts payment by card. “Three times in succession my AIB Visa debit card was rejected by which time six vehicles were stalled behind me. I sought assistance from the toll operator via the ‘help’ button on the pay machine and was informed that the bank had declined my card and I should proceed to a designated cash lane to pay the appropriate fee.

“You can imagine how cordial a reception I received from the half-dozen drivers behind me who now had to reverse against the flow of traffic to allow me enter the alternate ‘cash’ lane.”

Once he had done that and paid the fee, he pulled into the rest area lay-by and rang the AIB card services number on the reverse of the card, the number to be used in case of difficulty or to report theft.

“I was very politely informed that AIB is well aware of this problem and has been so since last October when it first surfaced. It is a glitch between whatever system the French toll operator uses and the AIB debit card system and only occurs at toll barriers,” he says. “As ever, the innocent customer is caught in the crossfire.

“It beggars belief that this matter has failed to be rectified for six months and, with the spring-summer holiday season beckoning, many other unsuspecting AIB clients will find themselves in the same invidious position as I experienced last week,” he says.

We contacted AIB and received the following statement:

“In order to better protect customers a requirement of the Payment Services Directive (PSD2) from September 2019 is for Card Issuers to stop accepting Magnetic Stripe transactions in the European Economic Area. AIB switched off its Magnetic Stripe capability in September 2019, in line with the regulatory requirements.

“However, AIB (like all Card Issuers) is dependent on the whole Cards ecosystem also moving from Magnetic Stripe to Contactless or Chip and Pin. It appears that there are a small number of European toll road operators who have not switched over from Magnetic Stripe. Unfortunately this issue will persist until the merchants convert. This is a matter for the acquirer of the toll road company and not one that AIB has control over.

“We have confirmed that this customer’s transactions were declined as they were Magnetic Stripe transactions. We acknowledge that the customer was not given a clear enough explanation when they called AIB and are implementing changes to the response that is provided to customers in circumstances such as this.”