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Dear ABC News Fixer: A brace weeks ago I bought my son and daughter-in-law a Visa allowance agenda for their anniversary. It was a $50 agenda and I paid a $4.95 acquirement fee. On the agenda holder anorak there was a apprehension that read: “No fees afterwards purchase.”

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My son and daughter-in-law acclimated the agenda at a restaurant. Aback they paid their bill, they were told that the agenda was alone annual $42. The server told them that Visa allowance cards booty about 20 percent off the top but had no added explanation.

My son no best has the agenda – they larboard it at the restaurant, addition it was absolutely used.

My catechism is: Area did that 20 percent go? The holidays are coming, and gift-giving is on people’s minds.

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– Carol Humble, Glen Ellyn, Ill.

Dear Carol: Yikes. Amid the acquirement fee and the 20 percent, you spent $54.95 for this $42 gift.

A acquirement fee of $4.95 would accept been abundant for the ABC News Fixer to atom the allowance agenda and buy article else.

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As for the missing $8, we were mystified, until we heard about “tip tolerance.” This allegedly happens aback consumers use acclaim card-branded allowance cards at businesses area gratuities are expected, such as a restaurant or a salon.

The business, understandably, wants to accomplish abiding the agenda has abundant to acquiesce for a tip. Many of these merchants use processing systems that will pre-authorize an added 20 percent aloft the bulk of the bill. That’s the tip tolerance. If there’s abundant banknote to pay the bill additional 20 percent, the transaction proceeds. Once the final bulk is ample out – maybe the customer alone capital to tip 15 percent, or maybe he or she absitively to tip in banknote – that exact bulk of money is deducted from the card. If the preauthorized 20 percent tip wasn’t used, the money would eventually go aback on the agenda aback the transaction clears.

Your son and daughter-in-law’s banquet tab was about $160. We alleged Visa, and a agent said the restaurant should accept been able to abstain its accustomed processing arrangement and aloof administer the abounding $50 allowance agenda to the bill.

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We are academic the server aboriginal handled the allowance agenda and entered in $42 additional 20 percent – not demography into annual that they’d be application a additional anatomy of acquittal to pay the blow of the bill and the tip.

The added $8 eventually would accept gone aback on the agenda afterwards the transaction cleared. So it’s too bad they were told the agenda was acclimated up, which is why they larboard it at the restaurant.

We’ve heard of added cases in which ashamed diners had their acclaim agenda allowance cards alone because they were too aing to the limit. In best cases, consumers can abstain this tip-tolerance bounce by cogent the server advanced of time that they plan to tip in cash. For bigger transactions, it’s annual acquainted that some merchants won’t let you breach a transaction amid a allowance agenda and a acclaim card. In that case, you’ll accept to allegation the accomplished affair and use the allowance agenda for article else.

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Consumers should be alert at gas stations, too, back some pumps automatically pre-authorize $50 to $75, alike if you’re alone planning to buy $25 in gas. Consumers with acclaim card-branded allowance cards should go central and accept the accountant alone accredit the exact bulk they ambition to pump.

Bottom line: Though they attending like acclaim cards, these allowance cards behave differently. To abstain an awkward situation, apperceive your allowance agenda antithesis and allocution to an agent or administrator afore presenting it for payment.

– The ABC News Fixer

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Listen to this ABC News Fixer adventure on the ABC News Radio annual “Perspective,”airing this weekend on your bounded ABC affiliate.

Got a customer problem? The ABC News Fixer may be able to help. Click actuality to abide your botheration online. Letters are edited for breadth and clarity.

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