Pizza lovers bemoan delay in purchase charges

Eat at Little Caesars Pizza in January? Better check with the bank.

Thousands of credit and debit card transactions at two Little Caesars Pizza restaurants in Sonoma County were delayed, some as long as nine months.

The glitch, apparently with the bank that processes payments, caused a temporary revenue slump for the franchise owner, an uproar from customers and also may have violated the time limit for valid transactions.

With the art of balancing a bank account having mostly gone the way of the Dodo bird, it was overdrawn accounts, delayed fees and sinking-heart moments at the bank for perhaps thousands of customers who bought pizza at the restaurants in Rohnert Park and Petaluma.

"I just don't know how a business can hold onto transactions that long," said Scott Rostoni, 37, of Petaluma, who last week was hit with $300 in withdrawals stemming from purchases back to February.

Kiersten Percell, 24, of Petaluma was shocked to see her account was overdrawn last week when she deposited a check.

The culprit: eight transactions from Little Caesars Pizza totalling about $130. But Percell hadn't been to the North McDowell Boulevard restaurant in weeks.

"I was furious, I thought Little Caesars stole my debit card information," Percell said.

But the problem stems from the company that processes Little Caesars card transactions, said franchise owner Fred Berry, who owns five Little Caesars in Sonoma County.

Berry said the company he works with to process card transactions is identified on paperwork as Fifth Third Bank based in Cincinnati. A bank representative said the company that processes transactions recently split from the bank and is now called Vantiv, also based in Cincinnati. Vantiv personnel didn't respond to emails or phone calls Wednesday.

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