I filed a Better Business Bureau complaint because they kept insisting that it was a bank issue. All I asked was that I be re-imbursed for the overdraft fee caused by the way they were running the card.
The response was as follows:
Ms. kikayume incurred charges of $72.43 in food and beverage on check # 3557 on Dec 29, 2006. Ms. kikayume used a $30 gift card for a portion of her purchases which reduced her balance to $42.43. The server performed a swipe with her debit card which was processed electronically and given the authorization code of 484176 for the amount of $42.43. This creates a "hold" by the bank not the merchant on these funds. Ms. kikayume added a tip of $15.00 for service, based on her entire check of $72.43. When the server entered the $15.00 tip 35.4% of authorized amount on the check prior to closing out the check check payment settlement,because the amount of the tip exceeded VISA's limit of 20% above the authorized amount, the bank automatically created an authorization code for the $15 which was 415024. When the batch was sent, the total for that transaction properly showed $57.43. We did nothing in-house to alter this in any way. When the bank received the $57.43 charge it did not recognize that this was the two original "holds" for $42.43 +$15.00 and therefore did not release that hold until after 3 banking days had passed, which I believe is their industry standard. This occurred over a week-end and January 1st holiday, which is why Ms. kikayume saw this 5 calendar days later. At no time did Texas Steakhouse have the additional "hold" funds nor have access to them. As I understand it, the "hold" did drop off according to the cardholder's bank policy. The precipitating factor that led to this was the tip that exceeded the 20% limit set by VISA based on the settlement amount that had changed from the original authorization. I am certain that Ms. kikayume was recognizing the good service that the server gave her and that the server much appreciated her gesture, but because the gift card had to be used as a form of payment first, the tip percentage created this additional step. VISA recognizes a restaurant transaction because of the merchant code and recognizes that in the restaurant environment, there can be a tip adjustment from the original authorized amount. They set that limit at 20% without the need for additional authorization. VISA also recognizes a retail transaction and does not allow for any change from the authorized amount without authorization.
So basically, it's VISA merchant policy to authorize for tips over 20%, which I tend to do when the service is excellent (I like to round up to round numbers). So, I guess the bad service is that none of their managers in store know this policy (since all of them told me it was my bank), and that they don't have any notices about this up, or even just at tiny line printed on their credit card holders when they drop off
ETA: (because I forgot) Their letter also entirely ignored my actual complaint, which happened in early February, and instead went into detail about the first incident, which I specified was an inconvenience, but did not cost me anything in fees.