The $10,000 Taco

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — How many tacos can you buy for $10,000? This week at a Del Taco in Santa Paula, Calif. the answer turned out to be three, maybe four, and a side of guacamole.

According to the Associated Press, last week approximately 150 customers at the southern California location of the popular restaurant chain ended up getting charged thousands of dollars for their meals when something went wrong with debit and credit card transactions.

It appears that the error multiplied the value of orders by 100. Customer Dino DeLaO reported to the AP that when his wife ordered a $10.20 meal, they ended up paying $10,200, while Austin Dillon, another customer, spent $4.26 and paid $4,260.

By way of comparison, a taco at Del Taco costs $1.70 plus tax.

The cause of the technical problem remains unknown, but it was restricted to the one Del Taco location. According to a spokesman, the company has contacted the banks involved and will make sure that all charges get refunded.

Unfortunately, merely refunding the world's most expensive taco platter can't necessarily solve everything.

An overdrawn checking account causes real problems and expense even if the original withdrawal is unwound. Not only does that thousand dollar taco come with overdraft fees, but the bank will impose overdraft charges on every transaction after the customer's checking account hits zero.

Making matters worse, most banks prioritize large spending. On a list of pending charges from the past week, many of the effected customers will see their account first cleaned out by a steak burrito, followed by $25 to $35 charges for every other debit card transaction regardless of when those transactions actually took place. As long as they all exist in the pending transaction queue simultaneously, the bank can apply charges in whatever order it chooses, and many attempt to maximize fees.