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US customers hit with expensive bill for fast food

SANTA PAULA, California--What was supposed to be a cheap bite at a Mexican-style fast food restaurant turned out to be small fortune for some Southern California customers.

About 150 people who `ordered this week at a Del Taco restaurant in Santa Paula, 65 miles (105 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles, were mistakenly charged thousands of dollars for burritos, tacos and soft drinks.

Customer Michael Cole said he was surprised when he was charged US$4,050 for one CrunchTada Pizza and two beef tacos. He discovered the error Friday when he tried to withdraw US$20 from an ATM and was denied.

“I don't even think I've spent that much in the last five years,” Cole said.

The cause of the technical error was unknown, but it affected ATM and credit-card transactions at one Del Taco restaurant.

“The processor is aware of the situation and has contacted banks involved,” Del Taco spokesman Brian Devenny told the Ventura County Star newspaper. “They are working together to get these charges reversed as quickly as possible.”

Devenny said all charges will be refunded.

Another customer, Dino DeLaO, said his wife paid US$10.20 for a meal and ended up being charged US$10,200. DeLaO said the mistake caused his mortgage check to bounce, and he was afraid it would affect other bills.

Austin Dillon said it wasn't hard to erase the charge. He bought US$4.26 worth of food earlier this week that turned out to be US$4,260.

“It's kind of obvious because it was Del Taco,” he said.

As for Cole, who was billed US$4,050, he still thinks highly of the food and service at his local Del Taco.

“It's not going to deter me from coming back,” he said. “I'll probably use cash from now on.”

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