Speaking from over the other side of the pond what on earth is this "hold on checking account" being mentioned if trying to pay by debit card? Backward we may be in some ways but to my knowledge this is impossible under UK banking law and quite rightly so; I am not giving anyone carte blanche to put a hold on my bank account (with the exception of the manager and he doesn't need my permission!) and suggest that the US adopts the same policy - just an idea if someone would care to mention it to George W!!!
I always pay by credit card (unless it had already suffered meltdown) so it really doesn't concern me.