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Alert! Hotel Duomo in Orvieto Charges in USD!

Alert! Hotel Duomo in Orvieto Charges in USD!

Jun 7th, 2005, 11:56 AM
  #1  
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Alert! Hotel Duomo in Orvieto Charges in USD!

Having read recent posts here regarding the unsavory practice of European businesses converting euro to enable the customer to pay in USD (dynamic currency conversion), I thought I would post a recent experience at the Hotel Duomo in Orvieto. When I made the reservation, I was quoted 105 euro for a twin-bed room for one night. At check-out, my friend and I each handed the front desk person our credit cards, and he agreed to split the total. My receipt shows a charge of USD 69.34, under that is printed Euro 52, and under that is the notation that 1 EUR = 1.333541 USD. Chatting with my friend, I unknowingly signed the slip before realizing what had transpired. When I politely but firmly requested that I would like to pay in euro, he became agitated and started protesting that he definitely could not reverse the charge. After a few exchanges, I backed off, no longer willing to put a negative spin on an otherwise nice experience at the hotel.

As I continue to read the many posts on the board regarding this practice, I'm no longer willing to remain quiet. If you have any thoughts regarding this, please post them here, and I will send a copy of this thread to the hotel. If anyone is thinking of staying at this hotel you may want to reconsider and change your reservation to a hotel that bills in euro. Maybe if the decision-makers at the hotel are aware that Fodor's Travel Talk has more than 50,000 registered participants, they will decide to cease this deceptive practice.

The bottom line is that for my half of a 105 euro room, I paid not 52 euro, but 69.34 USD. My Visa statement (using an account which only adds 1% for currency conversion) shows a charge of 70.03 USD. I paid about two dollars more for this particular transaction, but if I had stayed longer or had a larger room, the cost would have been higher. I'm not concerned about the small difference in my bill, but I would like to expose this hotel for its deceptive practice. I just checked all of my receipts for the trip, and this was the only charge in USD. If you have been a victim of this scam and wish to let other travelers know, please post the details in a post with the name of the establishment in the title, gather comments and then send a copy to the establishment.

Comments?
Betsy is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 12:42 PM
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I'm getting a bad impression of Italy after reading of these scams. Who wants to have to guard against being cheated by every taxi driver and hotel, let alone the pickpockets? But why in the world would VISA charge you for currency conversion...if the hotel charged in $$$ (albeit at an exorbitant rate)?
victoria_reynolds is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 12:53 PM
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Victoria,
VISA is now charging a 1% fee for all transactions made outside the US even if the transaction is made in US dollars.
You'll find the particulars at http://www.corporate.visa.com/pd/con...x_faq.jsp#faq6 Scroll down that page to: Has Visa changed its fee structure for international transactions?
x_x_x is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 01:20 PM
  #4  
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Visa charges one percent to every foreign transaction for doing IMHO essentially nothing. One percent is charged on every transaction outside the US, no matter if the currency is the euro, the drachma, the British pound, the Swiss Franc or even the US dollar. If the charge is posted in USD in the European Union instead of in euro, the consumer takes a double hit: the exchange rate is always less favorable (sometimes ridiculously so) than if the charge were in euro AND Visa charges an additional one percent. Then, most credit cards add two or three percent on to that!
Betsy is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 01:31 PM
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Something similar happened to us two weeks ago in Sorrento, Italy. I bought small purchases (under 25&euro at two different stores. I was handed a receipt in euros, handed the employee my credit card, the employee ran the card, then I signed the credit card slip without double checking. I am normally fastidious about checking but happened to be distracted both of these times.

The merchant pulled this same scam - they ran the charge through on my credit card in dollars at an exchange rate several cents (up to 5 cents) higher than the bank rate that I would have gotten had they just charged me in euros.

In my case it is a very small amount of money but I was angry at the deception more than anything. To hand me a receipt in euros (I still have it) and then to charge my card in a different currency at a fraudulant exchange rate bothers my sense of honesty.

One of the stores in Sorrento is Gloves, a leather goods store. I will find the name of the other store and list it here.

Fortunately, the hotels charged us in euros. Otherwise (we had some 700€ hotel bills), I'd be raising a huge ruckus about it.
TexasAggie is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 01:31 PM
  #6  
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Hi Betsy,

Unfortunately this DCC problem is not limited to Italy.

The only things to do are to be vigilant, to request that the bill be in euros, and to refuse to accept a bill in dollars.

ira is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 01:40 PM
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I had this happen on recent trip (5/22-5/31)to Spain but I consider it MY FAULT. I knew from this board to be aware of being charged in USD instead of Euro. I didn't allow enough time for checking out of my hotel as I was in a hurry to catch a train. When I was handed my cc receipt it listed the charge in Euro and USD. If I had more time I would have refused to sign and argue the charge because the desk clerk was pretending not to understand. The exchange rate was about 1.29 and since I was in a hurry and felt I had found a bargain price for this 4 star hotel (5 nights for 273E half board double)so I didn't worry too much about it. In case you are interested it was the H10 Hotel Mediterannea in Cap Salou which is part of the H10 chain. www.h10.es

My receipt clearly stated "I have chosen not to use the Mastercard currency conversion process and agree that I will have no recourse againt MC concerning the currency conversion or its disclosure. NO REFUND." Since my card is through my credit union I don't expect to have any other fees to pay.
kybourbon is online now  
Jun 7th, 2005, 01:48 PM
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Agree TexasAggie, it's the deception, not the amount of money. I was really disheartened. Everytime I've been to Italy, I've been amazed at the warmth and friendliness of the Italians. This was like a slap in the face. One would think the Italian tourist board (or its equivalent) and the tourist boards of other countries would move to end the practice pronto. I think travelers are just beginning to be aware of the practice, so maybe threads like this one will eventually help bring this scam to an end.
Betsy is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 02:22 PM
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I looked at my receipt (had the one from Gloves still in my purse) and my receipt had the same disclaimer across the bottom about no recourse against MC and no refund, etc.

So... does this mean that once the merchant has run your card through at his/her fraudulent exchange rate in dollars that you really cannot demand that they reverse (refund) the charge and then charge you correctly in euros??
If that is the case, then it seems that you must first specify that you are to be charged in euros ONLY before even handing over your credit card.

Anyone know more?
TexasAggie is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 04:51 PM
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Of course, it CAN be reversed...before you sign it anyway. Suppose they charged you a completely incorrect amount --say 1000 Euro instead of 100 Euro. Ooops! I can't imagine them saying they can't fix that...Just because they/their management took it upon themselves to try to coerce you into paying more this way; too bad. Let them redo the paperwork. I suppose it is their way of trying to get back at Americans who use "plastic"; they recoup some of the merchant charges they are otherwise responsible for. What it comes down to, is how much of a fuss we're willing to make not to be cheated, how much of a hassle we're willing to endure during what is supposed to be a relaxing vacation, how much we're willing to look like "demanding" Americans in a world that is increasingly anti-American and how much $$ we're talking about (given that the CC companies legally soak us for as much as they can)!
victoria_reynolds is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 05:28 PM
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Dynamic conversion can occur in any currency .
For example, Australians and New Zealanders who travel to Europe have been complaining about being charged in AUD or NZD instead of in Euro. They've talked about not being offered a choice of currency when they're presented with a credit card slip.
They've experienced the same kind of mark up we've been discussing on this board and they are no happier about it than we are.

x_x_x is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 05:44 PM
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The answer seems to be to pay in cash.

It is a shame, but more and more travellers are reporting this "scam" and it is a scam IMO.

I do love Italy but I am disgusted with the charging of credit card invoices in US dollars rather then euros. I will be interested when my daughter & sil return from Rome in about 2 weeks as to what their experience has been.
LoveItaly is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 06:41 PM
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To support LoveItaly's suggestion to pay just in cash - we paid for our entire Italian honeymoon last month (hotels included) in cash. We found this to be easy and stress-free. No surprises, no double-billing, everything straightforward. And even 5% or 10% discounts for paying in cash.

Did we miss out on things like Amex points and rewards? Probably. But using credit cards in Europe isn't free, either. (Plus, we got the discounts at our hotels.) We also feel, mistakenly or not, that the fewer people who see/access our "digits," the safer we'll be from fraud. It's our own peace of mind.

Anyway, thanks to the OP for posting about her experience!
hunnym is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 07:12 PM
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I too agree with LoveItaly, pay in cash. Plus from what I garnered off this site, its cheaper to use the ATM's than your credit card anyways.

Tom
TRSW is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 07:36 PM
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I agree...pay cash and use the ATM's. I have pretty much done this for some time..except for hotels. I think I will extend it to hotels when possible.

I also think I will write to the Visa Cards I use and tell them that I intend to quit using Visa (or MC) cards when traveling internationally.
Not that they will care, but if enough people really did cut down on Visa and MC use, it would be hard on their business.
grayland is offline  
Jun 8th, 2005, 11:00 AM
  #16  
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Topping to go along with a similar thread that's at the top.

This thread does not appear when I click on my user name. I don't think that's ever happened before. Anybody know why?
Betsy is offline  
Jun 8th, 2005, 12:13 PM
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Betsy, after you click on your name, stick the cursor in the lefthand frame and click Refresh. That will probably do it.
WillTravel is online now  
Jun 9th, 2005, 08:02 AM
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I think it is wrong to say that VISA/MC provides no service when DCC is used and the charge is in US Dollars. If they provided no service, the merchant would not have accepted your card. Maintaining a world-wide network to allow us to use plastic virtually anywhere is not cheap, and I don't mind paying for the convenience, because I'm old enough to remember when those services were not available.

My understanding is that the terms of the agreement between VISA/MC and the merchant provides that DCC cannot be used unless the cardholder consents. Those shadowy companies that invented the DCC have been so underhanded that they hid this consenting from so many of us by printing it right on the charge slip that we sign!

I don't know if its our schooling or our character, but it becomes apparent that almost none of us read something before signing it. We post questions here asking how our banks handle currency conversion, when the information has been given to each of us, in writing, by the card issuer. We glibly sign a contract to buy a car or home, only to find out later that we have agreed to some term, in writing, when something goes wrong. We open a brokerage or investment account by signing a contract without reading it, only to find out later that we have given up our right to litigate. We buy and install software on our computers, checking the box that says we agree to the terms of the end user's agreement, without ever reading that agreement. The list goes on and on and on. We are lucky that there are not that many instances where people take advantage of us, when we refuse to take even the simplest steps to protect ourselves.

DCC is spreading throughout the world, so the answer isn't to pick on one or two countries; the answer is to tell the clerk, as you hand over your card, to process the transaction in the local currency.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Jun 9th, 2005, 04:41 PM
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Clevelandbrown - The problem is you don't know this is going to happen until you have already consumed a meal or stayed at the hotel and are ready to pay or leave. I didn't have 273E in cash to pay my hotel bill because I wasn't expecting this to happen and there weren't any ATM's in the area. The employee also pretended not to understand. At that point you don't have much option but to sign the darn receipt. I guess you need to ask when you are checking into your hotel or when you start to get a table at a restaurant.
kybourbon is online now  
Jun 10th, 2005, 04:46 AM
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You have the same options you would have if they billed you 2730 euro: tell them there has been a mistake and demand that they rectify it. If the employee doesn't understand, ask for the manager.

When this scheme started, some people apparently got relief by disputing the charge with VISA/MC on the grounds that they had not been offered the required choice; they reported that the merchant had, in response to the dispute, cancelled the inflated charge and replaced it with a charge in euro. However, if the merchant has your signed statement that you elect to be charged in US dollars, I think it may be hard to contend that you were not offered the option.

I am thinking that European bank's ATMs never make a charge for use the way US bank's ATMs do (for people who don't have their account with that bank), and I have read that this is because a law forbids it. Perhaps the European Union would respond to appropriately addressed complaints and ban DCC!

I'm also curious if US ATM owners are gouging tourists here with this scheme. It's hard to imagine any banker passing up an opportunity to make a little extra.
clevelandbrown is offline  

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