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xyz123 Aug 23rd, 2009 01:11 PM

DCC in Ireland
Well the dcc scam is getting a trifle better in Ireland....on several occassions I was asked when paying with a credit card whether I wished the charge be run in euro or in US$...saving a bundle. Of course the young lady on the queu in front of me was asked the same question and when she asked the clerk which was better was told US$; so much for honesty.

However, twice they trued to rip me off with this scam. Once at the Everglades Hotel in (London)Derry in Northern Ireland, my bar tab for food and drink was convered from UK£ to US$ at a very unfavorable rate. When I protested, the bar tender instead of voiding the transaction, simply issued a credit. Interestingly enough, although I didn't notice it at first, the charge was for $23.10 and the credit for only $22.89...when the charge was done properly in sterling, it came to $ you can see how they rip you off. I will protest the overcharge of 21¢ if I can do so by free e-mail or by an 800 call...what a bunch of thieves....

Similary on the last day (I was on a tour) I had to open up a credit card account with the hotel to use the vending machine for a soda...when I came to pay, the sales slip was presented to me in US$...I protested that I had not authorized the conversion of the currency the clerk properly voided the transaction and charged me properly in euro. While not an overwhelming amount of money was involved, it was the principle of the matter.

At least, they are asking before they try to rip you off with this scam, at least in many places. Just remember to say no and insist if they pull this garbage that the transaction be voided and not credited.

flanneruk Aug 23rd, 2009 01:47 PM

In a quick trip the other day, <b> every single credit card transaction I had </b> tried to pull DCC.

I'm still not 100% sure the clerks concerned actually understood they were ripping me off. But it's the only country in Europe I've ever had this tried on me, and the charm with which the clerks reversed the transactions did rather imply other UK or US tourists had pointed out the error of their ways to them before.

CAPH52 Aug 23rd, 2009 02:20 PM

During our trip this past June (which included Ireland, the UK and Spain), the only place we were asked how we wanted to charge was in Barcelona. And at no time, anywhere, was anything automatically charged in dollars. A huge improvement over our 2006 trip to Ireland.

flanner, I think you're right about clerks not understanding. On more than one occasion in Ireland clerks have asked me to explain it to them!

Padraig Aug 23rd, 2009 03:03 PM

I think it is frequently the case that the point-of-sale staff do not really understand DCC, and that some genuinely believe that they are offering the customer a useful service. Their employers and managers generally do know that they are getting a cut of the conversion charges, but even some of them might not realise how bad a deal the customer is getting.

xyz123 Aug 23rd, 2009 03:13 PM

The clerks know what they're doing because the terminals are programmed to ask them, "Does the customer wish to pay in US dollars (assuming the card is a US card) is very clear they are supposed to ask.....does customer wish to pay in US dollars...for them to make the assumption that customers wishes to pay in US dollars is well almost criminal.

JAGM Aug 26th, 2009 09:38 AM

I am leaving for Ireland on Sunday. Could you explain DCC to me? I don't understand if it is better to charge the credit card in US$ or euros. Or should I just use cash from the ATM. This is the first I have heard of DCC (what does the acronym stand for?). Thanks.

Michel_Paris Aug 26th, 2009 09:59 AM

You go to a shop and buy something for 100 euro. Instead of billing that amount, they ask if you would like to have that billed in $. Its' a 'convenience' to you. I guess some people have trouble figuring out what 100 euro in $ is.

So, the question is, how do they convert that 100 euro to $?

Well, if you left the bill in local currency at 100 euro, the credit card company would convert it to $ and you would see that on your next bill. Say at that 100 euro would appear as $150.

Well, these people who are being helpful are converting it to $, but at a worst rate. so that 100 euro would now show up on you CC statement at...$160 for example. They pocket some (all?) of that extra $10.

xyz123 Aug 26th, 2009 10:06 AM

DCC is a scam that was introduced in Ireland about 15 years ago and has spread through many areas like a malignancy.

When you use your credit card in a foreign country, the amount in the foreign currency is converted to your currency through the international visa or mastercard system (we will use visa/mc for short). Visa/mc spell out what they do. They use something called the interbank currency rate (it is published daily in the papers and changes by the minute and can be found at the conversion they then add a 1% fee for this "service". Many near criminal banks in the USA (and other places) now add an additional charge of up to 2% making your total 3% above the interbank rate (these banks of course do not perform any service in this regard but the banker hasn't existed who can figure out a way to gouge his customers)...some banks only pass along the 1% visa/mc charge; there are a couple of banks that eat this charge on their credit card accounts (Capital One USA is an example) using a credit card is ALWAYS better than exchanging cash for foreign currency which use rates about 10% above the interbank rates and also sometimes add on other fees.

Now on the merchant side when this happens, they get paid the amount in their currency (let's say for argument sake it's euro)...and they get nothing from the exchange. So the credit card processing companies have come up with a new scam. As a "service" they will convert the currency right on the spot through their credit card point of sale terminal. They advertise this service allows you to know with certainty what the charge is in your currency and they tell the merchants to tell the customers this is a wonderful thing for you. What they don't tell you is they use a rate far worse than does visa/mc, sometimes as much as 5% or more above the interbank rate. So you lose even if your bank charges you the 3% fee (1% from visa/mc and their added 2%). Of course the credit card processor shares the profits from this scam with the merchant.

Now visa/mc require merchants to only pull this scam with the consent of the scamee (you)....but for years, and in some places still, the scam is pulled off without asking. (The POS terminal does ask the merchant if you wish to be scammed oops if you wish to pay in US$ as from the numbers it recognizes the card is a US$ card)....but in many cases the merchant (or their clerks) do not ask and your first indication is when you get the sales slip with both an amount in euro and an amount in your currency. They hope you won't notice and sign the statement saying you accept the transaction as final. The merchant gets paid in euro, the credit card processor arranges to have the transaction enter the credit card system in the country of origin of the credit card bypassing the visa/mc system.

Merchants through the years have been trained to lie if you notice the scam. They tell you things like they have no control over it (wrong, they were asked if you wished to be scammed), the US$ amount is only an approximation, the charge is indeed going through in euro (wrong then why are you being asked to sign a statement that you accept the amount as final), that you are being given a good rate (as we have seen a lie)...or the famous, if outside Ireland or Scotland or the UK, no speak English or it's our store policy and too bad if you don't like it.

So if you receive a sales slip which shows both an amount in euro and an amount in US$, politely ask the merchant that you do not wish to be scammed and want the transaction voided (not credited see my post) and it properly be done in euro. Tell him visa/mc do not allow this scam without your permission. If and when the clerk refuses, ask to see the manager. If they persist in trying to pull this scam, do not offer to pay cash. Rather cross out the US$ amount and instead of signing write local currency not offered. Tell the merchant you will be asking for a chargeback. This should get them to do the right thing and undo the scam.

Finally, to make matters even worse, visa/mc now add on their 1% fee anyway and the near criminal banks add on their 2% fees under the guise that these fees are no longer for currency exchanges but rather for foreign transactions.

So the answer is simple...if you see an amount in US$ on the sales slip, you are being scammed. Just say no.

michelleNYC Aug 26th, 2009 10:15 AM

DCC = Dynamic Currency Conversion

Alec Aug 26th, 2009 10:37 AM

DCC has now entered some ATMs - not in Ireland but certainly in Spain, where some machines (and all ATMs operated by Grupo Santander) ask if you want the transaction to go thru in US$ (YES) or euro (NO). It's easy just to press Yes, but be very alert and always read the screen carefully and press the button/touchscreen for euro.

flanneruk Aug 26th, 2009 12:12 PM

There was no assumption I wanted the transaction charging in sterling.

EVERY single transaction involved the clerk saying: "that'll be xx euro. Would you rather I charged you yy sterling?".

There's not a shred of evidence the clerks knew there was anything dodgy about their suggestion: and if you've ever actually worked in a retail environment (as opposed to pontificating about it), you'd know how many layers of management there are likely to be between the girl at the checkout and the Finance Director who took the decision to install DCC.

Without evidence, attributing malice to the front line is absurd, naive, downright offensive and - worst of all - intellectually sloppy.

Alec Aug 26th, 2009 12:58 PM

But there could have been a management instruction to front-line staff to push DCC - even a staff incentive to back it up?

JAGM Aug 26th, 2009 01:06 PM

Thanks to all for the info. Been to Italy and Peru the past 2 years. Don't think it happened there, but I will be aware in Ireland. Once again, thanks.

xyz123 Aug 26th, 2009 01:20 PM

I was just trying to report the facts....I didn't mean to imply I knew the clerks knew what a scam it is.....but I will say that I have had each of the lies thrown out at me, perhaps as flanner indicates at the behest of management, when I complained about the scam which is why I indicated that if the clerk persists in the lies (he or she might have been told to tell) to ask to see a manager.

xyz123 Aug 26th, 2009 01:29 PM going back and reading one of my replies....what flanner is saying is that I shouldn't blame the clerk as they've been told when the question on the terminal comes up they shouldn't ask and should always press the yes button.....can't argue that I suppose.

Vittoe Sep 30th, 2009 09:01 AM

In September 2008 I noticed all the ATMs I used in Spain (except one) gave me the choice of Dollars or Euro. They also had the screen which had the Yes and No acceptance buttons reversed to decieve you into pushing the wrong button. This year (September 2009) none of the ATMs gave me the Dollar Euro choice and all of my withdrawals were in Euro. This year I used a different ATM card and I wondered if maybe my bank had programed the card not to identify me as an American?

I always present my visa card to a hotel clerk or shopkeeper with the statement, "May I pay in Euro?" and have not had any problem being charged in Dollars since.

Vittoe Sep 30th, 2009 09:05 AM

I once asked a merchant in Spain who spoke very good English if I could watch as she processed my purchase. The purchase process required the merchant to press Enter several times on the little machine she used. The default for the question "Does the customer wich to pay in Dollars?" was Yes so if a merchant or clerk quickly pressed Enter key several times your purchase could be in Dollars very easily.

Shanghainese Sep 30th, 2009 10:26 AM

Thanks for the education on this, I will keep an eye out when we visit Ireland this weekend.

Alec Oct 1st, 2009 05:26 PM

'This year I used a different ATM card and I wondered if maybe my bank had programed the card not to identify me as an American?'

Unlikely. The first 4 digits on your card identify your card issuer. If you hold a card issued by a US financial institution, it should be readily identifiable as such by your card number. Otherwise there is no way an ATM can process any card, like obtaining authorisation from your card issuer.
Maybe the Spanish ATM association has banned DCC? One can only hope!

CAPH52 Oct 2nd, 2009 06:44 AM

The ATM I used in Barcelona in June asked whether I wanted the transaction done in dollars or Euro. I don't remember anything about switched buttons. Which is not to say they weren't.

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