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Dynamic currency conversion in France

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May 30th, 2012, 10:42 AM
  #1
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Dynamic currency conversion in France

I've been to Paris 3 times in the last 5 years (and twice before that) and had never run across it there until our trip two weeks ago. La Maison Ivre, a shop I've been to several times that sells pottery, etc, charged us in U.S. dollars. My husband paid for the transaction, and unfortunately, we didn't notice until I looked at the receipt back at the hotel. Not sure if we've just been lucky in the past, but in case this is becoming more common in Paris, be on the lookout!
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May 30th, 2012, 10:51 AM
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people are always looking for ways to make money, it's too bad this method is creeping into so many places, it is really despicable IMO. It has no purpose other than to extract money out of people and was designed for that. Anyway, it's good to keep an eye out now in France, apparently. I've encountered it in Spain mostly.
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May 30th, 2012, 02:08 PM
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DCC is an absolute scam and anyplace that attempts to force this on their customers should be avoided.

Unfortunately, Visa and MC changed their customer agreements about one year ago and will now still charge you a currency conversion fee in spite of the fact that you paid in dollars.
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May 30th, 2012, 02:35 PM
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You do NOT have to bypass a place that TRIES to use DCC. By agreement with the cc issuer you MUST be offered the opportunity to pay in local currency. If the merchant refuses you tell them you are going to write on THEIR copy of the receipt that the opportunity to pay in local currency was DENIED and that when you get home you are going to dispute the bill. Believe me, there will be this rather sudden turnaround in behavior.
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May 30th, 2012, 02:44 PM
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I was in Paris earlier this month and was offered DCC many more times than on previous trips, even in Galeries Lafayette (where I don't recall it happening before.
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May 30th, 2012, 03:05 PM
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I don't mean to come across as rude and let me apologize right at the start but......

don't you check the sales receipts before you sign them and read what you're signing? I look closely at evcery sales slip to make sure the amount is right (even the most honest of merchants can make a mistake in entering the amount although quite frankly I've never seen a lower amount accidentally entered). But I do agree, dcc has been relatively infrequently pulled in both France and in the UK but is now appearing more and more often.

Do remember, friends, if you are presented a visa or mastercard sales slip (to their eternal creit, Amex does not allow DCC) that has both an amnount in local currency and the amount in your currency, remember the sage advice of Nance Reagan. Just say NO (or non en francais or nein in Germany)....no matter what lies you are told (some of them are the amount in your currency is just listed for your convenience or they have no control over it that it is done automatically by the terminal or it cannot be reversed or the famous no speak English, politely ask to see the manager. If they refuse to change it, do not under any circumstances commit to paying cash. Simply circle the amount in local currency, cross out the agreement saying you were offered the opportunity to pay in local currency and accept the amount as converted and write local currency not offered and initial it. Tell them you intend to dispute the charge and when the bill arrive, dispute it. Your bank must charge it back to the merchant and the merchant will be charged a fee for the chargeback and in this time of a falling euro, you might come out ahead.

I have had to do this twice. One time a Burger King in Dublin refused to void (note that since the way the credit cards work you don't want a credit, you want the transaction voided as when a bank has one of those near criminal foreign transaction fees, it is added to purchase but subtracted from a credit, another bank rip off) the transacton and my €7 charge was close to 42¢ more expensive than it should have been and you might say no big deal but it's the principle of the matter to me so I disputed the charge after doing what I said above. Unfortunatey, my bank did not charge it back to the merchant but simply credited my account for the difference.

This is a cancer spreading through the travelling world and forewarned is forewarned. Just say NO.
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May 30th, 2012, 03:17 PM
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A while ago, at a duty free shop at Munich airport, a lady in front of me bought something with a US credit card. The cashier asked if she wanted to pay in dollars or euros. The lady asked what the purpose of this was. And the cashier told her straight in the face: "it's just a scam of the cc companies to make some extra money. It's cheaper when you have the transaction done in euros". That was quite refreshing honesty.
Nevertheless, DCC is not a scam exclusive to the euro zone. I got that "option" to pay in euros in Switzerland as well as in Washington DC. I guess it's everywhere now.
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May 30th, 2012, 03:36 PM
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So we're all clear on this....

It is distressing reading the literature put out by some of the payment entities to merchants telling them the virtues of dcc...how it is a service desired by clients who know with certainty what a purchase will cost (a simple small calculator will do quite nicely thank you and most mobile phones now have calculator apps) and of course very secondarily to boost merchants' profits.

Luckily nobody has ever come on this board trying to defend this scam although many are simply not knowledgeble and yes, of course, Americasn merchants try to pull this garbage on European and Japansese and Australian and Canadian visitors also. Just look for two amounts on the credit card slips and just say NO (but don't pay cash; follow my advice and eventually we can put an end to this scam if we all do the right thinhg).
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May 30th, 2012, 03:48 PM
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I have never had an experience where I wasn't asked whether I wanted my purchased charged in euros or dollars. I've always had the opportunity to decline DCC.
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May 31st, 2012, 11:18 AM
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well, I have, in Barcelona (not been asked). A lot of places seem to automatically ring your charge up in whatever country your card indicates or however they figure it out. I wasn't expecting it as it was just a museum and foolishly, I sort of thought merchants would be trying to pull that stuff, not a nonprofit museum.

IN any case, I did notice it, actually, when everything was rung up, and I could have refused and made everything be re-done, I suppose, but I was in a hurry and so let it slide that one time (with a note to be more on the watch during my trip elsewhere) as it was only about a 10 euro ticket so I knew the extra percent wouldn't amount to too much. I wouldn't have just paid for it if it had been an expensive item in a shop or a meal in a restaurant.
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May 31st, 2012, 11:33 AM
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Judy: You've been lucky so far. We had it happen in Madrid and Sevilla, Spain. I saw what they had done and had to listen to the whole list of lies they tell you: "It's to your advantage," "We can't change it once we've entered it,"I don't know how to cancel credit card purchases," "the machine does this automatically with foreign cards," etc.

Finally got both charges reversed. In one case they miraculously figured out how to charge me in euros. In the other they demanded cash, so we just gave them the merchandise back.

I complained to MasterCard when we got home. About a week later I got a call from MC asking me for the details. They told me they would contact the merchants to "educate" them on proper procedures. I told MC rep that I appreciated their efforts, but that I didn't think it was an education problem.

We also ran into DCC in Switzerland, but in every case they did ask us first so we were able to refuse the "service."
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May 31st, 2012, 11:34 AM
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....and that's why they get away with it. People let them. No matter how small an amount it seems, it's important to just say NO and do make them re-do the transaction properly.
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May 31st, 2012, 11:53 AM
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In Ireland, the charge machine did the DCC thing automatically and the clerk on duty had no idea how to override it. I had them void the transaction and paid cash but it is possible that the WORKER you're dealing with won't be able to charge you in the local currency, if their machine is set up to charge a transaction in yours.
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May 31st, 2012, 12:03 PM
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For the first time, last week in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland at an ATM, we were given the option of being charged in US dollars or CHF. As my husband was about to hit the button for US dollars, the DCC thing popped in my head and I stopped him. Did I do the right thing in this circumstance also?
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May 31st, 2012, 12:30 PM
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To michele...most assuredly you did the right thing.

To Monica...the solution is not to use cash; it just encourages the merchants to continue ripping off people. If they refuse to void the transaction, it's very simple...

1. Circle the amount in local currency on the charge receipt and cross out the USD (or whatever your currency amunt is)..

2. Write local currency not offered, initial it and sign the receipt.

3. When you get home dispute the charge.

Visa/mc are required to charge back the transacton to the merchant, perhaps hopefully fine the merchant and I know your transaction was in CHF but perhaps (although this of course can go either ay, it can work out the other way too admitedly) take advantage of the falling euro.

It has worked for me on several occasions.
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May 31st, 2012, 02:09 PM
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I believe merchants are required to ask you if you want to pay in Euros or Dollars. Once they've swiped your card and entered the purchase amount, the amount in Euros and the amount in Dollars appears on the screen. You can insist on paying in Euros.

If the transaction is processed in Dollars, you can easily tell and insist that the transaction be reprocessed or cancelled.

Your husband may have been asked in French and nodded in the affirmative. (My husband does this all the time with no clue as to the question.)
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May 31st, 2012, 03:01 PM
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djkbooks....you are absolutely correct. Visa and mastercard merchant agreements require that the scamee be adv ised of the scam before being subjected to it. Unfortunaely as has been noted, oftentimes they are not and many merchants lie when caught in the scam and refuse to rectify it. In that case, follow my advice above.
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May 31st, 2012, 03:24 PM
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I experienced the DCC at an airport (Manchester, UK) ATM in April. The name on the machine was Raphaels Bank.

I don't remember the exact wording, but it was Extremely persuasive that I ought to accept the conversion price and not select a button for "non-converted" funds.

I was 99.9% sure it was the DCC, but the wording was so good it made me doubt myself, even though I did select non-converted.

Conversion price: 1.68
Non-converted (once I got my statement at home to see): 1.58
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May 31st, 2012, 04:04 PM
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scotlib is right: A clever wording or clever design can lure even cautious travellers into this trap.

At Zurich airport, the machines at check-out give you the option between CHF and your home currency.
But on the display you have to touch to select (so at least you DO get to choose), the home currency virtual button has a bright color and is three times larger than that for CHF which is in dull black and white.
So I guess that many people think that big and bright button is the one to choose or is the default/normal way to pay.
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Jun 5th, 2012, 01:23 PM
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This is all very helpful and insightful advice. Thanks!
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