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Dynamic Currency Conversion Scam is in Scotland too

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Aug 12th, 2005, 06:35 AM
  #1
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Dynamic Currency Conversion Scam is in Scotland too

Reporting from Scotland I can now report the cancer of the dynamic currency conversion rip off is alive and well (wll really not well) in Scotland.

On three occassions in the past 2 days, I was subjnected to this despite the fact that before handing over my credit card I said not to pull this garbage on me.

In each case, the clerk claimed they could not prevent it (even though they have to punch the key saying I accept the conversion); on two occassions they claimed the USD amount shown was only an approximation despite the fact I was being asked to sign a statement that I had been offered the opportunity to pay in sterling and that my choice of currency was final.

I refused to sign and demanded the manager come over when the clerk kept insisting she could not avoid this rip off. The manager on each occassion had the unmitigated gall to tell me I was getting the best rate (it was $1.86 yesterday when the interbank rate was $1.79...with a 1% markup my credit card would charge me $1.80....but after much arguing back and forth each one managed to void the transaction and write it up properly in sterling.

When on each occasion I told them they were committing fraud by having the clerk push the button saying I had agreed to this rip off and telling them it was their obligation to tell the customer he was being ripped off by converting the currency, they said they wouldn't do that.

Isn't there someway for visa to police these crooks?
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Aug 12th, 2005, 07:14 AM
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I doubt Visa minds at all. Don't you think Visa is very happy about the merchants pulling this over on unsuspecting tourists? Afterall they are getting their markup based on the transaction amount. So if the amount is higher - gee -- extra profit to visa.

90% of travelers will have no clue DCC is a rip off, and probably even fewer know they can insist which currency to use.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 08:53 AM
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If the core of this is that they are telling a flat lie to obtain money (i.e., telling you you have no choice when you do, and telling Visa that you accept their rate when you don't), it's not up to Visa to police it, it's up to the police: because at one or the other stage, it is an attempt to obtain money by deception. The clerk may not have any personal discretion about it or understanding of the issues, but the manager certainly should, whatever 'company policy' says. I've never met this when using a credit card outside my own country, but if I did I would certainly threaten with the police. And even if that makes them back down, in the UK you could and should report them to the local Trading Standards Office. There must be something in the process by which the company gets whatever financial status it needs to deal with Visa that requires a degree of probity and honesty that this sort of thing invalidates. At the very least, it might be a contravention of the Misleading Prices legislation.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 08:58 AM
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I'm curious as to what establishments are trying to pull this. I'd certainly like to avoid them on my upcoming trip to Scotland.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 09:20 AM
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It happened to me in Ireland in May of last year. First place was the Pro Shop at Ballybunion. After I checked my receipts I found that it happened in heavily concentrated tourist areas/gift shops, i.e. a $100 sweater would cost you $103 if someone used the DCC with you.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 10:22 AM
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I think this is a matter of consumer fraud, also, if they tell lies about the matter (such as that it is only information, and you won't be charged the USD), and if they are saying the customer was given a choice when they weren't. I don't think the policeman on the street usually gets involved with these things, though, although agencies and states' attorneys might.

I'm not sure Visa gains from it, though, but I forget all the gory details. I think Visa's commission may still be based on the local currency.

I haven't traveled in places that do this yet, and hate to have to tell everyone not to charge in dollars when handing over a CC as it rather spoils the mood to be aggressive for no purpose -- but, I was wondering if anyone had heard of this taking place in Canada yet as I'm going there in a few weeks?
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Aug 12th, 2005, 10:32 AM
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No, I haven't heard of it yet in Canada, but I did just get my credit card statement from my recent trip and see that there was a 3% charge on all my Canadian credit card charges. Some here had said recently that they thought that wasn't charged for Canadian charges with a US card, but it certainly was with my Citibank one.

Can someone repeat where to download that official statement that one could carry with you to Europe that explains how you must be given the option to pay in local currency on a charge? It would be nice to have a copy of that to hand over if the issue came up.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 11:36 AM
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Patrick,
You can read VISA's FAQ's on Dynamic Currency Conversion here:
http://www.corporate.visa.com/pd/con...x_faq.jsp#faq5

Judy
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Aug 12th, 2005, 11:44 AM
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I found this link on google.
http://www.planetpayment.com/CurrConv_mer.cfm

"Planet Payment's dynamic currency conversion service provides merchants, across all industry verticals, a powerful tool that will dramatically impact the bottom line – both by closing more international sales and earning a commission on each DCC transaction."

Notice the screen "DID CUSTOMER CONSENT TO DCC PARTICIPATION?"
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Aug 12th, 2005, 01:45 PM
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I'll keep on the alert, in any case, especially since my own cards don't have a fee except the one pct Visa one.

My cards' disclosures all refer to these kind of charges as "foreign currency charges" or something, I don't know why Canada would be exempt. My cards don't exempt any country by name.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 02:08 PM
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Christina, the "Foreign currency charge" is not the same as dynamic currency conversion. All card issuers impose some charge for conversion, i.e., when the transaction is done in Euros, Visa charges something for its conversion of the charge into dollars.
With DCC the conversion is done by the merchant and Visa does no conversion. However, some card issuers impose their "foreign" fee for all foreign TRANSACTIONs, including those converted to dollars by the merchant. In that case, the bank adds its 2 percent to the amount that was already inflated for the the merchant to take his gravy of 2 or 3 percent.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 03:01 PM
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I think some of you are missing a basic point. Dynamic currency conversion can't be done without your knowledge of it being done at the time. You HAVE to sign a charge slip and when it comes to you it should be in the local currency. If it isn't, but is in dollars instead -- then you're a victim and you need to put up a fuss. So long as you have a copy of the original bill in the local currency which you signed -- they can't change it later.

Meanwhile, maybe the best bet is, if they make a huge issue, pick up the slip unsigned and start to walk out without signing and giving them a copy. Maybe they'll call the police and the police can then arrest the ones who are really doing the illegal and fraudulent activity -- the restaurant manager. Of course, I realize I'm only dreaming -- but in theory it sounds good.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 03:22 PM
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I would like to make a modest suggestion. If it is a hotel, review it on tripadvisor.com or [if listed] on fodors or venere.com including the currency scam info. The same if it is a restaurant. If enough of you who have been hit by this scam do that someone might take notice. I would also report the establishments to both your visa card issuer and the main visa corporation. So far I haven't been hit, but if you have, there are some powerful internet tools available for you to get the word out and have some effect.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 03:30 PM
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DCC is spreading all over the UK. I have run into in England and Scotland, hotels primarily. I was successful in getting the bill redone in £ in England at the hotels that pulled it (after much fuss). The Scotland one, the clerk claimed that no choice was given to him and only USD came up. I showed him that the charge slip stated that I was given a choice and had accepted the conversion rate used. He said he couldn't redo it and no manager was around. However, he did refund the amount charged in cash (&pound as a way to cancel the charge (small bill).

I was not given a choice. Even when I asked to be charged in £. FYI, the rates used in my DCC attempts were 10˘ higher than the official rate.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 05:06 PM
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I'm not a lawyer but I am a passionately patriotic Scot who takes it as a slap in the face when any hotel or other establishment tries to XXXX on our reputation for hospitality by ripping off visitors. Assuming you are in a party of more than one (in Scots Law, two testimonies are needed to establish any fact) my advice would be:- before you go in to any hotel, restaurant etc, check what cards they advertise as accepting. Before you commit to a booking, or to ordering a meal, ask if you can have your card charged in the currency of your choosing, and ask for the exchange rate. You are now in charge. When the time comes to pay, offer to pay with the previously agreed card in the previously agreed currency. Make sure the person who was with you when you agreed the ground rules is also present when you offer to pay. If you get any XXXX, say in these exact words "My bill for services from your establishment is XXX pounds sterling. You previously agreed in the presence of witnesses that I could settle this bill using my (card details) and in (currency) at an exchange rate of XXX. I hereby offer to make full settlement in the agreed terms. Do you accept?" If they accept, OK. But as soon as you get home, write to the manager of the establishment, the chief executive of the parent company (usually obtainable via internet search) and the Trading Standards Department of their local council to complain about the attempted scam. Also, please, post the full details on this and any other boards you can think of, and write to all the guide books you ever heard of, to make sure they never get another recommendation anywhere.
If, on the other hand, your offer to pay in the previously agreed currency and by the previously agreed card is not accepted, you have got yourself a free meal / hotel room etc. Take care to say, before you leave, "I have offered to settle my bill in accordance with our contract. You have declined payment on behalf of the supplier. Our contract is therefore concluded." And walk out. They haven't a snowball's chance in hell of winning a civil action against you, because you offered to pay in full and they refused. If they try to stop you, remind them that you have committed no criminal offence and that if they physically restrain you they are guilty of criminal assault (and if they refuse to hand over luggage etc that you left for safe keeping, it's theft). (If they try to call yur bluff by phoning the police, stand your ground. Tell the police, and get others in your party to confirm, that you have at all times offered to pay the bill in full as agreed before you accepted the room / table etc. 99.9% certain the establishment will then agree to accept your payment. THEN you ask the police to accept a formal complaint of attempted fraud, seeking to gain payment on false pretences, demanding payment with menaces (aka blackmail) etc. The establishment will find it very difficult to explain why they refused your original offer to pay according to the original contract, unles they were guilty of one of these offences.
Please please please please please, anyone who encounters this unlawful behaviour anywhere in Scotland, write to the boss of the parent company, write to the Scottish Tourist Board, write to the Head of Trading Standards at the Council where the establishment is situated, write to their local newspaper, post the details here and anywhere else you can think of.... basically, give them as much bad publicity as you can, and then some. These bandits are a tiny minority of Scotland's tourism industry, but they are a cancer that the vast majority of honest traders don't want. If your letter causes enough cancellations to drive them out of business, you will have done us a huge favour.
To repeat - Scotland is justifiably proud of our reputation for hospitality. The huge majority of visitors will never be subjected to an attempted rip-off. The authorities will take decisive action against the minority who give our country a bad name - but only if you tell them who the crooks are.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 05:31 PM
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Budman - that graphic is soooo kewl!

http://www.planetpayment.com/images/dynamicCurrConv.jpg

I'm going to print it out, laminate it, and carry it with me everywhere I travel.

The part of that page I like the best is

Planet Payment's DCC service provides a powerful incentive for international travelers to choose your establishment for their next purchase.

Yeah...right.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 06:33 PM
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I haven't encountered this yet, but I will be vigilant on our upcoming trip to England.

Has it happened to anyone in Paris yet? Because I can argue anyone under the table (just ask Phil Flash) but I don't think my French is up to the task.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 07:33 PM
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Craigellachie, bless your heart, you've got it all wrong. You don't have to prove anything, and you don't need a witness. The practice isn't illegal; it's a violation of the merchant's agreement with the card network. The following is a verbatim quote from the Visa web site.

Visa requires that you are provided a meaningful choice at the point of sale and you have the right to buy your purchase in the local currency so that you do not incur any additional fees the merchant may assess.

Here is the URL:

http://www.corporate.visa.com/pd/consumer_ex_faq.jsp#faq5

As a consumer, you can cross out the dollar amount, print CHOICE OF CURRENCY NOT OFFERED on the charge slip where it can't be cut off, and dispute it when you get your credit card bill. The card issuer will back-charge the merchant for the difference and credit it to your account.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 09:55 PM
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There is a post somewhere in the last few days giving you the url for an excellent article in the washington post. I have forgotten the topic line unfortunately.
The gist of the article is that the impetus for dynamic conversion comes from the firms with NO connection to visa who sell the pos equipment and the card processing service. this assumes we are all suckers.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 11:06 PM
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I think everyone might find the following links interesting:

http://www.shift4.com/DCC.cfm

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...072900927.html

http://www.btnmag.com/businesstravel..._id=1000946779
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