Ireland - Credit Card Scam

May 27th, 2005, 01:34 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 54
Ireland - Credit Card Scam

We are 1/3 of the way through a 23 day tour of Ireland and as per Budman's earlier email, the Irish Credit Card Rip Off" is alive and well. Similar experiences although we are from Australia and if we do not insist they automaticlly convert from Euros to A$. In one place (Quills Kenmare), the insisted they "could not charge me in Euros", so reluctantly paid cash. In another O'Donabhain's pub/restaurant in Kenmare, he reluctantly voided my earlier A$ bill and rang it up in Euro's with the uncessary comment "You should pay in cash". A tip which we would have left was obviously not forthcoming !! If this happens in Restaurants, a good way to claw back the exchange is NOT TO TIP. I am seriously considering contacting the Irish tourism industry re this blatant tourist rip off which in the end might provide a short term upside to banks and merchants but will in the end damage the Irish tourist trade.
robbieb is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 04:12 AM
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Thanks for letting us know. I live in Ireland and this just infuriates me. I have not heard of this before and its so typical of how greedy people are getting. Many small business prefer cash but this is a joke. I would write to the tourism board and mention each place this happened.

This is the first year things are even busier since Sept 11th and this type of thing will keep people from coming back It's a disgrace.

I hope your holiday was good other than these two instances.

SiobhanP is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 01:14 PM
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Hi robbieb, evidently places in Italy are starting to do this also. Yes it is a scam. And I imagine the average traveller is not aware of it. Thanks to post here on Fodor's we are.

Not leaving a tip, that is good!! And writing the Irish Tourist Board would be a good idea also. Hopefully everyone that has this problem will do this.

I was also thinking. If travellers all report via a new thread on which establishments do this, wait a few day for other to post their outrage and disgust at this practice and then email the thread to the mentioned establishment (if they have an email address of course) maybe that would jar the decision makers at these establishments a bit. It sure couldn't hurt.
LoveItaly is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 01:22 PM
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You have no idea how grateful I am for this advice, Budman. My husband noted it on our last visit to Ireland, but I discounted it.

I will make sure that when we check in this time around, we shall make sure we are billed in Euros. Thank you.
May 27th, 2005, 01:34 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 292
I am chronicalling (?) our recent trip to Ireland and have all of my saved VISA receipts to help track the trip. Only now that we're home did I notice how many times we were charged in Dollars not Euros. We even knew about this from this board before we went and many times when we realized, asked that they redo the much shaking of heads at how foolish we were. None-the-less I can blame it on vanity and not alway wearing our (read: husband's) glasses, I am amazed how many times this happened dispite our vigilance. Be aware.
marshacarlin is offline  
May 30th, 2005, 10:18 AM
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In Dingle now and seems the general solution is to ensure you request billing in Euro's up front when you present your credit card. Apart from the incident in Kenmare, seems to work ok... Apart from this having a great trip. Some controversy in Dingle though where they have totally changed the name to the Gailic An Daingean (spelling may be wrong). Seems the good old politicans have totally put everybody off side for one reason or another and even the name they have chosen is not the accepted local Irish language equivalent.
robbieb is offline  
May 30th, 2005, 11:38 AM
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Hi robbieb, I am glad that you are having better luck with getting the credit card charges made in Euro. I read about the Dingle name change and how upset some people were. Anything to confuse travellers more I guess, LOL. Have a beautiful and safe trip.
LoveItaly is offline  
May 30th, 2005, 11:56 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Just so everyone is clear on this:

Not offering a choice of currencies is a violation of Visa Operating Rules

Here is the chapter and verse from Visa. Print it out and take it with you:

If a merchant refuses to run the charge in local, write on the receipt above your signature "LOCAL CURRENCY BILLING NOT OFFERED" and inform the merchant that you intend to notify Visa of their practice. Then follow through.

We can put a stop to this predatory practice!
Robespierre is offline  
May 30th, 2005, 12:06 PM
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Not leaving a tip is akin to killing the messenger when you don't like the message. It is management that has the wait staff do this; so a more effective solution would be to boycott the establishment, or the country.

Actually, paying in cash might not be a bad option, but I would ask for a discount, as they would be saving the fees they have to pay to the credit card companies.
clevelandbrown is offline  
May 30th, 2005, 12:10 PM
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I haven't met this scam before. Would it work, before accepting a table / buying souvenirs etc, to say that you want to be billed in your own currency? Then if they refuse, you tell them they have lost the sale AND you're reporting them to VISA (and of course to Fodor's).
I always think it's better if someone trying to rip off customers is told right there and then that they are losing trade as a result.
Craigellachie is offline  
May 30th, 2005, 12:22 PM
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This isn't just happening in Ireland.

At least one DDC (Dynamic Currency Conversion) model that I've seen prompts the user (the merchant) to confirm the choice of currency for the transaction, so chances are excuses like 'they [we] can't charge you in Euro' (what? they can't charge you in the legal currency of the country??!!) are pure nonsense.

Equally as bad, in fact worse, are banks that threaten to automatically add 1 to 3 per cent or whatever to any charges made outside the country that have *already been converted*. When money is taken in respect of neither good nor service tendered, it is theft, and the government should declare it as such.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
May 30th, 2005, 12:36 PM
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Search fodors, it's also happening in Italy. Don't know if it is spreading elsewhere but I did run into it in England six months ago.
Told by the clerk that the bill could only be done in the currency of my billing country (US). I refused to pay in US$ and demanded to be billed in pounds. Was credited back the US$ amount which was 5% higher than official exchange rate (was a hotel bill so made a significant difference). A manager did the charge in £'s.
nibblette is offline  
May 30th, 2005, 02:07 PM
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Craigellachie, I am confident that they will do anything in their power to process the charge in your own currency; that is how they profit, by charging a fairly high premium over the exchange rate you would get if they processed the charge in their currency.

To avoid this, demand to be charged in the merchant's currency, unless the comfort of knowing how much of your own currency you have spent is worth paying the higher exchange rate.
clevelandbrown is offline  
May 30th, 2005, 05:49 PM
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Clevelandbrown: I got a very good discount at The Lodge in Kenmare by paying in cash. Thanks to Fodorites I knew how to get more cash from my ATM and was very careful about charges not being made in dollars. It was tried once in Dingle.
chatham is offline  
May 31st, 2005, 03:46 AM
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Robespierre: I have three sets of friends who are going abroad for the first time this summer. I emailed them your excerpt from the Visa and THEY ALL said they are printing it out to take with them. Thank you.
May 31st, 2005, 07:22 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 548
Yep - happened to me in London in March. When we went to pay our hotel bill we were asked if we wanted to pay in Euros (we're Irish) and we got stung on the currency charge. So it seems to be happening all over - be warned!
ter2000 is offline  
May 31st, 2005, 07:25 AM
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Perhaps somebody would tell us what percentage extra that they are being charged by having their purchase converted to dollars in Europe as compared to having it converted in America.Then we can all make up our own minds.
May 31st, 2005, 08:18 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 6,101
Because I was unaware of this practice, it happened to me twice in Ireland in 2001. At St. Cleran's it resulted in my bill being almost $200 higher than anticipated for a 2 night stay.
In Donegal I finally decided that a hotel had upgraded my room to superior without telling me so, then charged me for it.
hopingtotravel is offline  
May 31st, 2005, 08:20 AM
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Ardfert, I looked into this a few months ago, and my recollection is that a number of companies were offering the service, but nowhere did they reveal the percentage mark-up, other than hinting that it was a way for merchants to maximize profits (I think the merchant gets a share of the markup). At that time MC/VISA was doing a 1% markup (they still are), but some card issuers were starting to add their own markup on top of the MC/VISA percentage, and that has, unfortunately, become more and more common.

Since the dynamic currency conversion (DCC) cut into the MC/VISA profit, MC/VISA responded by expanding their 1% markup to any undomestic transaction.

I would be very surprised if the companies offering this service would willingly expose their markup as a percentage. People who have used the service have been unclear about how disclosure is made, but my guess is they just show an exchange rate on the charge slip (e.g., one euro converts to $1.32US) and leave it to the consumer to know, or not to know, what the exchange rate through MC/VISA and their card issuer is.

I think its safe to say that full disclosure of such things comes only upon compulsion, and even then the disclosure is made in small print well buried in a long boring document that few of us have the time, inclination, or ability, to read.

Assuming that you have a card that MC/VISA and the card issuer each take a full bite of, you could be paying over 4% for conversion, and if DCC (subject, of course to the new MC/VISA fee) is, for example, 5%, I think the advantage of knowing how much of your budget you have burned could well be worth it.
clevelandbrown is offline  
May 31st, 2005, 08:34 AM
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I haven't encountered this in Europe yet but did have it happen at the Nairobi Hilton in Kenya this past February. In my case, the charge in USD was approx. 5% over the exchange rate at the time. So that's 3% more than what Amex would have charged to convert KES into USD.
Patty is offline  

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