Monday, 29 March 2010

VISA Debit Card Charge

I've been stung, yet again, by the rip-off "handling" service charge incurred when I bought euros in a post office.

I innocently ambled into the city centre post office, inquired as to whether they had very large €500 euro notes, and paid by VISA debit card; not before I was advised that it may incur a charge.

Had I been warned that it would incur a charge, I'd probably have walked out and taken time to consider the strategy. I checked my bank statement a few days' later and, sure enough, my bank - not the post office - had deprived me of £22.41 as a "service charge DE". I'm possibly wasting my time, since I've caused a fuss and asked them for a full or partial refund; or I'll make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman. Here is their response, with requisite omissions:-

"Thank you for contacting (bank name) at Coventry.

I am sorry we are unable to refund the fee charged by VISA as this charge is set out in the rates and fees section of the personal homepage.

The information is also shown when you access your online statement, and we feel we have been clear about the VISA fees being charged.

I refer you to the Post Office, as they normally advise customers of any likely charges using debit cards to purchase currency online or purchases made over the counter.

I hope you can understand the reason(s) for my decision. If you are unhappy with my decision, you can refer your complaint to our Central Complaints team.

You can either write to: (bank name), PO Box 5129, Grafton Gate East, Milton Keynes, MK10 1PQ,
Email: complaints@(bank name) or,
Call: 0845 600 6014 or Type talk on: 18001 0845 600 6014.

If you are still unhappy with our outcome you may have the availability of referring your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

If we do not hear from you within 8 weeks we will consider your complaint closed.

If you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind Regards

The moral for me is: do not use VISA cards to buy foreign currency. Always check the small print. Withdraw cash from any LINK machine and take it to the bureau de change, post office or wherever for currency; even if it means withdrawing a bucket-load of money.

Does this malpractice occur in North America and Europe; or only in the UK?

My predicament may not apply to all financial institutions; though I'm sure many high street banks operate this subtle, rip-off profiteering scheme for themselves.


Sharon Owens said...

I lost a small fortune recently changing a pay cheque ( in euros) into sterling in my Belfast branch. I was livid for about 4 days - the amount would have taken me about 4 weeks to earn - and the bank got it for their nice girl doing 10 seconds work on the computer. Hey ho. That's capitalism for you. I should have returned the cheque to the sender and asked them to do an e-transfer. I have since been informed they do not do e-transfers. I will not work for this company again.

Timothy Belmont said...

I'm wondering if these malpractices concerning VISA occur in North America and Europe; or only in the British Isles.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Visa are up to the same shennanigans over here too, I will check it out. Though Visa debit cards aren't particularily well penetrated here.

To be fair, you also need to look at the fx rate you got; as I understand it you get a tighter spread on visa transactions than going through a bank.

Stephen said...

Don't you get a better rate going through Visa than using a bank teller?

Timothy Belmont said...

The UK Postal service provides very competitive exchange rates.

It is because I paid using my VISA debit card that VISA simply slapped a charge on it.

The PO converted and did all the work. What was the VISA charge for? Just profiteering!

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