sarahx: (Default)
You know I got a debit card on my Euro account so I could easily spend my euros abroad?

Ha bloody ha.

Two problems so far...

Yesterday's may well not have been the fault of the card, but anyway... Went to cashpoint. Asked for €100. Receipt said it had given me €100. Machine gave me no money.

It was in the lobby area of a bank branch, which was closed. But there was a button on the wall that connected to their call centre. Where no-one spoke any English (or French, for that matter), and my Spanish wasn't good enough to explain what the problem was. So I rang Citibank's call centre in India, and apparently I have to fax them to tell them what had happened before they can do anything about crediting the money. But the girl on the phone only ventured that information after going to ask someone what to do after I pressed her on whether I had to do anything else. Went back to the hotel, went online, and the account has indeed been debited the €100.

And today..... well... The background is this evil little thing called Dynamic Currency Conversion. This is the practice that's springing up all over the place – and in Spain in particular – by which the retailer converts the currency for you and adds its commission, so you end up paying in sterling for something that's priced in euros, often at an unfavourable rate. Now I got a euro card so that I didn't have to worry about currency conversions, and just pay in the local currency – I do the odd bit of work that's paid in euros and I've been keeping them in currency. So what happens? I spot on the receipt that €25 has been magicked into £17.70. It had picked up that it's a UK card – regardless of the fact that the only money in the account it debits is in euros. This would mean that not only was I being fleeced for the conversion by the shop, but also again by Citibank to turn it back into the euros it should have been debited in in the first place.

After about 10 minutes on the phone, the assistant managed to establish that the computerised till at El Corte Inglés does it automatically, and there was no way to override it. Which is, in fact, illegal – EU law says you have to have the option of paying in local currency. In the end, I was getting fed up and got them to cancel the transaction on the card and paid them in cash instead. I have to hope it was indeed cancelled and not debited and then re-credited, otherwise I'll wind up paying for two lots of conversion – twice.

Am I going to have the same problem next time I try to use the card? And when I come to pay the hotel bill on Monday?! I bloody well hope not.

I feel a dirty great rant at Citibank coming on. But I get the impression that most of the people who answer the phone haven't got much idea what's going on. This may or may not be because it's been outsourced to India.

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sarahx

July 2010

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