Currently in Spain and 2 out of 3 nights, I've had restaurants pull the DCC scam on me. The remaining night I paid cash.
First night: Told waiter I wanted to pay in Euros, not USD. He gave me the receipt to sign and it was the DCC receipt with the charges in USD. I refused to used to sign it, said I wanted Euros, he lost all sense of the English language, and couldn't/wouldn't help me. I asked for the manager. He reversed the charge. But, did the same DCC charge two more times. He said he didn't know how to charge me in Euros. I made him reverse all charges and paid in cash.
Second night: Paid cash, didn't try charging.
Third night: Told waiter I wanted to pay in Euros not USD even before he started the transaction. What happens? The DCC scam. He refused to reverse the charge and reprocess in Euros, refused to let me speak to the manager, and refused to let me pay in cash! This is illegal!!! He, too, lost all command of the English language at this point and would only yell at me in Spanish. I crossed out the USD amount, circled the Euros amount, crossed out the message that I was offered my choice of currencies, added a hand-written note that I had been refused to pay in local currency and initialed that note. I did not sign the signature line. I will dispute this with my cc company, the restaurant will not have a valid receipt with my signature, just my markings and comments. Hopefully, they will be charged a large fine but in any case, I will be paying in Euros.
I think that I will be paying cash in restaurants the remainder of this trip. Terrible about the number of points that I will lose. But, I don't have the time or inclination to dispute and followup on all of these charges for the rest of my 18 day trip.
So, how do you handle this DCC ripoff?
You did not mention where you were eating but from your comment on pts, probably at the resturants in a Marriott. I was in Australiaand the charge was in Australian dollars however when I went to check out, they asked me if I wanted to pay in US or Australian dollars and I chose Australian. This happened in other countries as well.
No, I'm not eating in Marriotts. Actually, won't even be staying in one until my last stop, Madrid. These are local restaurants in Toledo. But, I'm preparing myself for the rest of my stops!
When referring to losing points, I meant points for not using my cc for these restaurant charges, not hotel-related points.
It seems to be prevalent in a number of countries in Europe from my reading.
Other than at the Hotels, I have paid with a cc when out of the country and have never had than happen however it has been a very long time since I was in Spain. What I do remember about eating in Spain, I had some waiters short change me and when I complained they suddenly could speak English.
this still happens a lot but less than in the past, 2012 when this post was done, it was more prevalent.
I like using Amex Ex because it's in local currency and I don't have to watch like a hawk when they charge me. the second I see that long sheet of paper coming out of the credit card printer, I'm all over it. Now in 2016, Am Ex seems to be disappearing from Spain.
When I was checking out of the Marriott in Frankfurt last month they had prepared the invoice already converted from Euro to GBP. Luckily I looked over the invoice clearly before signing as it was written down near the bottom that it had already been converted using their exchange rate. I told them that I had not agreed for the charge to be in GBP and they amended it no problems. I was not pleased though as I didn't expect to encounter this at the hotel.
In the past I generally paid restaurants in cash, but since the card I now have offers very good exchange rates I use the card and have not encountered this in any restaurants in France or Germany on our recent travels.
I didn't experience it in France two years ago either. Not sure how prevelant it might be there today. However, I have read that it is not at all prevelant in Germany (again, where I did not experience it.)
But, based on your experience in Frankfurt, it must be spreading there also.
This is all new to me. Let's see if I understand.... The establishment tries to act as a currency exchange agent. They ring you up in one currency, charge a fee to convert to another. This fee can be whatever they choose and may even be a lousy exchange rate...Is this what is happening?
Certainly sounds like the DCC scam! Very sad that Marriott is a part of it.
Merchants choose to join this network, it is not an automatic transaction thru a bank.... merchants agree to this with an Internet vendor. It is presented to them as an opportunity to make it easier for a customer to understand their true charge while allowing the vendor to make MORE revenue!
Okay.. I found the following on CardHub.... To my knowledge, this has never happened to me.
When shopping overseas, a merchant may ask you if you would like to convert your credit card transaction from the local currency into U.S. dollars. This is called Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC), and while it may sound like an enticing offer, this conversion is very expensive for the cardholder and should be avoided.
Generally, when an overseas merchant makes this offer, they will use a conversion rate that is far higher than the actual going rate, as high as 7 percent, and pocket the difference as a fee. They get away with it because many customers are not checking the math at point of sale to make sure the conversion was accurate.
Some customers incorrectly assume that if they do the currency conversion this way that they can avoid the foreign transaction fee. On the contrary, the credit card company will generally charge the foreign transaction fee in addition to the charge made from Dynamic Currency Conversion. The credit card company is simply charging the customer for a transaction made abroad, and not for the actual currency conversion.
By avoiding Dynamic Currency Conversion and using a credit card without a foreign transaction feeyou can save yourself an extra 10 percent (7 percent DCC + 3 percent foreign transaction fee) on each of your purchases.
Yes, your posting generally spells it out. However, even if your cc has no FTF, you are still being charged at an extremely unfavorable exchange rate plus a 2-3 percent transaction fee which is clearly stated on your transaction slip. Transaction fee may differ but one night I had 2 pct and the other night I had 3 pct on my slip.
You must be given the option to accept or decline to pay in your home currency. This is not happening and the merchants are automatically charging in your home currency. This costs the user more due to the additional fee and poor exchange rate set by the merchant. If you're cc company charges a FTF, then your screwed 3 times over!
Also, at a Santander bank,I was asked if I wanted DCC! NO, thanks!
I have had several stores and restaurants abroad offer to bill in dollars, which I have declined, figuring they were trying to make some money on conversion. I prefer to let the CC company do the conversion cause they give the best rate.
Never had anyone insist.
If they did, I would do the same that you are recommending, make them reverse it, pay cash and let them know I would not return to the establishment, and I would let my hotel know and warn other guests. This is what they really don't want, to have hotels stop sending customers their way. An individual's return business is not that important to them, but to lose a hotel, or hotel chain would be a huge dent.
When I was in BCN, the hotel came me a list of scams to be aware of, and establishments to avoid, when I checked in.
If really annoyed, and have the time, could call the police, though I don't know if its illegal. Some countries like Russia, its illegal to take payment in any other currency other than Rubles. Paying in dollars can get you arrested.
Without DCC is it not the case that the Credit Card scheme and the issuing bank apply a rate for all FX transactions. Typically this is in the region of 3%, with the scheme and issuing bank sharing the margin equally. There is also the case of where do they get the rate to apply the margin too. Is it an interbank rate, what time was the rate got v's the time/date of the transaction i.e. is the rate applied at the time you bought the goods/service or are they applying the rate at the time of settlement.
If DCC is offered correctly you should always have the choice and this should be offered to you at the time of payment. You should be able to see the margin applied, which will of course drive your choice to accept or not.
The majority of DCC providers do offer choice and apply a margin of 3%. There are of course some exceptions where providers/banks/merchants will look to drive the margin, but I have never seen it go higher than 5%, but these are the exception in my experience. For those of you who say your card does not have any margin applied to it, I suggest you go back to your bank and ask them where the base rate was got from. Your bank will always have to pay a margin to buy those currency funds and as we all know banks do tend to pass fees on.
So what the purpose of DCC ? It moves the margin created by a FX transaction from the issuing bank/card scheme to the acquiring bank/merchant/DCC provider which moves the FX revenue to different parties in the transaction. A good compliant DCC service should not leave the card holder any worse off, but does give them choice.
I have never had this happen when traveling overseas. When I was in the Dominican Republic people wanted to be paid cash in dollars and not Dominican pesos, but all the charges to charge cards were in local currency. Used amex card so no foreign currency charges. In Rome our charges were in Euros not dollars. Thanks for posting about this as I would not have known about this scam.
Its more of a problem I have encountered in Western Europe where the exchange on the dollar is not good.
Its always been offered as an option.
Luckily I have always checked out the various foreign exchange options, and know which is best, so turn down the offer.
No one has ever forced me, however they have done the hard sell on all the benefits.
Never encountered this in Eastern Europe, Caribbean, Southeast Asia where the currency exchange problems are not as bad for the USD>
I have taken every precaution I could take with Marriott and they still have each and every possible scenario set up to do DCC - so if the clerk "forgets" the DCC is applied.
I just received an email from a Marriott Hotel in London stating that "I had been charged in local currency" even though I used the mobile app and specified GBP and ticked the LITTLE box at check in which stated I wanted to be charged in local currency and not DCC.
I then checked into another Marriott hotel in the UK. Their mobile check in did NOT ask about currency, but I did check the LITTLE box stating that I wanted no DCC. Yet they pre-authorized in my billing currency rather than the hotel's currency.
It wasted some time to discuss what to do about this.
It seems they try very hard to make it incredibly difficult to avoid DCC and I have completely had it with this.
Someone please tell me what I can do to avoid DCC. I tick the little box, I don't let it do the DCC when I authorize with Chip and pin, I tell the check in clerk that I don't want DCC, and yet DCC rears its ugly head.
BTW, "reversing the charge and paying cash" doesn't alway work very well because they apply the commission the other way when they credit it, so you lose TWICE as much.
This shows very poor ethics on the part of Marriott and I am extremely disappointed in them.
Like many issues these days, DCC appears to be a 'property by property' potential headache and like several issues implemented at the local level, Marriott doesn't really provide much aid to the customer.
If you haven't seen it, here's a thread on FlyerTalk that addresses the DCC headache/scam - note specifically the last few posts - this August Issues involving foreign exchange conversion rates - Page 8 - FlyerTalk Forums
I've been fortunate and only had it happen once and prior to paying, like you, I caught it and fortunately for me, (unlike you), I got an associate that properly corrected it on the spot. So not only is the policy, property by property, wild west style, but the potential solution is, as well, luck of the draw.
As you see on the FlyerTalk thread, there appears to be a few techniques for protection by dealing with the credit card firm - but once again, it is a situation proving that being right is overrated. Working it out at the card level remains a major PITA, one that any normal person would want to avoid like a migraine.
Summary: It actually appears that currently there isn't any fail safe workaround. As you have seen with the lack of implementation on the No Smoking Policy, Marriott similarly, takes the "not my problem" attitude toward DCC.
ERC, thank you for your reply.
I wrote Marriott customer service, and of course they wanted to know the "hotels" involved. I'm sure that will get it fixed!
It is nothing short of corporate greed. Marriott claims to like to set themselves apart and hold themselves to a higher standard.
However, this does not seem to apply to making a little extra money at the customer's expense.
I suspect that most of the major chains do it, but of course since I stay primarily at Marriott properties, they are the ones I see doing this at this time.
I don't like it when this sort of thing happen. Yes, I like the "free" platinum breakfast and the free "elite" internet, but I don't like being ripped off against my will, and this DCC issue is not offset by the platinum benefits at all.
We'll see where this goes, but I encourage anyone else who is upset by this to bring it up with them (politely) now so they see it as something to make the effort to fix.
techie and erc
Thanks for the information and discussion on DCC. I have never had a problem in the past as I have always been asked. However, I will be in France, Belgium and The Netherlands staying at Marriott properties in September and this warning is timely. I will be especially on my toes in Amsterdam. The advice from the Flyer Talk Forum is useful and I will follow it in some manner if I should run into a problem. Thanks again!
I don't know if you have a chip and pin card or not.
However my advice is this:
Don't use the smartphone app to check in.
When presented with the PIN pad, if it presents you with the amount in US dollars, press NO and it should state the charge in the hotel's currency.
Do not sign a slip or enter a pin unless it shows in the hotel's local currency.
When you check in, there is (in the UK anyway) a very small tick box that says "unless this is checked, the bill will be in your home currency" - or something to that effect. Tick this box and take a picture of it for your records.
Don't take it out on the front desk clerks, they have little idea of what's going on. I believe they are trained that it is "for our convenience" and don't really understand the financial motivator behind it. However, if they don't seem to know how to get it to go in their local currency, just patiently wait for them to get the support to find out.
Exception: in places with volatile/unstable currencies or currency regulations, you will likely be billed in US dollars, but in that case, you would have been quoted in US dollars also.
Be polite yet firm.
I've just about had it with Marriott's pseudo ethics.
Bill Marriott's blog talks about how important it is to have integrity in business, and yet his corporate managers are making a ton of money for the corporation by making it very hard to avoid DCC.
I'm in a hotel where they did DCC even though I emphatically told them not to (pre auth and I caught it at that point).
They have smoking on their bar's balcony (I guess a "smoke free hotel policy" does not mean you can expect to sit on the bar's balcony,.....)
Both coffee machines are broken in the concierge lounge (again)
The internet is up and down like a yo-yo (I couldn't get anything done and I am now connected through the mobile network).
I have a back ache from the bed (it isn't one of the new Marriott beds that are so nice)
A good friend of mine arrives soon, we shall see if he has any of these problems at HIS hotel.
The staff is nice and friendly, the view is great. But they need to pay more attention to detail.
It happened to me three times in 2014.
What I've learned:
Do not use the automated check out.
Make sure to tick the little box and take a picture of it.
If they authorize using DCC, MAKE THEM REVERSE IT Immediately.
They had to create a 1 p charge to match up a charge with the pre-auth, but if everyone made them reverse this, then maybe they would learn.
If it happens again, there will be a chargeback (I will happily settle the bill in local currency)
The thing is, the Marrott Visa card doesn't charge a foreign currency fee, and yet Marriott Hotels, at least in the UK, generally default to DCC.
I have tried every type of check in, and since it defaults to DCC, you are pretty much screwed by them unless someone successfully intervenes and puts the credit card charge the right way.
Despite the very best efforts to avoid DCC, it is a never ending battle. To me, it is a business ethics issue, and I am very disappointed.
They are supposed to default to DCC.
However what you're saying is what I do. In June, I was at a hotel in York (not Marriott) where it kept coming up in my home currency. I would hit "no" and it would still come up, so then I would hit "cancel". We went around with this several times - after I was saying "no" she was still overriding it. You have to be incredibly stubborn with some of these people.
As to the Marriotts, when I arrive on a plane, I like to arrive early at the hotel, so I request an early check in with the mobile app. Since everything is defaulted to DCC (which it is not supposed to be), the staff often gets the pre-authorization wrong. Also, express check out is "defaulted" to DCC.
I want the convenience and also to have Marriott "do the right thing" and abide by both my wishes and their merchant agreement.
It is like having a bad kid that you have to watch and it is trying to slip DCC by you at every opportunity. This is not the way it is supposed to be.
However, obviously they don't fix it.
They should call this the "deaf ears" forum. because our concerns "fall upon deaf ears" more often than not.
I am very aware of the DCC issue and am always careful to select local currency when using my credit card overseas. On a recent trip to Europe (France, Spain and UK) I had no DCC problems at all ... except for one - and that was at a Marriott Hotel in London!
I made my reservation online at the Marriott website. I took advantage of a lower rate offered for paying in advance. Total was 530 GBP and I received a confirmation e-mail from Marriott stating the amount in GBP (no mention of any conversion to USD). I used my Marriott credit card for the transaction which boasts no foreign exchange fees, However, when I looked at my credit card statement the amount had been pre-converted to USD at a rate that was about 3% less favorable than other transactions made on the same day without DCC. I find it ironic that Marriott would dupe me with DCC while at the same time touting no foreign exchange fees on its own branded credit card.
I called the Marriott hotel and complained. They said that since I booked online they were unable to offer me the choice of DCC and so assumed that I would want it. Of course, the rules actually state that DCC should NOT be applied unless the cardholder specifically authorizes it.
I sent a complaint to the credit card company but just got back a form letter stating that since the services had been provided there was nothing they could do. I was going to pursue further but decided that I am wasting my time.
So, as a warning to others ... If booking a Marriott hotel overseas, avoid booking online. Call the hotel directly and make sure to tell them that you want to be billed in local currency. Based on other comments in this thread I'm not sure if this will guarantee that they still won't dupe you, but it's worth a try!
DEMAND the hotel cancels the transaction and recharges in USD. Alert carat, AndrewT and melissaerb and name the con-merchant London hotel that acts so shabbily. Your transaction is in the UK so you have EU rights and you can complain to the UK banking ombudsman which should scare the sh*t out of this shoddy hotel.
Thats what I would do, but I'm a no-good litigation lawyer with a chip on my shoulder about how the "convenient" DCC has been turned into a profit centre by avaricious hotels, assisted - entirely unsurprisingly - by our con-artist, grasping bankers...
Thanks for your advice to contact the Community Managers, brightlybob. In fact, carat sent me a reply shortly after I posted my message and offered to help out. I provided her the details of my own efforts to resolve this situation and she went to bat for me. Within a day I received an e-mail from the hotel in question with an apology and an offer of appropriate compensation for the amount I was overcharged for the unauthorized use of DCC. It's reassuring that the Community Managers on this forum truly want to help keep valued Marriott customers happy.
I would like to share part of the response that I received from the hotel since I think that it is relevant to the topic of this thread:
"We do offer the DCC service to our guests upon check out. In the case of advance purchase reservations like yours, we always charge them in British Pounds. In order for us to process a payment in any other currency than British Pounds, it’s mandatory that we ask the guest in which currency they would like to pay. ... In this case we failed to follow our policy when using DCC ... please accept my apologies."
So it is quite clear that they are aware of the rules with respect to DCC.
Hopefully this thread helps to educate other travelers about DCC so that they can make appropriate and informed choices and avoid adding unnecessarily to the cost of their foreign transactions.
Phil. I would certainly take advantage of a 10% discount advance purchase discount (assuming that you are confident that you will not have to cancel the reservation, of course). The question is how the charges will be applied to your credit card - i.e. whether they will be correctly billed in local currency (Chinese yuan) or in your home currency (US dollars in my case). By making the reservation online, the hotel may do the conversion to US dollars themselves (using DCC) without your knowledge or permission. This is what happened to me. This seems to depend on the practices of each individual hotel, and even the hotel which did this to me admitted that it was contrary to their policies. So you have to be wary and watch your credit card statement to see that the charges were billed in Chinese yuan and converted to US dollars by VISA. VISA will generally use a fair exchange rate whereas a DCC conversion by the hotel will use an exchange rate that typically costs you an extra 3%.
What I will probably do in the future is call the hotel directly and make the reservation over the phone. Make sure that they quote you the same daily room rate that you saw online. And then insist that you want your credit card to be billed in local currency (i.e. Chinese yuan). Then keep your fingers crossed that they will honor your request. Calling a hotel in London would be easy but I'm not sure if you would have any language barrier issues speaking to a hotel in Shanghai! Good luck.
The fine print in the Marriott "pre booking" says that you agree to them using DCC. They do not give you any other option. I suggest you contact Marriott first and complain about this. Failing that, contact your credit card company once again and remind them that you were not provided with an option by Marriott with your purchase, which contravenes the merchant agreement, from what I was told (by Visa) and I do have that email somewhere. They should initiate a chargeback and then Marriott can charge in GB Pounds like they were supposed to.
This always puts me in a bad position because I do not wish to jeopordize the normally wonderful relationship I have with the hotel staff because of the back office greediness. We should all complain each and every time. This is not "hospitality" and ruins an otherwise wonderful experience.
I was not aware the difference/costs could be this big; thanks for all the explanations;
A long time ago I was asked by Marriott FDP if I would like to have local our EURO;
I asked what was cheaper, and they advised me to pay in local;
so good advise, which I have followed ever since;
turns out I saved (the company I work for) a lot of money :-)