Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Got a Buck?

We recently spent a week on a cruise to Bermuda and naturally spent some money there.  Bermuda is a foreign country although some don't believe it since it is so close to the us.  But since it is a British nation their main currency is not the U S Dollar.
That is not to say that they do not welcome or even covet the greenback just that when taking a $ they convert the thing into a £.
If the conversion rate is favorable to America we make out on the deal and if not, well then we are paying a little more than had we used the £ Sterling for the purchase.
We are all big boys and girls and we understand the nature of the business.
Now enter the leech, AKA the credit card company.
They are paid 3% or 4% by the merchant for every transaction and whether or not this is fair I cannot say.  It concerns me only to the extent that any charge the merchant incurs has been figured into his or her cost and therefore into the selling price as well.  So we are all actually paying that added percentage.
But times are tough for the banks, or at least that is what they want you to think so the smallish percentage they rape I mean take from the merchant is not enough for them.
What to do?
I know, let's charge the purchaser a fee for buying something in a foreign currency!  After all it takes the computer at least a micro-millisecond to convert the foreign amount into dollars!  That way we get money from both sides.
I found a tiny charge on my most recent Citicard bill that amounted to a not much but annoying $3.04.  The charge was noted as a foreign transaction fee.
I merely sent a message to customer service requesting an explanation since in the past credit card companies used to list the price in foreign currency along with the converted price in U S Dollars.  The $ price was the one you owed the card company.
I asked if the bank was now joining the growing list of companies adding "BWC" charges to their bills.  [For anyone unfamiliar with the term it stands for Because We Can.]  Are you taking a page from the airline industry and the phone companies, I asked?
Their response was simply that since they cannot tell which currency the merchant is using for the charges they must therefore assume it is to be converted and they add the conversion fee of whatever percentage they have decided they need for that aforementioned micro millisecond of computing time.
I will pay because as we all have come to realize in this country you cannot beat the corporations; the banks; the lobbies; or any of the people in charge of our Government.
But it is funny how Citibank blames their merchants for not making it clear what currency they use and yet the merchants still pay a fee to Citibank for services.
They are both good at passing the buck!
Sadly the buck they always pass IS OURS!

PS - I added up the transactions made while in Bermuda and the joke is on Citi - The fee should have been $3.05! Take that you big bully!!

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