While on a tour of the Arab market in Jerusalem, Jonathan Rosen pays for lunch using his MasterCard. But instead of a charge for about $20, he gets a bill for $2,500. Why won’t his credit card issuer reverse the charges? “A $2,500 MasterCard billing error! Is the cardholder out of luck?”
Processing a credit card charge for overseas purchases used to be pretty simple. You swiped your card while on vacation, your bank changed the money from pesos or euros into greenbacks, and the amount you’d spent appeared on your bill. Maybe you paid a small conversion fee, but you also got a competitive exchange rate.
Not anymore. Just ask Jae Cuadra, who recently tried to buy a round-trip train ticket between the Swiss cities of Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen. The purchase, at a train station in Interlaken, went on his Capital One Visa card, which doesn’t charge to convert foreign currencies. But “for the first time, I was offered a choice,” says Cuadra, a registered nurse from Westbury, N.Y. “Did I want to pay in dollars or Swiss francs?”
“The dangers of dynamic currency conversion”
This is the “after” picture of Christy Nidle’s Hertz rental last year in Perugia, Italy. “I changed lanes and scraped a car passing me from behind,” she says.
Oops. But what should have been a routine damage claim, wasn’t.
“I’m going to leave out the colorful account of the scene in the rental office,” she told me. “Suffice to say there was much arm-waving and yelling in Italian.”
And then there was the matter of the final bill. Between the Hertz location, the repair shop and her credit card, no one could seem to agree on how much she should pay for the damage.
“Did Hertz overbill me for my fender-bender?”
Remember Prime Travel protection, the Colorado travel insurance company that shut down amid allegations it sold unlicensed policies? Turns out it’s not dead yet.
When Dick Rheinhardt booked a cruise vacation through Four Seasons Tours and Cruises, in Largo, Fla., last November, he agreed to pay $824 for what he believed to be a travel insurance policy. But it wasn’t a real policy, he says. A few months later, Florida authorities told three agencies that Prime Travel Protection policies might be bogus. Rheinhardt wanted a refund.
That’s when he discovered Prime Travel Protection was alive and well.
“It’s alive! Prime Travel Protection pursues customer who didn’t want “insurance””