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Holiday, receipts and consumer rights

Do you always check your receipts? I don’t and this is because of my trusting nature. However, last summer I did; I checked the same receipt twice and hung on to it for a month.

According to Hassan, B. (see ''The reason you should always check your receipt after the supermarket checkout'', August 18, 2017), “those with adult kids (82%) are the most likely to check their receipt, followed by those with teen kids (78%) and those with young kids (76%). Women are marginally more diligent when it comes to reviewing their docket, with 78% checking over their receipt compared to 75% of men.”

Australian research revealed that 40% of supermarket customers were overcharged at the checkout last year; of these, the average Aussie received an incorrect bill thrice in 12 months and 5% over six times (Hassan, 2017).

The receipt that caught my attention wasn’t from something I bought but what I exchanged. Whilst on a trip to the UK last August, I exchanged currency in Oxford Street. I felt I was deceived as I didn’t get enough money back, and the information on the exchange rate and fees was either invisibly posted on the premises or I didn’t look at it attentively due to distraction from other customers.

I got £70.95 for 120 euros when the average exchange rate at that period was £78 for 100 euros (the amount I got at the P & O Ferries). I was charged 14.97% for the service and 3.00 compliance fees. If I had seen the exchange rate and fees, I would not have exchanged there. It’s not the small amount that bothered me for almost a month but the thought that I’d been ripped off.

There were two elderly Indian-looking individuals before me but, for reason/s unknown to me, they were told to step aside. I felt sorry for them so as soon as I got my money, I left the premises quickly. In the car, when I saw the receipt, I wanted to go back and return the money on principle but didn’t have time as it was our last day and there were still a few things we had to do before heading back to France.

I wanted an explanation on this trading practice, so I sent an email to ChangeGroup. The response I got was “This is due to our prime location in central London and extended opening hours when other bureaus and banks are closed. All customer’s’ information and prices are displayed at our window as required by UK Law understanding that rates and charges differ from one bureau to another”. They apologised for the inconvenience this may have caused me and promised that next time I visit London I will be given preferential rate and no commission.

I answered back and said, “I still think it is unsatisfactory for anyone to get only £70 from 120 Euros. I’m putting this issue to rest. The purpose of my letter to you was never based on money but on principle.”

So, check and hold onto your receipt or docket. If you’ve been overcharged, there are actions you can take. In my case, I contacted the UK Citizens Advice Consumer Service, and they responded promptly with the following information:

Your Rights and Obligations

When selling to the general public, all pricing information must be clearly legible, unambiguous, easily identifiable, in sterling, and inclusive of VAT and any additional taxes. Pricing information must be given close to the product, close to a picture or written description of the product. In relation to sales by telephone, price indications must be clearly audible and linked to the subject of the transaction. A trader should not be unambiguous and should not mislead the consumer by being factually incorrect or omitting information.

Your next steps

If you feel that the pricing is misleading or unfair, you could now formalise your complaint by putting it in writing. In your letter, state the issue and the outcome you would like as a result. Send it recorded delivery for proof of receipt and keep a copy for your records. We’d also recommend adding a deadline, giving the trader a time limit to respond to either, acknowledge the letter or resolve the issue. We usually advise 14 days is reasonable.

What we’ll do

We’d like to let the City of Westminster Trading Standards know about the issue. Trading Standards are part of local authorities. Whilst this doesn’t help you resolve your problem, it gives Trading Standards vital intelligence about how the trader operates their business.
If you do not reach a satisfactory resolution or would like to discuss this further please call us on 0345 404 05 06 or reply to this email”.

Most countries have similar bodies that protect the rights of customers and consumers. Consumers International, an independent and non-profit and apolitical association, has more than 200 member organisations in over 100 nations. It believes in a world where everyone has access to safe and sustainable goods and services. It provides a voice in international policy-making forums and helps ensure that consumers are treated safely, fairly and honestly. (see www.consumersinternational.org/who-we-are).

Meanwhile, it is a convenient and pleasurable experience to holiday in 19 (of the 28) Eurozone countries, e.g. Germany, Greece and Lithuania, as there’s no money/currency exchange. Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City don’t belong to the EU but have adopted the euro as their national currency by virtue of specific monetary agreements; thus, may issue their own euro coins within certain limits.

(from Being Intelligent Gifted - www.beingintelligentgifted.com)

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