Thursday, January 19, 2012

Credit Card Fraud!

Yes, it's well documented that I have a tendency to embellish my stories, and I will admit that the title of this post could be considered an exaggeration. A better title would probably be, "Credit Charge default not in my favor", but let's face it, if that were the title, you probably wouldn't be reading the post right now.

We have a US Credit Card that accumulates points like most others. We use it a lot and then pay off the balance each month so we can earn points to use for things like ... travel (you knew that was coming, right?) The challenge we sometime have here in the UAE is that the credit card machines want to charge us in USD, rather than the local currency, which is AED (dirham). And when this happens, because of the exchange rate, we end up paying more for our stuff ... which we just don't like to do. Now, this practice a) isn't a default on all credit card machines, and b) can be easily overridden ... if the cashier is paying attention. And believe me when I tell you that's a big IF.

After finally understanding how this all works and realising that it's in our favour to watch out for this 'fraud', I've become vigilant. And good thing too because it happens often.

My first attempt to fix the problem was at a shoe store. You can see on the receipt that you've been charged in USD rather than AED and I pointed this out to the cashier, asked them to void the transaction and run it again to charge me in AED. BLANK STARE. I calmly explained again, pointing out the reference on the credit card slip thinking, "maybe he's a visual learner".
The response? "yes, madam, it is charged in USD."
"I know, but I need it to be charged in AED. Will you please void the transaction and run it again?"
"You want AED, madam?"
"yes, please."
"But it charged in USD. This is the conversion."
"Yes, I know, but I want it charged in AED."
"it is AED."
"uh, no, see, it says right here that it's charged in USD."
"that's how it charged, madam."
"yes, I understand, that's why you need to void it and run it again at AED."

(you get the picture)

After about 20 minutes, a call to the manager (who was on his lunch break) and a comment or two that the difference wasn't that much, they finally voided the transaction and ran it again ... and we got our 10 cents back. :)

I've re-played this scene at least 5 times in the last 2 months and have to go through it every time I grocery shop at Lulu in Mushrif Mall. Last weekend, I tried a more proactive approach (AGAIN) at Lulu and told the cashier to make sure it was AED when I handed him my credit card. "yes, of course, madam." Once again, it was charged in USD, and once again, it took almost 20 minutes to get the situation rectified. At the end, the manager told me to tell the cashier to ring it as AED when I hand over the card ... took me 3 tries to get her to understand that I had and it didn't make any difference.

I suggested (in a nice way, I promise) she give her staff some additional training.

And I know what you're probably thinking "all that hassle for 10 cents?" but it's the principle. We live in UAE and get paid in AED - we should be able to purchase in AED as well. And why should the hypermarket get my extra 10 cents every time I shop when I could be putting those pennies to good use ... like paying for our upgrades into business class on our next vacation? :)

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