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Getting Shafted on BA AMEX, Cautionary Tale

Getting Shafted on BA AMEX, Cautionary Tale

Old Apr 14, 20, 4:35 am
  #1  
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Getting Shafted on BA AMEX, Cautionary Tale

So unfortunately I had to cancel my honeymoon because of the Covid situation, and because my wife is an NHS doctor (so rather busy ATM!). All of the airlines and hotels offered me no-quibble refunds, even though most of the bookings were originally non-refundable. The only exception has been my BA Amex card. Amex are refusing to refund the non-sterling transaction fees on BOTH the original payments AND the refunds. This was the most expensive holiday I'd ever booked - once in a lifetime - and the fees are not negligible. I knew about the FX fees when I made the booking of course, but figured the Avios made it worthwhile. Now though, I'm paying double the fees I thought I'd be paying, and Amex is still clawing back the Avios from my account.

I know that there's nothing in the credit agreement that says they have to refund the fees, but there's nothing that says they are non-refundable either. According to the call centre agent, it's "policy".

My broader point, I suppose, is that you would have to be absolutely barking mad to book any future travel on these points cards with big FX fees at present, tempting as some of the offers and flexibility conditions may be. My personal view is that Covid restrictions will ebb and flow for a very prolonged period of time. Lockdowns will stop and start and stop and start. It's unlikely there'll be a mass vaccination program before the next two 'flu seasons. And, even if what you booked is flexible, Amex will still be around to shaft you 3% on the the original payment and another 3% on the refund, while clawing back the Avios in double-quick time.

Is this what we pay the annual card fees for? My card will be going in the bin.
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Old Apr 14, 20, 4:45 am
  #2  
 
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I'm not sure I follow ? When a charge is taken overseas the foreign currency fee is within the charge. Ditto when there's a refund, the forex fee is back in the refund. Sometimes due to currency changes you can actually make money on this, when BA cancelled my errors fare 3/4 years ago - the one with four passengers I actually received £75 more on the refund
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Old Apr 14, 20, 4:45 am
  #3  
 
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Iím not sure I understand the bit about the 3% fee on the refund as the refund should be increased by 3% not reduced by 3%.

ie 1150 EUR = £1030 of it was 1.15EUR/£ when you bought and £1076 if it was 1.1EUR/£ when refunded.

Didnít all the Avios transfer over into your actual BAEC account?

If your card is now in a negative Avios balance just cancel the card and get a refund of any remaining fee. This sign up at some point in the future when you might be booking BA flights.
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Old Apr 14, 20, 4:49 am
  #4  
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You were not shafted; if you want to avoid getting foreign currency exchange fees, then use a credit card that doesn't charge currency fees

It is perfectly normal that these fees are not refunded - you made a foreign purchase and were charged the fees ; the retailer made a refund and you were credited back the amount from the retailer

Since you had the transaction refunded, it is normal for any points accrued for the transaction to be reclaimed

If you are paying an annual fee, then you are paying for the benefits that the card offers. If the value of the benefits is not worth the fee, then time to cancel the card

Originally Posted by mikeyfly View Post
I'm not sure I follow ? When a charge is taken overseas the foreign currency fee is within the charge. Ditto when there's a refund, the forex fee is back in the refund. Sometimes due to currency changes you can actually make money on this, when BA cancelled my errors fare 3/4 years ago - the one with four passengers I actually received £75 more on the refund
Not on cards that I have from Amex. If I make a purchase in a foreign currency, the transaction lists the Cost in currency used, rate converted to local currency and the card conversion fee. on a refund, there is simply the rate and rate converted to local currency - obviously if exchange rate moved favourably enough, then this can be covered
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Old Apr 14, 20, 4:49 am
  #5  
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Originally Posted by mikeyfly View Post
I'm not sure I follow ? When a charge is taken overseas the foreign currency fee is within the charge. Ditto when there's a refund, the forex fee is back in the refund. Sometimes due to currency changes you can actually make money on this, when BA cancelled my errors fare 3/4 years ago - the one with four passengers I actually received £75 more on the refund
I made some back on a cancelled hotel in the Grand Canyon last month - booked at 1.31 and refunded at 1.17. Shame it was only the deposit so only about a tenner!
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Old Apr 14, 20, 4:51 am
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So was there a 6% swing in the difference between the transactions? I doubt it very much..

I have had about a dozen refunds from my UK Amex cards most of which are in other currencies and all are for the same Sterling amount as was billed. The majority were on my UK BA amex and I have not been disadvantaged as you outlined above. One transaction on my Visa card I got back a couple of quid more than I was billed but thats it..
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Old Apr 14, 20, 4:55 am
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I wouldn't expect them to be refunded. You made the choice that the points earned were worth paying the FX charge, Amex did not force you to do this, I see no reason why they should refund the FX charges if you subsequently changed your mind - regardless of the reason.

Surely you can compare this to buying something online where you chose to pay postage/courier charges to get an item quicker, and subsequently decide you don't want the item - should the retailer refund those charges? No!
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Old Apr 14, 20, 4:55 am
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The benefits have to be funded somehow, FX fees and high interest rates are part of the deal. Why were you not paying in GBP?
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Old Apr 14, 20, 4:56 am
  #9  
 
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This isn't correct , you get the fee back. You can see this when you click on the transaction when you log in.

It's just slightly confusing as it shows the fee as a positive number, but it has been refunded if you calculate using the exchange rate shown

So any differences were due to currency movement

Recent example:

13 MAR 20 BA.COM SWEDEN
-£51.21DOING BUSINESS AS

BA.COM
S-000 00

SWEDEN
DATE PROCESSED:

X MAR 20


FOREIGN SPEND AMOUNT
599,00 SEK

NON-STERLING TRANSACTION FEE

£1.49

EXCHANGE RATE

12.0474
So 599 / 12.0474 = 49.72 + 1.49 = 51.21
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Old Apr 14, 20, 5:00 am
  #10  
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Originally Posted by deepbluetee View Post

My broader point, I suppose, is that you would have to be absolutely barking mad to book any future travel on these points cards with big FX fees at present, tempting as some of the offers and flexibility conditions may be. My personal view is that Covid restrictions will ebb and flow for a very prolonged period of time. Lockdowns will stop and start and stop and start. It's unlikely there'll be a mass vaccination program before the next two 'flu seasons. And, even if what you booked is flexible, Amex will still be around to shaft you 3% on the the original payment and another 3% on the refund, while clawing back the Avios in double-quick time.

Is this what we pay the annual card fees for? My card will be going in the bin.
Honey, I feel your pain in every sense. The mechanics of your transaction will be queried by other, I do not happen to understand quite how they work as I long abandoned AMEX for anything except £ transactions. I might say the same of the Lloyds Card, What I would say is that nothing would persuade me to pay for a credit card, I may be a tight fisted old ex-BAag but there it is.

I am an avid reader of Which? and they recommended a Halifax card which charges no foreign transaction fees. I thought that it was too good to be true - and no it was true. I used it for our last trip and then went back and calculated how much we had not paid in transaction fees. I kicked myself for not knowing about them earlier. This is of absolutely no use to you now, but if you have to have an Amex card, get the Blue BA Amex card - it is free. The day that it isn't is the day that they can kiss my derriere goodbye.
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Old Apr 14, 20, 5:01 am
  #11  
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OP, I too do not really understand the gripe. Perhaps you could post actual money movements? Disguised/anonimised perhaps? It would be interesting to see if the real FX moved so much that you were truly out of pocket.

The FX surcharges are annoying, but these are fully disclosed and I would not expect them to be refunded if you chose to cancel your honeymoon, even if doing so what out of your (and Amex's) control.
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Old Apr 14, 20, 5:05 am
  #12  
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Originally Posted by PUCCI GALORE View Post
Honey, I feel your pain in every sense. The mechanics of your transaction will be queried by other, I do not happen to understand quite how they work as I long abandoned AMEX for anything except £ transactions. I might say the same of the Lloyds Card, What I would say is that nothing would persuade me to pay for a credit card, I may be a tight fisted old ex-BAag but there it is.

I am an avid reader of Which? and they recommended a Halifax card which charges no foreign transaction fees. I thought that it was too good to be true - and no it was true. I used it for our last trip and then went back and calculated how much we had not paid in transaction fees. I kicked myself for not knowing about them earlier. This is of absolutely no use to you now, but if you have to have an Amex card, get the Blue BA Amex card - it is free. The day that it isn't is the day that they can kiss my derriere goodbye.
Amex knows that there is a very captive audience (given that the UK landscape is so different from that in the US in this respect) that sees only the Avios that the BA cards provide, and are indifferent/ignorant of the FX surcharges when travelling. In other words, it is an acceptable cost of business in the pursuit of 'free flights'.
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Old Apr 14, 20, 5:09 am
  #13  
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Two examples of hotel refunds on my BAPP (EDIT: the last one for CX is on the amex chargecard). The non-sterling fees are included in the refund amount - if you click on the transaction online it does show it in the breakdown. However, currency moves can easily result in changes of 5% or more, and it will be purely luck whether that is a gain or loss for you. It is really just the risk when dealing with foreign spend.

Hilton Dublin
Paid - 3 December
Foreign spend amount 253,50 eur
Non-sterling transaction fee £6.46
Exchange rate 1.1724
------------------------------------------------
Charged £222.68

Refunded - 27 March
Foreign spend amount 253,50 eur
Non-sterling transaction fee £6.88
Exchange rate 1.1016
------------------------------------------------
Refund £236.99

Gain - £14.31 (about 6%)

Hilton Sofia
Paid - 4 July
Oreign Spend Amount 194.88 BGN
Non-Sterling Transaction Fee £2.68
Exchange Rate 2.1776
------------------------------------------------
Charged £92.17

Refunded - 8 April
Foreign spend amount 194.88 BGN
Non-sterling transaction fee £2.64
Exchange rate 2.2062
------------------------------------------------
Refund £90.97

Loss - £1.20 (about 1.5%)

Cathay Pacific
Paid - 20 January
Foreign Spend Amount 8,425.00 THB
Non-Sterling Transaction Fee £6.40
Exchange Rate 39.3342
------------------------------------------------
Charged £220.59

Refunded - 24 March
Foreign Spend Amount 8,425.00 THB
Non-Sterling Transaction Fee £6.58
Exchange Rate 38.2641
------------------------------------------------
Refund £226.76

Gain - £6.17 (about 3%)

Last edited by KARFA; Apr 14, 20 at 5:22 am
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Old Apr 14, 20, 5:10 am
  #14  
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Originally Posted by sunshinebob View Post
So was there a 6% swing in the difference between the transactions? I doubt it very much..
Entirely possibly, see my example.
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Old Apr 14, 20, 5:21 am
  #15  
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USD to GBP has moved by more than 6% in the last month.
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