Don't let foreign exchange rate overcharges go unchallenged

Catharine Hamm was much too kind when describing the situation involving currency exchange rates (“The Five Words You Never Want to Say When You’re Paying by Credit Card in a Foreign Country,” On the Spot, online, July 30,

I do an annual London theater binge and always stayed at the same hotel. Three years ago, I noticed an anomaly on my hotel bill. It revealed that they had charged me in USD despite my booking in GBP, but the staff had "forgotten" to ask me first. Unlike Hamm’s letter writer, I had no qualms speaking up. The overcharge was 3%, or precisely the amount of the expected foreign transaction fee.

It took three months and dealing with the corporate customer service manager, who claimed she was not aware of the policy, but I eventually got my refund and a new hotel.

Never give anyone other than your bank the right to set the exchange rate. My view is it now mimics the foreign transaction fee, but will soar like the resort fee scam if enough people are foolish enough to fall for it.

The online article, “Cleveland, Once Called the Mistake on the Lake, Is on the Cusp of Cool” (July 16, elicited many comments. Among them:

From JML1979: “Went to Cleveland in 2013 with my wife and didn't expect much. I was really surprised with the city and we had a blast.”

From dbcook1: “I have traveled every corner of the U.S. save a few places….I would put Cleveland and Cincinnati in my top 15 places to visit nationally.”

“People tend to overlook these cities, but there is a lot of energy and revitalization going on in the Rust Belt that is really exciting to see.”

From noneforhow: “I lived in the Midwest for a number of years, not in Toledo but Chicago, and there is definitely a reason it is derisively called fly-over country.”

From gcsmithjr: “As a Cleveland resident and business owner … I can tell you that there is a lot of wishful thinking and p.r. behind this article.

“The weather here is lousy from November to April, and the thriving area of downtown is about eight square blocks total.”

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