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Expat Investor : October 2008
NEWS Overseas card and phone charges make Brits see red spends on currencies for European destinations. It found that holidaymakers would need to spend nearly £43 more to get the same amount of euros as they did in 2007 – £273 instead of £230. Similarly, they would need to pay £32 more to maintain the average 2007 currency purchase of £170 for Croatian kuna and £18 more to get the same number of Turkish lira (£217). The Post Office also calculated how much extra eating and drinking out in restaurants and cafes might cost a family of four on a one week holiday in Spain, Greece, France, Croatia and Turkey, using research from its Holiday Costs Barometer. Meals and drinks could add up to Hidden charges for using credit and debit cards or mobile phones abroad top the list of holiday grumbles in a survey commissioned by the UK’s Post Office Travel Services. As the UK credit crunch continues to bite, the Post Office research revealed that six out of 10 top holiday irritations relate to perceived rip-offs. These include the cost of exchanging money abroad, the pressure to leave tips, even when service is poor, and the feeling that tourists get charged special high rates. The Post Office is the UK’s largest foreign currency provider and it’s research looked at average Paypal launches prepaid card people control over their spending, allowing them to pay as they go, says PayPal and it’s also ideal for consumers who do not have credit or debit cards, and want some way to spend their cash online. PayPal says its Top-Up Card is one of the most competitive cards in the market, costing just £4.95 to get started. Using the PayPal Top Up card should be both convenient and practical with multiple ways to be topped up with money. It is the only prepaid card which can be topped up online in three clicks via PayPal and can also be reloaded offline at Post Offices and PayPoint retail outlets across the UK. PayPal says this card is particularly well suited for people who sell online, as it enables them to spend the balances stored on their PayPal account offline. Carl Scheible, Managing Director of PayPal UK comments, “Over one in ten of our customers told us that they’re looking for ways to manage their spending… We know that less than a quarter of online shoppers feel secure about entering financial details when shopping online…. “Security is at the heart of PayPal, the secure online payment provider, has launched a prepaid top up card. The PayPal Top Up card is a 2 EXPAT INVESTOR ? reloadable VISA card and can be used almost anywhere the VISA symbol is displayed, in high street stores as well as websites. It gives October 2008 everything we do, and the card will be protected by Chip and PIN. If the card is lost, funds are secure, where a loss of cash is not. “This is particularly appealing to people traveling or going on holiday as a pre-loaded card is more convenient than carrying cash or travellers cheques.” Fast Facts 88111 expatinvestor.com as much as £551 in Greece – costing families nearly £90 more than a year ago for the same items. The increase was almost as great in Spain, France and Croatia. The lowest increase (£44.15) was in Turkey,which is generally regarded as offering good value and which has seen a 28 per cent year on year rise in Post Office currency sales for Turkish lira. But there are ways to beat the holiday credit crunch, according to the Post Office. It says that families can claw back most, if not all, of the additional cash needed to pay for holiday essentials by avoiding spending on the very things that topped its holiday irritations survey. Helen Warburton, Post Office Head of Travel tells Expat Investor, “Our research showed that UK tourists are particularly irritated by the high charges for using mobile phones abroad and for using credit and debit cards to get cash abroad or make purchases.However, we estimate that a family of four could claw back nearly £76 by cutting out these costs in euro destinations - and this was based on moderate phone use. In Turkey, where mobile phone calls cost more, the same usage would cost more than £145. “Keep the phone for emergencies, turn the answer machine facility off to avoid expensive incoming calls and get holiday cash in advance, without paying commission or incurring high ATM charges. “If you do want to use a credit card, make sure that it is one that offers 0 per cent commission, like the Post Office Credit Card, as most cards charge a minimum of 2.75 per cent for every transaction.” Fast Facts 88110 Fewer than one in five Brits say they get good customer care furthermore, nearly two in five respondents (38%) had stopped doing business with a financial services company as a result of receiving poor customer service. “The survey results clearly show New research sponsored by The Hartford finds that customer service is a critical issue for users of financial service companies: 38% have switched firms as a result of poor service. A mere 19% of British adults who have used financial services firms rated them as ‘good’ or ‘very good' at providing good customer care according to a new survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of Hartford Life, a subsidiary of The Hartford Financial Services Group. The survey, which measured attitudes about customer service from financial services firms other than banks, revealed that, while the British public didn’t rate their financial providers highly on service, it is a key factor when people chose which firms to use. Over three-quarters (76%) of the survey respondents said that customer service was either the number one reason or a key reason why they chose a provider and, that customer service has become a key differentiator in the financial services industry,” said Alistair Murray, Director of Customer Service. “The fact that two out of five people have ended relationships with financial services firms because of poor service is a real eye-opener for the industry and will no doubt prompt a number of providers to review their current customer service capabilities.” The survey results showed that attitudes towards customer care vary with age, but not necessarily in the way many people might suspect. Forget the stereotypes of ‘grumpy old men’ and carefree youth. Of those that have ever used a financial services company (excluding banks), the study revealed that Brits aged 25 to 34 are the most demanding age group from a customer service perspective, with 80 per cent saying that customer care was the most important, or one of the most important, reasons why they choose a particular firm. The group for whom customer service was the least important were those aged 55 and older, with 70% saying it was a key factor in making investment decisions. Fast Facts 88113