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Major banks hand over millions in refunds over unfair fees

<p>Four major Australian banks are set to cough up close to $30 million in refunds to low-income customers after the Federal corporate watchdog revealed a pattern in high fees. </p> <p>A new report from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission revealed ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, as well as mid-tier Bendigo and Adelaide Bank kept at least two million low-income customers in high-fee accounts.</p> <p>Many of these low-income earners rely on Centrelink payments, and were unfairly slapped with unreasonably high fees. </p> <p>The report followed an ASIC review which focused on improving financial outcomes for First Nations customers by addressing avoidable bank fees.</p> <p>“We focused in this project on the banks who were most likely to have First Nations consumers on low incomes trapped in high-fee accounts,” ASIC commissioner Alan Kirkland said.</p> <p>ASIC said the four banks have committed to moving more than 200,000 customers into low-fee accounts, saving them about $10.7 million a year, with the financial institutions also committed to refunding over $28m in fees to these customers over the next 12 to 18 months.</p> <p>This includes $24.6 million to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and apprentices receiving ABSTUDY payments, and customers in areas with significant First Nations populations.</p> <p>“At any time ASIC, and the community, expects that the banks will treat their customers fairly,” Mr Kirkland said.</p> <p>“But that’s particularly important for people on low incomes and for people who are struggling to make ends meet, the last thing they need is to have the very little income that they have being eaten away in unnecessary bank fees.”</p> <p>Mr Kirkland added that the implications of ASIC’s latest review applied to all banks across the country.</p> <p>“We’re expecting all of them to read the report and make improvements to their practices to stop other people being trapped in high-fee accounts that they can’t afford,” Mr Kirkland said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

Money & Banking

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Bruce Lehrmann ordered to pay millions to Network Ten

<p>Bruce Lehrmann has been ordered to pay a whopping $2 million to Network Ten to cover the network's legal fees from his failed defamation lawsuit. </p> <p>Lehrmann's suit against the network, and in turn <em>The Project</em> and Lisa Wilkinson, came to a end when Justice Michael Lee found he had, on the balance of probabilities, raped Brittany Higgins at Parliament House in March 2019.</p> <p>The former Liberal staffer's case was dismissed after Justice Lee concluded he was not defamed by Lisa Wilkinson's tell-all interview with Brittany Higgins on <em>The Project</em> in 2021.</p> <p>Following the conclusion of the case, Lehrmann was ordered to pay Network Ten's astonishing legal fees, returning to court on Thursday to discuss the manner in which they will be paid.</p> <p>Ten’s barrister Zoe Graus on Thursday told the court that the broadcaster had sought a $2m lump-sum payment from Mr Lehrmann which Justice Lee ordered that Lehrmann pay, though he noted Mr Lehrmann was a man of “modest means”.</p> <p>As a result, Mr Lehrmann could be forced into bankruptcy if he fails to meet the hefty costs order.</p> <p>The court was told that Network 10 had offered to pay Ms Wilkinson $607,850 for the journalist’s legal costs, given the fact that she had independent representation during the trial. </p> <p>However, an independent referee will determine the final amount to be paid to Wilkinson. </p> <p><em>Image credits: MICK TSIKAS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock Editorial </em></p>

Legal

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Aussies hit with "hidden fees" for using common payment method

<p>Millions of Aussies have copped up to $1 billion in "hidden fees" for choosing to use one common payment method. </p> <p>Many are unaware about the secret extra charges that come with using the tap-and-go payment method, as millions of customers use it as the preferred way to pay and go. </p> <p>However, according to financial counsellor Scott Pape, also known as The Barefoot Investor, while tapping your card may be easier, it might not be great for your bank account.</p> <p>“What most people don’t know is that, when they tap, their bank generally defaults that payment through Visa or MasterCard, who pays them a fee — instead of defaulting that payment through the much cheaper bank-owned EFTPOS,” Pape said in his column for the <em><a href="https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/business/barefoot-investor/the-common-smartphone-app-thats-ripping-you-off/news-story/0b71afa29c86faf2b938c44f93bbc8d6?amp" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-link-type="article-inline">Daily Telegraph</a></em>.</p> <p>While some businesses choose to absorb the cost, others pass it on to the customer as a surcharge, as Pape says, “Talk about a rort.”</p> <p>According to the Royal Bank of Australia (RBA), Visa and Mastercard are generally more expensive for merchants than the EFTPOS network.</p> <p>Payments through EFTPOS are generally about 0.3 per cent of the transaction value, while Debit Mastercard and Visa Debit may cost many some people about 0.5 per cent.</p> <p>Mastercard and Visa credit could cost customers more than 0.75 per cent of the transaction, while American Express card payments are even more, charging merchants 1 to 1.5 per cent.</p> <p>Thankfully, according to Pape, there are ways to avoid paying the extra fees. </p> <p>If your bank card is attached to your smartphone, you can change the default payment setting.</p> <p>“On an iPhone, open ‘Settings’, go to ‘Wallet & Apple Pay’, then tap your debit card,” Pape said.</p> <p>“Then look for ‘Payment Option’. It will generally have ‘MasterCard’ or ‘Visa’ preselected, but instead you should select ‘EFTPOS SAV’.”</p> <p>This is not allowed on all cards, however, and those who use Android will need to check with their bank if a possible solution exists.</p> <div> </div> <p>The other way to avoid paying the surcharges is to just start inserting or swiping your card again.</p> <p>“I know it’s annoying, but if you swipe and insert your card you can choose ‘cheque’ or ‘savings’ and it’ll go through the EFTPOS system, which at the bigger retailers means you’ll be less likely to be charged,” Pape said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

Money & Banking

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Lisa Wilkinson's hefty legal fees revealed

<p>The eye-watering costs of Lisa Wilkinson's legal battle against Bruce Lehrmann after he unsuccessfully sued her for defamation has been revealed.</p> <p>Lehrmann took Wilkinson and her former employer Network Ten to court following the airing of allegations by Brittany Higgins that she was raped in Parliament House in 2019.</p> <p>The defamation suit was lost by Lehrmann in April after Justice Michael Lee found that Lehrmann had, on the balance of probabilities, assaulted Ms Higgins, therefore cannot be defamed for the allegations. </p> <p>Ms Wilkinson has now returned to court in an attempt to recuperate approximately $1.8 million in legal fees from Network 10 after she decided to be represented separately to her former employer. </p> <p>Documents released by the Federal Court on Thursday reveal the eye-watering cost behind Ms Wilkinson’s defence by high-profile defamation lawyer Sue Chrysanthou SC.</p> <p>The documents detail numerous invoices issued to Ms Wilkinson throughout the years-long legal battle; the most recent being an invoice dated May 9th for $405,328.</p> <p>The fee is listed as being for Ms Sue Chrysanthou‘s counsel; similar fees dating back to mid-2023 ranged in size from $10,340 to $97,988 before GST was added.</p> <p>The largest single invoice issued to Ms Wilkinson was dated February 29th 2024 and amounted to a whopping $576,224.72 after GST, which included news subscriptions and lunches. </p> <p>Early costs agreements sent to Gillis Delaney Lawyers, who Ms Wilkinson had retained to represent her, and Ms Chrysanthou quoted fees of $8,000 per day.</p> <p>A range of other expenditures are included in the documents, including thousands of dollars for printing and folders, USB drives, and subscriptions to <em>The Australian</em>.</p> <p>A referee is expected to be appointed for certain items that the Network claims did not come under legal costs, with Justice Lee foreshadowing a similar process for costs being asked of Mr Lehrmann.</p> <p>In earlier written submissions, Network 10 said it did not have to pick up the bill for Ms Wilkinson’s legal costs which were “unnecessarily duplicative or wasteful”.</p> <p>The referee, called for by Network 10, will be tasked with combing through the legal bills incurred by the former <em>The Project</em> host to decide whether the costs were reasonable, and whether she would be compensated.</p> <p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-ddba61a4-7fff-2ae6-53fc-4cc05f56fefb">Image credits: Steven Markham/Speed Media - MICK TSIKAS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock Editorial</span></em></p>

Legal

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Cafe targeted online for charging customer a "heating fee"

<p>A cafe in Melbourne has copped a wave of backlash online after allegedly charging a customer to heat up his muffin for breakfast. </p> <p>The disgruntled diner took to Facebook to complain about the extra fee on his $7 muffin at the cafe and claimed the first he knew of it was when he saw it on his receipt.</p> <p>His post went viral with hundreds of people slamming café etiquette and urging him to go to the ACCC.</p> <p>"A f***ing dollar to heat my muffin? It's cr*p like this that just makes you shake your head and question where it is all going," the customer wrote in his original post.</p> <p>The cafe has since hit back at the post, and the angry customer who wrote it, saying the extra charge had been an error despite Heat Standard $1.00 being written on the receipt.</p> <p>They also said the customer could have simply solved the issue in person rather than blasting them online.</p> <p>"We do not nor have we ever charged for any heating of our wonderful baked treats," the café spokesperson told <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/real-life/article-13465591/Melbourne-cafe-targeted-angry-mob-charging-1-heating-fee-muffin-Aussies-reveal-hidden-charges-theyve-hit-amid-cost-living-crisis.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Daily Mail Australia</em></a>.</p> <p>"Unfortunately this has become a mountain of an issue that could have easily been resolved without a lynch mob caused by negligence at the hands of an influential keyboard warrior who ironically sells the idea of spiritual life practices and being grounded yet flipped out over a muffin."</p> <p>The original post racked up more than 870 comments before it was deleted, and more than 1,000 reactions.</p> <p>Some of those who saw it went on to slam the cafe by sending them threatening messages, commenting on posts on Instagram and calling their business phone to hurl abuse. </p> <p>"It's a sad world when a local cafe that aims for nothing more then customer satisfaction and community values to be upheld gets threatening messages from rogue vigilantes about wanting to see us go out of business over a muffin being prepared and served to quality standards," the cafe owners said.</p> <p>The cafe responded to the growing backlash online by announcing their muffins would be free on Tuesday.</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font" style="margin: 0px 0px 16px; padding: 0px; min-height: 0px;"><em>Image credits: Facebook / Shutterstock </em></p>

Travel Trouble

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"A little bit steep": Jetstar passenger hit with "wild" excess baggage fee

<p>A Jetstar passenger has been slapped with a "wild" excess baggage fee after her luggage was less than just one kilogram overweight. </p> <p>Monique McCreanor was flying from Melbourne to Sydney after competing in a fitness competition when she was hit with the unexpected fees. </p> <p>Travelling with only carry-on luggage, Ms. McCreanor said she made a mad dash to the airport to catch her flight, only to be stopped at the gate due to the weight of her bag.</p> <p>Because of the prizes she won at the competition, her bag was just 900g over the 7kg limit, and she was issued a $75 fine.</p> <p>Ms. McCreanor took to TikTok to share a warning with other travellers to triple check the weight of your bag, as even being over the limit by mere grams will set you back. </p> <p>“This isn’t a complaint, this is merely just warning you guys,” she said in the clip. </p> <p>“If you do fly with Jetstar on a domestic flight, and your bag is even 100g overweight, you’re going to get charged $75 at the gate for that excess luggage."</p> <p>“Now, this kind of sucks, because I’m like damn, I could have had 15kg in this bag to really make it worthwhile."</p> <p>“I got hit with $75, so just make sure are booking the extra checked baggage, it is better to be safe than sorry, because $75 is a little bit steep for just 900g overweight.”</p> <p>While her video quickly garnered thousands of views, many were left divided in the comments about her complaints. </p> <p>One person sided with the airline, saying, “No sorry, it clearly gives a weight allowance. You went over, you pay.”</p> <p>“Seriously it doesn’t matter who you are with, you will have to pay any way, they are the rules,” another added.</p> <p>Others were quick to empathise, sharing their own experience of encountering excess baggage fees.</p> <p>“They did this to me on my honeymoon... I was p****d,” one person said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: TikTok</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Restaurant sparks outrage for "ridiculous" fee

<p>As inflation rates continue to rise it is not surprising that restaurants are charging extra fees, but one disgruntled customer was particularly shocked to see this "ridiculous" fee on their bill. </p> <p>The customer, who dined at restaurant and cocktail bar in Georgia, USA shamed the restaurant for charging their customers a $20 fee for “live band entertainment”.</p> <p>They shared their complaints on Reddit with a copy of their receipt and an unexpected fee at the bottom which read: “Two Live Band Entertainment Fee — $20”.</p> <p>Most people in the comments were equally annoyed and called the fee "ridiculous". </p> <p>“This is one of those leave money on the table, hand the waiter a tip and leave, sorry but if I didn’t order it, I’m not paying for it,” one wrote. </p> <p>“Great way to not have repeat customers,” said another.</p> <p>“This will backfire for them, just be honest and upfront," a third added. </p> <p>Other commenters were less sympathetic and did not understand why the customer was complaining when it looked like they could afford it. </p> <p>“When you’re paying seven dollars for a bottle of water, you really don’t get to complain about ‘unexpected costs.’ You knew what you signed up for," one commenter wrote. </p> <p>“Imagine a live band getting paid, huh,” another added. </p> <p>“They’re buying $7 bottles of water, they can probably afford it,” added a third.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty/ Reddit</em></p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

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Big W customer gobsmacked over $4000 shipping fee

<p>A Big W customer was only trying to buy an outdoor play set for her kids but got the shock of her life when she saw the "ridiculous" shipping fee that was over three times the cost of the play set. </p> <p>The Singleton mum had added the $1,200 item to her cart while shopping online and was about to check out when she was greeted with a $4,466 shipping fee. </p> <p>"How in God's name can they charge $4,466 for delivery! Big W are slowly losing my vote!" the outraged mum wrote on Facebook, even swearing off the department store for the apparent money grab. </p> <p>According to the Big W website, the play set is sent via Plum Play, a "trusted partner", and not by Big W stores, and because the woman lives in a rural area, she initially believed that was the reason for the extortionate shipping costs. </p> <p>A few other shoppers criticised the high fee. </p> <p>"That is fricken ridiculous!!!! No one would pay that," one said. </p> <p>"Jesus, are you ordering a few pallets of bricks? No way normal merchandise would cost that much to send," another wrote. </p> <p>A few others questioned the weight of the item and where she lived, while others tried to buy the same item and got even higher shipping fees. </p> <p>"It jumped a few grand for a couple of ks for me," one wrote, with the cost of standard delivery for the play set at $7,858. </p> <p>Some reported fees of up to $50,000, but most were $7,000 to $10,000. </p> <p>The department store has addressed the issue and told <em>Yahoo News Australia</em> that an "error on the website" was to blame. </p> <p>They have since corrected the delivery charges which should have been about $100 for the woman's location. </p> <p>"We were made aware of a delivery calculation error on our website which has since been resolved. We apologise for any inconvenience this has caused," a spokesperson told the publication. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Money & Banking

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"Other cities will follow": Big trouble ahead for SUV owners

<p>Paris residents have voted to charge SUVs triple the cost of parking compared to standard sized cars in a bid to tackle air pollution and improve safety. </p> <p>54.6 per cent of residents voted to pass the plan, with the new parking tariffs expected to start in September. </p> <p>The price increase will apply to on-street parking for vehicles with combustion or hybrid engines weighing more than 1.6 tonnes and electric vehicles weighing over two tonnes.</p> <p>The change means that the vehicles will pay €18 (A$29.69) an hour for parking in the centre of Paris, up from €6 (A$9.90), and €12 (A$19.79) an hour in the rest of the city, up from €4 (A$6.60).</p> <p>"Parisians have made a clear choice … other cities will follow,” Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said. </p> <p>Experts are onboard with the move and believe the Australia should do the same thing. </p> <p>Urban access consultant and author of the book<em> Rethinking Parking</em> David Mepham said that the move could help improve safety as: “SUVs are actually some of the most unsafe vehicles on the road for pedestrians with a fatality rate that is significantly higher than other vehicles.”</p> <p>“The injury and fatality rate should be a concern in highly pedestrianised areas such as city centres.”</p> <p>In 2022 alone, SUV and light commercial vehicles made up 76.8 per cent of car sales, coming in eighth on the top 10 vehicle sales according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.</p> <p>With spaces in the cities limited, Mepham added: “If you’ve got a larger car you should expect to pay more for that, you should pay for what you use.”</p> <p>Standards Australia has recently proposed to increase the size of off-street parking spaces by 20 centimetres in Australia, from 5.4 metres to 5.6 metres, which would make it easier for larger vehicles to park, but would limit car spaces. </p> <p>Executive director of the Australia Institute, Richard Dennis also said that SUV owners need to face the consequences of owning a larger vehicle. </p> <p>“If we want to drive much bigger cars, are we going to widen all of our city streets, are we going to have less car parking spaces?” he said.</p> <p>“Because if we want to drive these cars we need to own the consequences.”</p> <p>Marion Terrill, an independent transport expert, also agreed that higher parking fees for large vehicles are “absolutely reasonable.”</p> <p>“If you want more of it you can pay more, it’s the same principle as paying for parking at all," she said. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Lisa Wilkinson's fears over losing her home

<p>Lisa Wilkinson's fears over losing her multi-million dollar mansion to cover her legal fees have been detailed in a series of court documents. </p> <p>The former host of <em>The Project</em> entered into a bitter legal battle after being sued for defamation by Bruce Lehrmann, and decided to hire top defamation lawyer Sue Chrysanthou SC and her own legal team to fight the charges. </p> <p>In a series of emotional emails and documents tendered by the Federal Court, Wilkinson was allegedly "almost hysterical" and "sobbing" over the notion of losing her home in Cremorne to pay the hefty legal fees. </p> <p>In a briefing note prepared for Ten’s legal team, Network Ten CEO Beverley McGarvey detailed a “challenging” call she had with the network star on June 7th 2023.</p> <p>McGarvey had called to ask how Ms Wilkinson was going in the wake of Channel 7’s <em>Spotlight</em> program and the leaking of audio provided to police and lawyers but never tendered in court.</p> <p>“Lisa was very upset and emotional and it was a very challenging call,” MsMcGarvey wrote.</p> <p>“She was almost immediately upset and started talking about legal fees and how she would have to sell her house."</p> <p>“I would say her tone was almost hysterical.”</p> <p>McGarvey then did her best to ease Wilkinson's concerns, reminding her of her secure financial position. </p> <p>“She is being paid by us on full salary, and lives in a lavish multimillion dollar home with a pool and a tennis court and harbour views so I hope this is not a real risk,” she said.</p> <p>“She asked if we would pay for her fees and this came up over and over again in the conversation. I told her to talk with Nick, her manager."</p> <p>“But she had chosen her own legal team against our advice and chosen a team we objected to.</p> <p>“She said if I actually cared about her, I would make sure we pay their legal fees.”</p> <p>The documents were released by the Federal Court on Friday after Ms Wilkinson won her legal battle to force Network Ten to pay for her legal fees that are estimated to amount to up to $2 million.</p> <p>The exact amount Ten will pay has not yet been determined.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Legal

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"No empathy": Grandmother kicked off flight over unpaid fee

<p>An outraged father has unleashed over Jetstar's decision to remove his mother-in-law and children from a flight over an unpaid fee. </p> <p>Father of three Jay Tee took to social media to slam the airline over their treatment of his family on their flight from the Gold Coast to Melbourne. </p> <p>Tee's kids were being accompanied on the flight by their grandmother, who was informed she needed to pay a $35 fee to check in a bag. </p> <p>The woman forgot to pay the fee before boarding, on what was her second time ever on a plane. </p> <p>Tee was then contacted by the airline after his family had boarded and was told they would not be allowed to travel if the charge wasn’t paid for within 10 minutes. </p> <p>“They informed me I had 10 minutes to pay $35 or else they would be removed from the flight extra fees would accur (sic) for holding up the flight,” he said.</p> <p>“I hung up transferred funds and rang back within four minutes. Jetstar did not take payment and had removed my mother-in-law from the flight altogether leaving her and 3 kids stranded at Gold Coast airport no water no food.”</p> <p>The father slammed the airline for “disgusting service” that was “the worst I have ever been treated” by a company.</p> <p>“My anger is not with the payment for luggage, it is how my mother-in-law and three kids under 10 were treated.”</p> <p>The airline confirmed the family were removed from the flight, with a spokesperson saying the airline was trying to contact Mr Tee for more information.</p> <p>“We’re really sorry to hear about the customers’ experience and are reaching out to get a better understanding about what happened,” the spokesperson said.</p> <p>The airline went on to say they had no record of any payment being made, while also clarifying they asked the elderly woman to move to the service desk multiple times to pay the fee, but she didn't.</p> <p>Mr Tee says he was then forced to pay another $600 to book the group on the next flight to Melbourne with discount airline Bonza.</p> <p>The situation stirred up debate on social media, with some blaming the woman for the mishap.</p> <p>“I don’t understand how this is anybody but the mother in laws fault, She would have checked bags in then should have walked over and paid for the excess, not boarded the plane,” one person wrote.</p> <p>But others defended her, and the fact the charge was paid by Mr Tee.</p> <p>“Would have thought Jetstar could have helped in some way, but that sums up Jetstar’s customer service for you. No empathy what so ever.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook / Getty Images </em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

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Parents slapped with hefty fee over badly behaved children

<p dir="ltr">Two parents have been slapped with a hefty fine tacked onto their restaurant bill after their children caused a ruckus during dinner. </p> <p dir="ltr">Kyle and Lyndsey Landmann were dining at a restaurant in Georgia, USA, when they were given a $50 fine for their allegedly badly behaved kids. </p> <p dir="ltr">Two weeks after the incident, Kyle took to Google to leave a negative review for the eatery to say he was “disappointed by the experience”. </p> <p dir="ltr">“The owner came out and told me he was adding $50 to my bill because of my children’s behaviour,” he wrote. </p> <p dir="ltr">“My kids watched a tablet until the food arrived, ate their food and my wife took them outside while I waited and paid the bill.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Lyndsey went on to tell <em>Today</em> that her kids were well behaved, although they were joined by other families, with 11 children in total at the table. </p> <p dir="ltr">“The kids were sitting at one end of the table and they were being so good,” Landmann said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“'I even commented halfway through the meal, ‘I can’t believe how well-behaved they are’.”</p> <p dir="ltr">After dinner, restaurant owner Tim Richter approached the table and told the party about the additional charge on the menu, which reads, “Adult surcharge: For adults unable to parent.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“Be Respectful to staff, property, and self. No Respect, No Service.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Landmann said she was expecting a compliment for the well behaved kids, but Richter said there would be $50 added to each bill at their table. </p> <p dir="ltr">When Landmann then asked for an explanation, she claimed Richter told her they were being “too loud”.</p> <p dir="ltr">He was angry that the kids were “running around outside” by the water after dinner, even though they were chaperoned by adults, she clarified.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I was like, ‘They were quiet the whole time’. He got in our faces and told us that we belonged at Burger King and not at his restaurant. We asked to speak to the owner and he said he was the owner,” Landmann explained.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I looked around the restaurant and everybody was frozen watching this show he was putting on. He was yelling.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The 61-year-old restaurant owner said that he implemented the rule during the pandemic, but never actually charged the couple, saying, “We want parents to be parents.”</p> <p dir="ltr">However, several other Google reviews blasted the quality of the service and the owner's attitude, including one that warns diners with children to steer clear.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

Money & Banking

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An entry fee may not be enough to save Venice from 20 million tourists

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sameer-hosany-292658">Sameer Hosany</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/royal-holloway-university-of-london-795">Royal Holloway University of London</a></em></p> <p>Venice’s history, art and architecture attract an estimated <a href="https://www.responsibletravel.com/copy/overtourism-in-venice">20 million</a> visitors every year. The city, a <a href="https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/document?repid=rep1&amp;type=pdf&amp;doi=ac36ced945412121372dc892cc31498fb268247c">Unesco World Heritage site</a>, is often crammed with tourists in search of special <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/mar.21665">memories</a>.</p> <p>But for the people who actually live there, this level of tourism has become unsustainable. So from 2024, day-trippers will be charged a €5 (£4.31) fee as part of an <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/12/world/europe/venice-tourist-fee-italy.html#:%7E:text=The%20City%20Council%20passed%20an,popular%20but%20equally%20fragile%20place.&amp;text=Starting%20next%20spring%2C%20day%2Dtrippers,5%20euros%20for%20the%20privilege.">attempt</a> to better manage the flow of visitors.</p> <p>The city’s mayor has <a href="https://travelweekly.co.uk/news/tourism/controversial-e5-venice-tourist-tax-finally-approved">described the charge</a> – which will be implemented on 30 particularly busy days in the spring and summer – as an attempt to “protect the city from mass tourism”. It comes after cruise ships were banned from entering the fragile Venice lagoon in 2021.</p> <p>Both policies are designed to respond to the particular problem facing Venice, which is that <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jul/02/venice-day-trippers-will-have-to-make-reservations-and-pay-fee">around 80%</a> of its tourists come just for the day. Research has shown that such a high proportion of day-trippers – who tend to spend little – <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0160738395000658">pushes</a> a tourist destination <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1541-0064.1980.tb00970.x">towards decline</a>.</p> <p>So from next year, all travellers to Venice will have to register their visit in advance and obtain a QR code online. Day trippers will then have to pay the fee; visitors staying overnight will not.</p> <p>Other exemptions include children under 14, as well as people who travel to the city for work and study, or to visit family members. To enforce the policy, the municipal police and authorised inspectors will carry out random checks. Anyone without the proper QR code will face a fine of up to €300 (£261).</p> <p>But some have expressed doubts about whether the €5 fee – the price of a coffee or an ice cream – will be enough to dissuade tourists from travelling to this iconic ancient city. One city politician <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/12/world/europe/venice-tourist-fee-italy.html">commented</a> that the charge means Venice has become “a theme park, a Disneyland,” where “you get in by paying an entrance fee.”</p> <p>Certainly the charge is a lot less than Bhutan’s (recently reduced) “sustainable development fee” of <a href="https://globetrender.com/2023/09/17/bhutan-woos-more-tourists-reduced-entry-tax/">US$100 (£82) per night</a>, which applies to all tourists, and was introduced to encourage “high value, low impact” tourism. Research also indicates that strategies aiming at persuading tourists to come at less crowded times <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/book/9780080436746/seasonality-in-tourism">do not reduce numbers</a> at peak periods, but actually end up increasing overall demand.</p> <h2>‘Veniceland’</h2> <p>But Venice has to try something. For <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/11/24/6937">researchers</a>, Venice is the embodiment of <a href="https://www.cabidigitallibrary.org/doi/book/10.1079/9781786399823.0000">overtourism</a>, and residents clearly suffer from the consequences – living with the congestion, environmental damage and affects on their lifestyle and culture that 20 million visitors can cause.</p> <p>This can then lead to a negative response, known as “<a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/348605007_Overtourism_and_Tourismphobia_A_Journey_Through_Five_Decades_of_Tourism_Development_Planning_and_Local_Concerns">tourismphobia</a>”.Another term, “<a href="https://dokufest.com/en/festival/2013/cities-beyond-borders/das-venedig-prinzip-the-venice-syndrome#:%7E:text=The%20film%20shows%20what%20remains,municipal%20council%20with%20scorn%3B%20a">Venice Syndrome</a>” has been used to describe the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264275123001816#:%7E:text=It%20explains%20the%20data%2Dgathering,between%20urban%20form%20conditions%20and">decline of the city’s</a> permanent population, as citizens feel forced to leave.</p> <p>Venice’s population is around 50,000 and has been consistently falling, from a peak of <a href="https://www.blueguides.com/venice-in-peril/">175,000</a>. If the population falls below 40,000, there is concern that Venice will cease to be a <a href="https://www.responsibletravel.com/copy/overtourism-in-venice">viable living city</a>.</p> <p>Those who remain have often expressed their discontent. Well publicised protests have included the “<a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venice-funeral-idUKTRE5AD1DQ20091114">Funeral of Venice</a>” in 2009, a mock funeral to mourn the sharp drop in population, and “<a href="https://scholarworks.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1065&amp;context=anthro_theses">Welcome to Veniceland</a>” in 2010, which claimed that Venice was becoming more of a theme park.</p> <p>And while “tourist taxes” <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14616688.2019.1669070">remain popular strategies</a> to address overtourism, their effectiveness remains debatable. Instead, research suggests that a <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14616688.2019.1669070">combination</a> of specific economic measures (like fees and variable pricing) and non-economic policies (such as educating visitors) is the best option.</p> <p>That combination needs to be specially designed for each destination. There can be no one-size-fits-all solution. A <a href="https://www.e-unwto.org/doi/pdf/10.18111/9789284420070">report</a> by the World Tourism Organisation on overtourism identifies 11 different strategies and 68 measures to manage visitors’ growth in urban destinations.</p> <p>Barcelona, often seen as a city which has done well in handling mass tourism, has successfully used a <a href="https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/216242/1/CESifo-Forum-2019-03-p20-24.pdf">well targeted approach</a>. This has included harnessing new technology to develop a data driven management system to control visitor flows and overcrowding. It also deliberately engaged with the public when deciding on policies, and came up with specific strategies like limiting the number of new souvenir shops.</p> <p>But it did not resort to charging an entrance fee. Venice will be the first city in the world to do so – and other locations struggling with mass tourism will be keeping a close eye on whether such a bold move turns out to be a success.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/213703/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sameer-hosany-292658"><em>Sameer Hosany</em></a><em>, Professor of Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/royal-holloway-university-of-london-795">Royal Holloway University of London</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/an-entry-fee-may-not-be-enough-to-save-venice-from-20-million-tourists-213703">original article</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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Junk fees and drip pricing: the underhanded tactics we hate yet still fall for

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ralf-steinhauser-1459112">Ralf Steinhauser</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em></p> <p>You see a fantastic offer, like a hotel room. You decide to book. Then it turns out there is a service fee. Then a cleaning fee. Then a few other extra costs. By the time you pay the final price, it is no longer the fantastic offer you thought.</p> <p>Welcome to the world of drip pricing – the practice of advertising something at an attractive headline price and then, once you’ve committed to the purchase process, hitting you with unavoidable extra fees that are incrementally disclosed, or “dripped”.</p> <p>Drip pricing – a type of “junk fee” – is notorious in event and travel ticketing, and is creeping into other areas, such as movie tickets. My daughter, for example, was surprised to find her ticket to the Barbie movie had a “booking fee”, increasing the cost of her ticket by 13%.</p> <p>It seems like such an annoying trick that you may wonder why sellers do it. The reason is because it works, due to two fundamental cognitive biases: the way we value the present over the future; and the way we hate losses more than we love gains.</p> <h2>Present bias preference: why starting over feels too costly</h2> <p>In the case of booking that hotel room, you could abandon the transaction and look for something cheaper once the extra charges become apparent. But there’s a good chance you won’t, due to the effort and time involved.</p> <p>This is where the trap lies.</p> <p>Resistance to the idea of starting the search all over again is not simply a matter of laziness or indecision. There’s a profound psychological mechanism at play here, called a present-bias preference – that we value things immediately in front of us more than things more distant in the future.</p> <p>In their seminal 1999 paper, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.89.1.103">Doing it now or later</a>, economists Mathew Rabin and Ted O'Donoghue define present-biased preference as “the human tendency to grab immediate rewards and to avoid immediate costs”.</p> <p>They give the example of choosing between doing seven hours of unpleasant activity on April 1 or eight hours two weeks later. If asked about this a few months beforehand, most people will choose the earlier option. “But come April 1, given the same choice, most of us are apt to put off work till April 15.”</p> <p>In simple terms, the inconvenience and effort of doing something “right now” often feels disproportionately large.</p> <p>Drip pricing exploits this cognitive bias by getting you to make a decision and commit to the transaction process. When you’re far into a complicated booking process and extra prices get added, starting all over again feels like a burden.</p> <p>Often enough, this means you’ll settle for the higher-priced hotel room.</p> <h2>Loss aversion: buying more expensive tickets</h2> <p>Beyond the challenge of starting over, there’s another subtle force at work when it comes to our spending decisions. Drip pricing doesn’t just capitalise on our desire for immediate rewards; it also plays on our innate fear of losing out.</p> <p>This second psychological phenomenon that drip pricing exploits is known as loss aversion – that we feel more pain from losing something than pleasure from gaining the same thing.</p> <p>The concept of loss aversion was first outlined by economists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/1914185">a 1979 paper</a> that is the third most-cited article in economics.</p> <hr /> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/543635/original/file-20230821-25-mca6ku.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/543635/original/file-20230821-25-mca6ku.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=497&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/543635/original/file-20230821-25-mca6ku.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=497&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/543635/original/file-20230821-25-mca6ku.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=497&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/543635/original/file-20230821-25-mca6ku.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=624&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/543635/original/file-20230821-25-mca6ku.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=624&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/543635/original/file-20230821-25-mca6ku.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=624&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="A graphic representation of loss aversion. The pain from losing a good or service will be greater than the pleasure from gaining the same good or service." /><figcaption><span class="caption">How economists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky graphically represented loss aversion. The pain from losing a good or service is greater than the pleasure from gaining the same good or service.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk, Econometrica, Vol. 47, No. 2</span></span></figcaption></figure> <hr /> <p>Drip pricing exploits this tendency, by dragging us away from more “rational” choices.</p> <p>Imagine you’re booking tickets for a show. Initially attracted by the observed headline price, you are now presented with different seating categories. Seeing the “VIP” are within your budget, you decide to splurge.</p> <p>But then, during the checkout process, the drip of extra costs begins. You realise you could have opted for lower-category seats and stayed within your budget. But by this stage you’ve already changed your expectation and imagined yourself enjoying the show from those nice seats.</p> <p>Going back and booking cheaper seats will feel like a loss.</p> <h2>Do consumers need protection?</h2> <p>Empirical evidence supports the above theoretical predictions about the impact of drop pricing on consumers.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.21426">A 2020 study</a> quantified how much consumers dislike the lack of transparency in drip pricing (based on tracking the reactions of 225 undergraduates using fictional airline and hotel-booking websites). The authors liken the practice to the “taximeter effect” – the discomfort consumers feel watching costs accumulate.</p> <p>But drip pricing’s effectiveness from a seller’s perspective is undeniable. A <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2020.04.007">experimental study</a> published in 2020 found drip pricing generates higher profits while lowering the “consumer surplus” (the benefit derived from buying a product or service). A <a href="https://doi.org/10.1287/mksc.2020.1261">2021 analysis</a> of data from StubHub, a US website for reselling tickets, calculated drip pricing increased revenue by 20%.</p> <p>Which is why the tactic remains attractive to businesses despite customers disliking it.</p> <p>Buyers would benefit from a ban of drip pricing. Many countries are taking steps to protect consumers from drip pricing.</p> <p>The UK government, for example, announced a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/aug/21/growth-of-airlines-add-on-fees-sparks-calls-for-price-reforms">review of drip pricing</a> in June, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak flagging the possibility of measures to curb the practice. The US government is also considering <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/06/15/president-biden-recognizes-actions-by-private-sector-ticketing-and-travel-companies-to-eliminate-hidden-junk-fees-and-provide-millions-of-customers-with-transparent-pricing/">new regulations</a>, with President Joe Biden denouncing “junk fees” in his <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2023/02/07/remarks-of-president-joe-biden-state-of-the-union-address-as-prepared-for-delivery/">2023 State of the Union address</a>. Proposed changes include requiring airlines and online booking services to disclose the full ticket price upfront, inclusive of baggage and other fees.</p> <p>The effectiveness of measures, however, is <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4430453">still being debated</a>.</p> <p>In the meantime, your principal protection is making a more informed decision, by understanding why the tactic works. Bargains may attract you, but you can learn to not fall for hidden costs and align your choices with your budget and values.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/211117/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ralf-steinhauser-1459112">Ralf Steinhauser</a>, Senior Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty </em><em>Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/junk-fees-and-drip-pricing-the-underhanded-tactics-we-hate-yet-still-fall-for-211117">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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"Unbelievable but true": Tourist outraged over shocking restaurant fee

<p>A tourist in Italy has been hit with a shocking fee from an upscale eatery after he asked for his sandwich to be cut in half. </p> <p>The anonymous man was travelling in Italy's picturesque Lake Como region, and stopped in at Bar Pace in Gera Lario, at the lake’s northern end, for a vegetarian sandwich and fries for lunch. </p> <p>Travelling with a friend, the man asked for the meal to be cut in half so they could share.</p> <p>After polishing off their lunch, the traveller was shocked when he was given the bill, noticing a charge he had never seen before. </p> <p>The man paid without arguing, but later took to TripAdvisor to leave a negative review. </p> <p>“Unbelievable but true,” the man captioned a photo of the receipt on TripAdvisor.</p> <p>The receipt lists the sandwich for €7.50 ($12.60), Coca Cola for €3.50 ($5.90), water for €1.50 ($2.50) and espresso for €1.20 ($2), along with the debated “diviso da meta”, or “cutting in half” fee, amounting to 2 euros, or $3.40.</p> <p>The confused customer gave the restaurant one star on TripAdvisor, far below the average of four and a half stars, based on over 100 reviews.</p> <p>After the review garnered a lot of unexpected attention, the restaurant's owner defended the fee to a local news outlet. </p> <p>“Additional requests have a cost,” owner Cristina Biacchi told <em>La Repubblica</em>.</p> <p>“We had to use two plates instead of one and the time to wash them is doubled, and then two placemats. It wasn’t a simple toasted sandwich, there were also French fries inside. It took us time to cut it in two.”</p> <p>She also noted that the customer did not complain or question the charge and clarified that she would have removed the charge from the bill, if someone had raised an issue. </p> <p>The extra charge is not unheard of in expensive cities and popular tourist destinations, with some cities in the United States are sometimes hitting diners with a share charge, or a split plate charge, to make up for the lower check average at a table, while some New York City eateries even ban the practice of sharing all together.</p> <p><em>Image credit: TripAdvisor</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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“A lesson learned”: Uni student lands herself in an overdue book nightmare

<p dir="ltr">A university graduate student received the shock of her academic career when an email arrived in her inbox to inform her she owed her school’s library a whopping $11,900 in overdue book fines. </p> <p dir="ltr">Hannah took to TikTok to share her story, posting a snippet of the horror email, and the news that her library account had amassed a debt of “$11,9000 owed for 119 lost books”. The books had been declared lost, though Hannah was quick to note that she was “still using” each of them, and had every intention of returning them once she was finished with her studies. </p> <p dir="ltr">To drive home the fact that the books were not missing, and instead safely in her scholarly possession, Hannah panned around the various piles of tomes stacked around her home, with a caption reading “the books aren’t lost, I’m just hoarding them until I finish my dissertation.” </p> <p dir="ltr">The email itself explained the books were marked as lost in the library’s system if they exceeded 30 days overdue, and that there was a flat rate of $100 per book in such instances. And according to the library, it was up to each patron to renew their books, and that Hannah “received overdue notices on the following dates prompting you to renew your library books before they are declared lost.”</p> <p dir="ltr">As she explained to <em>The Daily Dot</em>, she had checked out her collection three years prior while she’d been preparing for exams, and confirmed that she had received four reminders to either renew or return the books, but she’d put it off each time. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Then I got the automatic email,” she added, “saying all of the books were marked as lost and my account was charged $100 per book.” </p> <p dir="ltr">Hannah’s woe drew a mixed response from her audience, with some surprised that her library had even let her withdraw that many books in the first place, others unable to wrap their heads around the fact she could have let her situation get so bad, and many quick to defend the librarian, who they declared had only been doing her job. </p> <p dir="ltr">“My library only lets me check out 5 books at a time,” one wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr">“That’s why keeping library books past their due date is considered stealing,” another said, to which Hannah responded to promise her lesson had been learned. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Only 30 days over due??? Damn give a lil more time,” said one, with Hannah informing them that she’d had the books for years by that point. </p> <p dir="ltr">It wasn’t all bad for the budding scholar though, with Hannah explaining in another comment that “it was hunky dory”, as the library had waived her fees as soon as she’d responded to them, and that she’d been allowed to keep all 119 for an additional year. </p> <p dir="ltr">And, as she told another follower, “I’ve never replied to an email faster.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: TikTok</em></p>

Books

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Travelling abroad? Don’t be tempted to pay your way using your home currency

<p>Part of the joy of travelling comes from experiencing the unfamiliar – a different climate, culture or cuisine. But when it comes to paying for things abroad, we might feel more comfortable using the currency we are most familiar with, the one we use at home.</p> <p>This has recently become a common – and expensive – option for tourists withdrawing money from cash machines, or paying electronically in shops and restaurants. </p> <p>When a restaurant bill arrives for example, foreign customers may be offered the choice on the card reader to pay in their home currency rather than the local one. This feature, known as “dynamic currency conversion” or “currency choice” sounds appealing at first – a service which has done the hard work for you, converting the bill to a currency you understand, giving you a better idea of how much money you are spending. </p> <p>But it comes at a price – as the fees charged for this convenience can be exorbitant. In fact, <a href="https://fil.forbrukerradet.no/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/input-from-ncc-to-the-european-commission-on-dcc-30062017.pdf">one study</a> shows that the average fee applied to this kind of conversion is a whopping 7.6%, more than double the cost of paying in the local currency (usually between 1.5% and 3%). </p> <p>So suppose a French traveller goes out for dinner in a British town, and the final bill comes to £88.43, the equivalent of €100. Paying in UK currency, which would then converted to euros by the French diner’s bank, would lead to a payment of around €102. But using the dynamic currency conversion to pay the restaurant bill directly in euros would end up costing them €107.60.</p> <p>Despite the high fees, <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/07439156231157721">our research shows</a> that more than half of international customers still choose to pay in their familiar home currency. The most obvious explanation for this is an understandable preference for the familiar when dealing with money abroad.</p> <p>But it is also true that the fees are not explicitly shown to customers. That is, tourists may see the applied exchange rate, but they are not shown the hidden fees or how that exchange rate compares with others. </p> <p>And while expensive for tourists, the currency choice “service” can be highly lucrative for those who operate it. The companies which provide dynamic currency conversion options earn significant conversion revenues – a portion of which is often shared with the business where the transaction takes place.</p> <p><a href="https://www.electronicpaymentsinternational.com/opinion/dcc-routing-revenues-away-from-issuer-into-acquirers-pockets/">Sources indicate</a> that extra revenues for retailers come to around 1% of the transaction value. We have also been told of well known department stores training employees to actively encourage foreign customers to pay for purchases in their home currency.</p> <h2>Greater transparency</h2> <p>And despite the high conversion fees involved with dynamic currency conversion, most government regulators around the world have been hesitant to intervene. One possible reason for this is that regulation would be seen as potentially hitting the profits of local businesses. </p> <p>The exception is the European Union (EU), which considers excessive transaction costs <a href="https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32021R1230">to be a barrier</a> to the development of businesses and aims to protect European consumers. </p> <p>The latest <a href="https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32021R1230">EU regulations</a> (not yet enforced) aim to enhance transparency by including extra information about the costs of currency choice on card readers and ATMs. </p> <p>This is a step in the right direction. But we would in fact encourage a reduction in the amount of information to make things simpler, so that customers are made aware purely of the percentage fee being added if they choose to pay in their own currency. We also think there should be maximum conversion charges to protect unaware customers from excessive fees.</p> <p>With the continued growth of international travel, it is crucial to find ways to help people make informed financial decisions when dealing with exchange rates and making payments outside of their currency zone.</p> <p>But for now, travellers are likely to spend more of their money abroad than they need to, because of something they intuitively feel will make a transaction simpler and less time consuming. </p> <p>So if you’re on holiday or travelling for work, our advice is to decline the option of paying in your home currency and instead opt for the more reasonable conversion fees charged by your bank. Your travel experience could end up much cheaper if you do.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/travelling-abroad-dont-be-tempted-to-pay-your-way-using-your-home-currency-202795" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

Travel Tips

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Man’s desperate attempt to avoid baggage fees goes viral

<p dir="ltr">One man’s plight to avoid excess baggage fees has been caught on camera and gone viral. </p> <p dir="ltr">In the video, the male passenger can be seen kicking and shoving his bag into the luggage size checker as an airline staffer looked on.</p> <p dir="ltr">The man’s desperate efforts amused those around him, with giggling being heard in the background from fellow travellers, including the person filming.</p> <p dir="ltr">The video, which has now been viewed over 26 million times, was captioned, “Don’t die for EasyJet.”</p> <p>Eventually, the man was able to convince the staff member that his bag was the right size to count as carry-on luggage, only for it to then be stuck inside the metal frame.</p> <div class="embed" style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; caret-color: #323338; color: #323338; font-family: Roboto, Rubik, 'Noto Kufi Arabic', 'Noto Sans JP', sans-serif; outline: none !important;"><iframe class="embedly-embed" style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; width: 610px; max-width: 100%; outline: none !important;" title="tiktok embed" src="https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2Fembed%2Fv2%2F7135000263911329029&amp;display_name=tiktok&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2F%40hotasfo_o%2Fvideo%2F7135000263911329029&amp;image=https%3A%2F%2Fp16-sign-va.tiktokcdn.com%2Ftos-maliva-p-0068%2Fb9ac55874a8840a382735f0dbbb4f95d_1661246711%7Etplv-tiktok-play.jpeg%3Fx-expires%3D1662991200%26x-signature%3DlT8PTmNwIg0BVzmFm2u%252F1Vfwtc0%253D&amp;key=59e3ae3acaa649a5a98672932445e203&amp;type=text%2Fhtml&amp;schema=tiktok" width="340" height="700" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></div> <p>"He's going to miss his flight trying to get that out," one person quipped in the comments.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Rumour has it he is still trying to get it back out," another joined in.</p> <p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, some thought the staff member was clearly also just having a laugh.</p> <p dir="ltr">"The staff guy was just having a laugh, knowing well what was about to unfold," one person said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Others empathised with the traveller for trying to avoid the extra fees, with one person sharing, "EasyJet made me pay extra for my carry-on pillow, I still haven't recovered from the shock."</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: TikTok</em></p>

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Retirees face exorbitant fees for retirement village upkeep

<p>A group of NSW retirees are facing exorbitant fees for basic upkeep of their retirement village, as they question where their strata money has gone. </p> <p>At Lakes of Cherrybrook in Sydney's north west, mould coats the ceilings and walls and bright orange plastic has been stapled to every roof in the village since April to prevent water coming in.</p> <p>Fifty units, or 75 per cent of the entire complex, are now owned by RSL LifeCare, one is common property and there are 13 units owned by resident strata owners.</p> <p>Last year the residents were informed new roofs were going to be installed, which the strata owners were advised there would be a special levy for. </p> <p>One of the residents, Lesley, said its "unfair" to ask the retirees to front the costs of the repairs. </p> <p>She told <em><a href="https://9now.nine.com.au/a-current-affair/nsw-retirees-face-exorbitant-fees-for-retirement-village/dc08ddfe-21aa-463a-b461-780f5a1f043a" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A Current Affair</a>,</em> "They have the duty of care to look after the place and the people in it."</p> <p>"We didn't come here to do maintenance work, we didn't come here to go to meetings month after month … It's put an awful lot of stress on people."</p> <p>On June 1st, the residents said they were told works would cost more than $7 million, but it looks like that could blowout, as many works are yet to be priced.</p> <p>According to this quote, the residents could be expected to pay up to $200,000 each, when they already pay up to $13,000 on strata fees. </p> <p>According to RSL Lifecare's 2021 financial results, the company has $170 million in the bank, which has left residents questioning why they're the ones who have to pay up.</p> <p>Another resident, Judy, said, "People are deaf, they can't hear what's going on, they don't understand; they get frustrated. It's sad, it's wrong."</p> <p><em>Image credits: A Current Affair</em></p>

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