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Every once in a while, you will be reminded that the world is a very dangerous place and that you must always be on the lookout for scoundrels intent on picking pockets. Witness my family’s recent experience with MasterCard.
We bank in the small town where we live; and my wife, our older children, and I have debit cards issued by that bank. We trust the institution. Whenever we have run into difficulties, the staff there have been courteous and helpful.
So we thought nothing of it when, a few months back, the bank shifted from one MasterCard provider to another. In January, one of my children used her debit card to pay tuition so that she could work on her German in the summer at a Goethe Institute in Munich. This came off without a hitch. The amount subtracted from her account was the precise amount charged by the Goethe Institute.
In May, presuming that the Wuhan coronavirus would pass and that international travel would once again be possible, she signed up for a subsequent session at the Goethe Institute in Vienna. This time, although we did not at first notice, she was charged an additional 9.99% on the transaction for what is called a MasterCard Cross Border Fee and another 9.99% for a MasterCard Currency Conversion Fee.
And when, after it became evident that international travel would not soon become an option, she sought reimbursement for both tuition charges, she was charged 19.98% on each. It was then — when I discovered that, on these transactions, she had unwittingly paid a whopping $973.10 to our bank’s new MasterCard provider in fees – that we became alert and disgruntled.
Our bank, which had not warned us of the danger, has made us good. But we were told that this would not happen again; and, unless the bank changes its debit card provider and the fees are dropped or radically reduced, we will probably take our business elsewhere.
The moral of this story is that there are predators out there and that our bank’s MasterCard provider is one of them. In such a case, my motto will be: “Never leave home with it.”Published in