Category Archives: Foreign Currency

It ain’t what you do…

…Its the way that you do it! Yes, tell me about it.

In truth, when it comes to receiving customer service, I’m probably more forgiving than most, because its an area I’ve worked in for much of my life. However, there are times, and people who even drive me to frustration, and yes, I met one on Friday.

The rule I’ve always applied personally, is, if in doubt, ask someone, and make sure you’re doing the right thing. It has led to moments when I’ve been 99.9% certain that I’m right, but still feel its better just to make sure, especially on critical matters. Anyway, on Friday…

Normally, when I have anything to do with foreign currency prepaid credit cards, I head to Thomas Cook, as I did on Friday. Their card does all I need, and the staff in Huddersfield know exactly what they’re doing, and you get smooth, professional service. To cut a long story short, I was over in Bradford on Friday, so I thought I’d get it done over there. Not a wise move!

I guess I should have taken the hint when the woman behind the counter was fighting a losing battle to put a currency order into the system, and asked me to wait while she sorted it out. As I now know, like a fool, I did! I should have walked out the door, there and then, but fine, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I rather gathered she’d never had to issue, and activate a prepaid card before. So after a few minutes of trying to convince the system let her do it, she gave up, and asked for help. The snag was, the woman who she called for help had never done one either. So, instead of the 5 minutes I have spent in the past doing this, in Huddersfield, we were now up to 15 minutes, and no closer to getting it issued than when I had walked in!

Eventually they said they’d won the battle, and quoted me a dollar figure for the amount I was handing over. I misheard, or I would have said something because the figure they put through was ridiculously low. Yes, instead of giving me the sell rate, of around $1.20, they gave me the buy back rate about $1.11! But I only realized this after they’d handed me everything, including the receipt. After all that time (about 25 minutes), I wasnt inclined to start again, for about the sake of $4.50, as I was only putting a small amount on the card to get it active.

So, got it home, registered the card online. Yes, its showing up, but no, its not showing any balance! My suspicion, they havent confirmed something, or they’ve confused the system with the exchange rate they’ve used, or something? So now, on Tuesday, I’m going to have to go into Thomas Cook, in Huddersfield, on my day off, and get the whole matter sorted out. All because 2 people, who admitted they didnt know what they were doing, couldnt ask someone who did, or ask me to go to another branch where they would!

Yes, I’m glad thats not my regular branch! I’ll stick with Huddersfield in future!

The video, as so often, a clue in the blog title. An, err, interesting live vocals performance by a group of people who I suspect were more used to lip syncing!

Some currencies are stronger than others!

Unsurprisingly, given that I’ve spent the last 12 years working in them, most of my job applications have been for work in call centres. Regardless of my desire to do something new, the likelihood of my CV being most closely scrutinised by potential employers, is in the area where my recent career stands up, and jumps out at them.

I did, a while back apply for a position as a receptionist, the duties of which I’m more than capable of doing, but got no further than an initial interview. Yes, fine, the fact that he was really looking for a PA, set me, at my age, at a disadvantage, but anyway…

So in that sense, yesterday saw something new, I had an interview for a retail position, with one of these companies that sells foreign currency to the general public, in many forms. Yes, it used to be cash, and travellers cheques, but the latter, like ordinary cheques seem to have almost disappeared. Nowadays, pre paid credit cards, in foreign currencies seem to have taken their place, and much easier they are too!

Yes, its an area that a regular traveller abroad knows well, and one I’d enjoy working in. Fine, I havent done any retail work for 14 years, but I suspect its like riding a bike, and besides, I’ve been dealing with the public in the interim, just over the phone!

Mostly its going to be a few principal currencies that I’ll be dealing with, but I’m sure you’ll get the odd different one from time to time. Mind, a few currencies I’ve bought in my time no longer exist, those countries now in the Euro zone. Yes, about half the Euro countries, I purchased their old national one at some point.

But the one currency that amused me today, is nowhere near Europe. Its that long running political, and financial mess, Zimbabwe. Apparently they are giving up on the national currency, and going over to the US Dollar. The exchange rate? 35 Quadrillion (that’s 35, followed by 15 zeros!) Zimbabwe dollars, to the US Dollar!!! Thats how worthless their current currency is. Even if they werent dropping it, I would think its fair to say, not many get exchanged for sterling!

As always, we will see, but it will certainly be an interesting role, if I get it.

The video about sums up the Zimbabwe currency, soon to be no more