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Monday, 4 February 2013

Do you wish to be charged in Euros or Sterling?

This morning my wife and I went to the SabadellCAM bank in Los Balcones, Torrevieja, Spain to withdraw some Euros in cash from the ATM machine. We used our debit cards of our account in the United Kingdom.

As part of the normal transaction procedure we were asked which currency we wanted to choose to be charge to the card. If we wanted to be charged in Euros we were instructed to select the 'No' option. If we wanted to be charged in Sterling we were instructed to select the 'Yes' option. We always want the Euro amount we have withdrawn from the machine to be charged to the card. This means that the card supplier (Visa in our case) calculates the exchange rate rather than the bank operating the ATM machine. This results in a better rate of exchange and a lower final Sterling cost being deducted from our account.

I read the options offered twice to ensure I understood the choice to make. I selected the 'No' option. When the confirmation of the transaction was printed by the machine I was annoyed to read that the SabadellCAM bank had charged the Sterling conversion to my card: the opposite to my choice. On a previous visit, on the 13th December 2012, to the ATM machine at the Playa Flamenca branch of the SabadellCAM the same thing happened; but, I assumed I had pressed the wrong option button on that occasion. We subsequently learnt that other people have experienced a similar problem of the options offered via the ATM screen do not correspond to the actual action carried out.

After I had completed my transaction, my wife then used her debit card to withdraw cash from the same ATM. When she was offered the choice of currency to be charged by the Sabadel/CAM to her card we read the options offered three times. Once again our conclusion was that for Euros to be charged the option is 'No'. We decided to test our theory that the bank has got the options the incorrect way around so we pressed 'Yes' to say that we wanted the bank to charge a Sterling amount to the card. The bank charged the Euro amount we had withdrawn from the card.

Prior to the take over of the CAM bank by Sabadell, and the introduction of the Sabadell system on the ATM machines, we never experienced any problems in choosing the Euro charging option for cash withdrawals over the past 6 years.

On a withdrawal of 300 € choosing the Sterling option of charging at today's rate of exchange means that the transaction cost us £0.51 more. Or putting it another way means the SabadellCAM bank makes an extra 0,57 € profit on this transaction.

We decided to go into the branch and report our findings to the staff there in the hope that the error in the programming of the ATM system would be corrected. From the response we received this morning I'm not that hopeful.

I wonder if other people using a SabadellCAM ATM machine in Spain to withdraw cash via a UK debit card have experienced a similar problem as we have.

Edit 05.02.2013: See my follow-up article: 'SabadellCAM bank reacts to my Weblog and Tweets'


  1. Yes I had same problem at Punta Prima and thought it was me who had misinterpreted until I checked again and found they were charging me the sterling rate on both "yes"and "no" instead of allowing Visa to covert so we lost out. Now refuse to use any Sabadell/Cam or any associated with this bank. They must know what they are doing and someone needs to stop this bank scam !!!

    1. Thanks for your comment. It is good to know I wasn't the only one to experience the problem. There is a good resolution to the problem as explained in my new article "SabadellCAM bank reacts to my Weblog and Tweets" on this weblog:


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