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MfD: Finance Ministry to fight unfair currency exchange

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Prague, Nov 21 (CTK) – The Czech Finance Ministry is to propose an amendment allowing for the cancellation of currency exchanges which clients find inconvenient, Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) daily wrote on Tuesday, citing the ministry’s spokesman Jakub Vintrlik.

The ministry obviously intends to introduce the amendment with respect to inattentive clients, rather than due to dishonest currency exchangers, MfD writes.

“The experience is such that clients do not follow currency tables and pre-contractual information too well,” MfD quotes Vintrlik as saying.

Nevertheless, tourists share their unpleasant experience with expensive currency exchanges and that is a disgrace for the Czech Republic, MfD writes.

A number of exchange offices in tourist-exposed places are preying on inattentive clients, MfD writes.

“They offer an exchange rate between 15 to 20 crowns per euro. Such a rate is not anticipated by the foreigners and they subsequently, upon finishing the transaction, request a cancellation of the deal,” MfD writes, citing a Czech National Bank (CNB) report on supervision of the financial market.

The CNB will assist in preparing the new amendment as the body in charge of supervising the exchange offices, MfD writes.

It annually receives more than 150 complaints from the public about exchange offices. It undertakes dozens of checks on them, imposing fines of 80,000 crowns on average, MfD writes.

The penalties are due to unclear currency tables, an unclear exchange commission and unclear buy and sell currency rates, as well as multiple rates for a single currency. Money exchangers also fail to issue printed “pre-contractual information” on the deals with the sum clients would receive for their money. They are obliged to provide it and not just to show the amount on a screen or on a calculator display, MfD writes.

The CNB came with its own proposal at the end of 2016 in order to enable clients to cancel deals within two hours of their making. The draft also suggested that there be but one currency table, so that they do not become puzzled by two sets of currency exchange rates, for large transactions and for minor exchanges respectively, MfD writes.

The currency exchange sector is naturally opposed to the regulation, MfD writes.

“We dislike the politicisation of the issue, whereby instead of resolving a malpractice of specific exchange offices, a price policy is being installed,” MfD quotes Vaclav Vlasak, executive of the International Currency Exchange network of exchange offices, as saying.

Vlasak said cancellation of deals is only possible before the client leaves the office, as it is technically impossible to prove he actually came to return the money within two hours, MfD writes.

According to a price survey by the Interchange, the margins for currency exchanges in Prague are between 20-40 percent and they are comparable with cities such as Madrid, Paris and Rome, the daily adds.

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