Nice sunset view as we pass over London, England, on our way to Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Shkodra, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Hiking the Peaks of the Balkans, June 13-24!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

I wonder how many people are getting taken advantage of?

Just a few things to talk about today.

Yesterday was a day off... nothing planned for the group and everybody just did their own thing. Aron and Owenita got new rear shocks shipped to the campground so they were waiting for them when we arrived. And Mona and Roger got a new toilet! So they both had projects on the go yesterday.

The rest of us just puttered about. We took some laundry down with a few others. Ruth went for a long morning walk with Denise and Bob and Scarlett the dog.

I just puttered around and got caught up on some internet stuff. So great to have a decent supply of internet for a change! I even managed to have an afternoon nap for an hour.

When we used an ATM here in Mexico for the first time this trip we noticed a change. On some machines, a new page comes up asking if you want to accept the bank's calculation of the exchange rate. This screen obviously only comes up when you are using a foreign debit card. I don't know yet if this is something that is happening around the world now, or if this is only a Mexico "thing".

But, it is happening at Scotiabank machines around Mexico and I wonder how many people are getting taken advantage of.

Please Select Your Transaction Currency.

In the example above, I was taking out 6,000 pesos. 

Any Canadian debit card will already add a 2.5% (3.0% in the case of TD Canada Trust) foreign exchange conversion fee to the real exchange rate. This in itself is ridiculous, however there is no way around it. I have yet to find a Canadian bank or financial institution that does not have this fee on foreign ATM use.

Anyhow, in this situation, the ATM comes up with the page above asking you if you want to accept or decline their conversion. Note that it specifically tells you that the conversion rate is a full 12% over the real rate at the time.

Then, it tells you that this transaction would be $481.30 CAD and that is what would be debited from your bank account.

I declined the conversion. The machine spit out the 6,000 pesos, and my bank account was debited $439.06 CAD. My bet is that many people think that if you decline the conversion, the transaction won't proceed.

Had I accepted the conversion, it would have cost me $42.24 CAD more! An insane amount of profit for the bank on that one transaction.

I've learned that most people don't understand foreign exchange or the associated costs. Either they don't understand it, or they simply don't care. But either way, the banks are taking advantage of this.

In more blunt terms, they are simply ripping you off.

On to other things.

The other day when we were in a big hardware store, I noticed on the shelf two cartons of milk. Milk, in a hardware store? It didn't make sense.

This is a very common brand of milk here in Mexico.

Upon further inspection, it turned out that this wasn't milk at all. It's a safe!

It has a slide out compartment in it.
How cool is that?

Here at the campground, owners Kate and Del have 3 dogs. Two of them are Aztec Mexican hairless dogs. They sure are odd looking animal.

Ruth with Lucinda.

In other news, I did the final tally on our expenses for the orphanage. Some of the group here paid some bills that they didn't need to get reimbursed for, so including that we are pleased to make an online donation to Hogar Infantil with the remaining balance of 2,400 pesos ($165 CAD, $124 USD).

Weather here in Oaxaca at 5,300' altitude has been warm during the day with a high of 25C (77F) yesterday, but very windy in the afternoon. Overnight low last night was down to 8C (46F), great for sleeping.  Mostly sunny skies.

Today we are taking the group to the petrified waterfalls at Hierve el Agua, and the ruins at Mitla.

The popular Fairywill Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush is on deal of the day today only. I have a code that gives you 50% off the Deal of the Day price! Enter code D384W9LH at checkout.

And in Canada...


  1. Banks are notoriously "Bad" (there are other words, but let's keep it "family friendly"). The only solution I can think of, in addition to watching them like a hawk, is to buy their stocks, and then glean the dividends. Then at least you don't feel quite so "ripped off". Thanks for the heads up. Carry on!

  2. Wow, that potential 12% fee was crazy! Like you, I found no way to avoid the ~2% charged by my bank and/or Visa. But in Guanajuato I found the credit union Caja Popular Mexicana charged no ATM fee on their end, which was very nice.

    1. You are right, I don't think there is anyway to avoid the 2-3% foreign exchange fee that the banks automatically add on, that is sort of the cost you bear when doing transactions in other countries but you can stop them from gouging you with this inflated foreign exchange free that they try to get people suckered into believing they have to accept in order to receive their money. And, as you mentioned either having a debit card with no ATM fees and using an ATM that has no ATM fees or very little in the way of ATM fees helps as well. Every penny (peso) counts! :-)

  3. I recently completed a 6000 peso withdrawal at Banamex and my account was debited very similar to yours at $C442.04. Thanks for the info on Scotiabank (which, by the way) "ate" my mastercard at its' ATM in Manzanillo.

    1. Just be aware if you are ever asked to accept your banks conversion,to not accept it and you shouldn't have any worries.

      Sorry your card was eaten, so far we haven't had that issue.

  4. Love that breed!
    Have you considered and American or Mexican bank account to try to avoid some fees? Keeping in mind I know nothing of the details of opening a foreign account, just a thought.

    1. We believe to get a foreign bank account you usually need to be a resident of that country or at least have a legal address but we honestly don't know enough about that. Honestly we don't have an issue taking money out of an ATM, we just want people to be aware that some banks have a scheme/scam of trying to take more of your money when it isn't necessary.

  5. I heard about that ATM bank scheme/scam in a Zihua facebook group as others were warning, it's unfortunate that the banks everywhere think it is ok to rip people off.

    1. Glad that you are aware of the issue. If you do the research then the banks can't take advantage of the situation but many people just aren't aware of this tactic and we are trying to get the word out there. Banks are already making way too much money!


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