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I’m in Hong Kong so why am I paying in yen?

In 2017, Tom was on holiday in Hong Kong and was later travelling to Japan. He loaded his travel card with Hong Kong dollars (HKD) and Japanese yen. When Tom used the card to pay for dinner while he was in Hong Kong, payment was drawn from the yen on the card, instead of from the HKD on his card.

Tom contacted the travel card provider (the provider) and asked why the card had not defaulted to taking payment from the currency of the country he was in (that is, HKD). Tom asked the provider to credit him the approximate $25 NZD conversion fee he incurred when the yen were converted to HKD. The provider said it would do this.

However, the provider tried to credit the transaction back and this resulted in Tom being debited another $25 conversion fee (that is, he’d now lost $50). Tom said the provider should simply have credited him the original $25 conversion fee.

Tom complained to FSCL.



We wrote to the provider and asked for its response. The provider said when Tom was paying for dinner, the restaurant must have offered him the choice of paying in HKD or yen, and Tom must have chosen yen. The provider also said Tom’s card had a current balance of $-9.13 NZD and asked if clearing the negative balance would resolve the complaint.


Tom’s response

Tom did not accept the provider’s offer, particularly because he was able to point to his receipt from the restaurant showing he was offered to pay in HKD or NZD, and he circled HKD. Tom could not understand how the payment was drawn from his yen. Further, Tom said his card only had a $-9.13 NZD balance because the provider had tried to unwind the transaction, rather than simply crediting him the $25 conversion fee.

Tom was also frustrated the provider had not acknowledged he had complained over 11 weeks prior, and his complaint had not been resolved.


Settlement reached

We went back to the provider with Tom’s comments. The provider remained strongly of the view Tom caused the payment to be drawn from his yen balance. However, the provider finally decided to resolve the complaint by reinstating the yen and HKD balances on Tom’s card prior to the dinner purchase (and then deducting the dinner cost from the HKD balance). Tom and the provider signed an agreement recording the resolution reached.

However, Tom said the complaint experience left him with a low opinion of the provider. He said he would have thought an additional apology for the time and steps it took in resolving his complaint would have been a professional response from the provider.


Key insight for participants

This complaint demonstrates how poor complaint handling can leave customers with a negative impression of your company. The provider could have resolved this complaint internally without the need for FSCL to become involved, which may have left Tom with a better lasting impression of the company.