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A hotel wrongly charged my credit card (for mini-bar items I never took). I emailed them and they refunded me. Only they refunded me a smaller amount than the initial charge. I expect the difference comes from currency exchange fees and/or actual differences in exchange rates between the date the credit card was charged and the refund.

It seems strange to me that I end up losing money due to charges that I never consented to and they had no legitimate reason to make. (Even if the exchange rates could perhaps also have worked in my favor, I never consented to making this gamble.) Do I have the right to get the full refund including these fees and/or changes in exchange rates?

(The hotel was in the US, the credit card used was French.)

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    Similar thing happened to me (except the wrong charge for me was the entire hotel stay that had already been pre-paid). I had to wear the currency exchange difference as that had nothing to do with the hotel. They refunded me the exact amount, in their currency, that they had mistakenly charged. You could argue it with them if you like but I feel the only way you'll get what you want is if you get someone in a happy mood on the day. I don't feel there's any obligation here
    – Midavalo
    Jan 13, 2023 at 14:15
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    For a few months, USD ⇾ EUR rates have been falling fast, this is pretty sure this the issue here Jan 13, 2023 at 14:17
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    You could try your bank but at least in my country they believe in taking money in rather than giving it out (except to their chief executives) so I would not hold your breath. I fear you just have to write it off as another cost of foreign travel.
    – mdewey
    Jan 13, 2023 at 14:35
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    Your statement should always show the amount in the original currency (USD) in the details of the transaction. Check that (it might be hidden in the description) and see if it is the same amount for both transactions. The applicable exchange rate might also be listed there.
    – TooTea
    Jan 13, 2023 at 15:20
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    How much is the difference?
    – phoog
    Jan 14, 2023 at 9:05

2 Answers 2

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Technically, you could argue that the hotel's actions have caused you to suffer a financial loss and you could sue them for compensation. It would be a less than slam dunk case, because I'm sure their T&Cs disclaim responsibility for any indirect damages like this, and in practice, unless your minibar was stacked with gold bullion, resorting to the legal system is unlikely to be worth it.

If it's a major brand, you could drop a short, polite letter to customer service and they'll probably give you some points for your trouble. If it's an independent operation, maybe you'll get a discount coupon for a future stay.

Anecdote time: back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I bought some tickets from Jet Airways (India) for around $400, but turns out they had "upgraded" their systems the previous day and I was mistakenly charged over $14,000. (I wasn't the only one either, and their issues made the news. This was also over my credit limit and I had another discussion with my bank about how that was possible.) Long story short, I was eventually refunded, but due to exchange rate changes got back about $150 less than I was supposed to. It took another round of complaints until they finally made me whole -- and proceeded to go bankrupt a few years later.

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  • I doubt you could sue them for anything. They charged $X and refunded $X, you'll go to a US court to sue them and say what exactly?
    – littleadv
    Jan 14, 2023 at 19:55
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    @littleadv You can say that their actions resulted in consequential damages, namely the exchange rate loss: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consequential_damages Jan 14, 2023 at 20:14
  • You'll first need to prove their fault, which IMHO the OP has no way of doing. It's "he said she said", the hotel agreed to refund out of the goodness of their heart, but if they have a report from the floor attendant that a cookie was missing there's no way the OP can prove they took nothing from the minibar. So no, there's nothing to sue for.
    – littleadv
    Jan 14, 2023 at 22:05
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    @littleadv You can sue anybody for anything, it's for the court to decide who's wrong and who's right. We both agree the OP's case isn't particularly strong, but if they're paying up front and are willing to spend thousands to litigate over a few cents in exchange fees, I'm sure they can find a lawyer willing to take it up. Jan 14, 2023 at 22:34
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The difference in rates - who does it go to?

The hotel charged in USD and refunded in USD - the hotel didn't gain anything. The credit card processor paid in USD and was refunded in USD - they didn't earn anything either.

Your own credit card issuer charged EUR and refunded EUR, and they charged more than they refunded, but did they gain anything? No, because they converted the USD charge to EUR and charged you what they had to pay, and similarly got a refund in USD and converted it to EUR to refund you back.

So who do you want to eat the difference? Clearly you don't want to be "it", but someone has to and you have the least power in this process. So it remains you. You can potentially talk to the hotel, but they have no reason to give you back more USD than you initially gave them. Your bank will most definitely not give you money they don't have to give to you.

As you said, it could have moved the opposite direction and then you'd be the one benefiting. You didn't chose to make this gamble, but that's how it works. It's one of the risks of using international credit cards.

I don't think contesting the charge with your bank will work, since you were refunded. You have no reason to contest. Unless the refund doesn't actually match the original charge in the original currency, of course.

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    In a case like this, generally the one to "be it" should be the one who made the mistake? OP also "had the least power" when they found the initial mistake, but the stronger parties nonetheless were pushed to fix it - likely due to mixes of desires to do right, for a positive image, and/or the theoretical danger of legal action. I'd think all those motivations remain. Though I agree when it's such a small amount, there tends to be much less motivation, and so OP may end up having to eat it. But certainly the hotel is the one who should. Do I have the right yes? Your answer sidesteps the Q Jan 14, 2023 at 7:04
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    @JeopardyTempest what should be and what is are very different things. Who made the mistake? hard to tell. Maybe it was the OP who forgot that they actually took some cookie and the hotel decided to refund instead of arguing. Maybe it was the hotel maid who doesn't know how to count. Maybe the reception clerk who attributed the charge to the wrong room. We don't know. What is though is that the charge was reversed and the hotel paid back the exact amount they promised. The OP has no claim against the hotel, the exchange rate is not the hotel's problem.
    – littleadv
    Jan 14, 2023 at 7:18
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    "A hotel wrongly charged my credit card" makes it quite clear from the question that the fault is with the hotel (no one can know what reality is, or extend it to other situations, but as far as this question is written, we're given that information to start from...) Jan 14, 2023 at 8:18
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    The hotel maid, clerk, etc. are all agents of the hotel. As far as the customer is concerned, it's just one "hotel" entity. If the hotel chooses to dock (or worse) the pay of the employee with ultimate responsibility, that's their problem, but it shouldn't affect who the customer gets reimbursement from.
    – Barmar
    Jan 14, 2023 at 17:55
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    @littleadv In the OP the hotel admitted to the charging error.
    – Barmar
    Jan 14, 2023 at 19:19

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