Visa Debit £1.25 charge for amazon and paypal ebay transactions

POST UPDATE, 14 Feb 2010: I have just - mysteriously, and after more than a week since I spoke with either Amazon or Natwest - been refunded the charge, but it's unclear whether it came from Amazon or Visa/ Natwest. Natwest kept insisting that they won't be giving me the money back, because 'it is Amazon that is at fault for routing the transactions via Luxembourg'. The Natwest people were pretty nasty and rude, time and again, in contrast to the Amazon folk which were very nice and polite (albeit equally unable to provide any help or even to respect my time and not ask me to call my bank to clarify). I'll keep shopping from Amazon (great prices too), but I'm now determined to move banks. I'm not under any illusions that the new bank is going to be better (although I can't see how it can be any worse), but I've really had it with Natwest; even the iphone app sucks. I'll also stick with Mastercard credit cards - dear Visa people, screw you too.

I'll be posting more updates if I get more info, and do leave a comment if you have been refunded (or not). There's quite a few people reaching this post via Google, so any comments with info could be quite helpful.

I bank with Natwest, and they recently switched every customer from maestro to visa debit - a card 'with many additional advantages'. Anyways, I just found out - on my statement - that they charge £1.25 for each and every transaction on Needless to say, there's NO NOTIFICATION WHATSOEVER about this on the amazon site. £1.25 is the 'foreign transaction' charge, and from what I can gather it may apply because amazon routes the transaction via Luxembourg.

Right now, there's a couple of threads elsewhere on the web discussing the paypal charge (I couldn't find anything on the amazon charge), with some customers apparently being refunded (but not everyone), so be careful. I contacted Natwest who 'will process this and get back to me in the next 7 working days', as well as amazon who apparently have no idea about this at all. This is all the more worrying because all banks in the UK are in the process of adopting visa debit:

Since June 2009, all of the major banks in the UK have begun - or will in due course - issuing Visa Debit. Barclays, Abbey, Halifax/Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB have already issued the card.

I had recently read this article on visa's 'interesting' practices, but charging people without any warning is on a whole new level. Boo Visa, and boo banks. Shame on you.

I'll give this another try, demand I get refunded for the principle of it (charging me without telling me?), and if this is not rectified in the future I'll switch banks and cards to make sure this doesn't happen again.

I'll be updating this post with new information as it arrives. If you had the same experience of have any additional information, comments are open and welcome.


  1. Tom Says:

    I've also blogged about this today at I'm considering taking this further as this really is not on.

  2. stef Says:

    The more you go to the top, the more fraud you encounter.

    When BT switched back to 17.5% VAT this month, they increased their fees to remove "pricing inconsistencies" such as prices being 12.43 rather than 12.49. However this increase went by without notification. They say that most services were rounded down, but in reality the rounding down was only on extra services that few people use. The basic line rental was rounded up.

    For an individual customer its only a couple of cents per month, but for BT that amounts to an considerable increase in total revenue that they have just made without notifying anybody.

    I think this is fraud.

    Anyways, I stopped getting angry about this, cause wherever you look you find things like that and you just getting annoyed. Best thing is to get involved as little as possible with their "offers".

    Pay with cash, have a pay as you go whenever possible, basic services, no ties to contracts, etc etc. So whenever some crap hits the fan, you can just walk away.

    Shit will always hit the fan.

  3. Andy Says:

    I found the same this month, having been given a new Visa by natwest. All the more annoying because Amazon split my single order into 3, and each one was charged the additional 1.25, which in some cases was more than the cost of the product.

    A frustrating couple of calls to Natwest and Amazon has led to Natwest refunding me, and promising it is a 'system error' which I can phone them to claim back each and every time - hardly an ideal solution. A call to Amazon led to a confusing explanation of credit card authorisation temporary charges, but the person I spoke to really didn't seem to understand.

  4. possession Says:

    Hey Andy, I am in the same situation (1 order split into 3) but the staff at my Natwest branch, Amazon and VISA are all denying responsibility. What number did you call to talk them into the refund?

    Many thanks.

  5. Rob Says:

    Same thing has happened to me. When I discovered it, I immediately phoned NatWest and was told by the person on the phone that the charge had not come from them and to contact Amazon. I emailed Amazon and they have just mailed back and told that the charge did not come from them and to contact my bank/card issuer. Grrrrr.

  6. Ste Says:

    I had just the same experience. I've spoken to Amazon and Natwest and I'm pretty sure the £1.25 charge is not made by Natwest or by Amazon but is made by VISA (who charge Natwest who then charge you...)

    To sort it out I arranged a meeting with the branch manager at my nearest Natwest branch. When I met with him today I explained the situation and he was happy to refund me the £1.25. He said he'd heard of this once about a month before and, while I was there, he called his bosses who said they'd also heard of it before. Hopefully they'll realise it's ridiculous to automatically change everyone's cards to visa debit when there's still problems like this!

    If this happens to you my advice is:

    1. Arrange to speak to someone in person (if possible get a *nice* person!). I arranged a meeting with the manager last night by calling a Natwest call centre and asking for an appointment with someone. They kept trying to deal with it on the phone but I insisted and got the appointment made. I think the number I used was 0845 788 8444.

    2. Don't use a visa debit card for online purchases for the time being. It sounds like Amazon and the banks are trying to fix it - fingers crossed!

  7. A Says:

    This is happening to most people who are getting the new cards that are being changing by the banks. I'm not sure if this is all true, but it sounds like its happening.

    Banks are now changing the Maestro and Solo debit cards over to Visa-Debit and Mastercard-Debit to make it simpler and easier. But due to problems they are charging their customers £1.25 per transaction due to foreign banking system. Even though a company is based in the UK their banking system is going through Luxemburg, this is why your being charged £1.25 by the BANK - NOT the company you shop with.

  8. Ian Says:

    Both Amazon and PayPal have said that they have not charged me and that it is service charge from the bank that issued the card. They advised me to contact NatWest.

    I've just got off the phone to NatWest. Spoke to someone very polite in Coustomer Services who was a great help.

    They've passed my problem to the Customer Alert Team, who seem to be aware of the problem. Seems that the card is being treated as a CREDIT card and not a DEBIT card by some companies which is why we get yhis charge.

    I've been informed that they will get in touch with me with in 2 days after the've done some more digging for themselves.

    Will post an update when I get one!!

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Try following this:

    2. current accounts
    3. Important information.Rates and charges
    4. Personal and Private Banking - A Guide to Fees and Interest(PDF) []
    5. Section 8- Foreign transaction charges
    6. will also have to pay the following charges:
    7. point of sale transactions – flat fee of £1.25 per transaction.

    NatWest charge £1.25 for all NON UK based transactions even if the currency is in sterling! I got caught out when Microsoft used a third party based in Luxembourg to process their downloads. I suspect that will charge me the same if I were to download Jedward's single for 23p as in the small print the transaction will be completed by Amazon Media EU S.à r.l who are based in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg although you'd have to read the terms of use to fine out!!! Luxembourg might be grand but what do we have to pay £1.25 every time?

  10. Rob Says:

    I've also had the charges refunded to my account now.

    I haven't tried buying anything since I discovered these charges - does anybody know if the 1.25 charge still stands?

  11. Anonymous Says:

    I received new Visa Debit Card in early February 2010 from NatWest Bank in place of my Solo Card. I did NOT ask for the Visa Debit. Anyway I started using it in exactly same way as Solo Card. I also put it into my Paypal Account as the one to draw down funds from NatWest to Paypal and thence onto the company I was using Paypal to buy from. So I think all is fine UMTIL I check and see that that are 2 (yes 2) fees for EACH transaction I made where (a) the payment was made directly using the Card (not Paypal) to any overseas company for a service like webhosting etc (b) When I used PayPal to pay a company overseas. When I used the Solo Card with Paypall they would always draw money in £ sterling eben if the goods were in US$. Now with Visa ,Paypal SAY (do I believe them ??) that Visa tell them to request payment in US$ and thus incur 2 charges even were payment was made via Payapl.

    Anyone else found this yet ??.