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 amazon.co.uk. 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.