Those traveling to Ireland from the UK to Ireland should take precautionary measures and be wary of new policies when exchanging pound for the euro, an Irish woman’s stressful experience has shown.
Earlier this month, an Irish woman residing in London for years left for Ireland to visit her sick brother.
Catherine Healy-Crudden, a North London resident, said she was “disgusted” after being turned away by a number of different institutions in her search for a safe exchange of about £500 in Dungarvan, Waterford.
On crutches and painkillers due to a physical ailment, from which she suffers severe pain, Healy-Crudden was told by the Ulster Bank location in the town that she would be unable to convert her money.
“No longer available”
She spoke to a manager, who advised the service was no longer available. “He looked at and said we don’t do that anymore,” Healy-Crudden said.
She was referred to the local post office, where she was told the exchange would also not be possible.
The reasons for the refusal were not provided, she said, but they referred her to the town’s credit union.
Already in agonising pain and in tears from being given little clarification on why she couldn’t carry out such a “simple thing”, she ventured to Dungarvan Credit Union only to be advised that the exchange would not be possible.
“I said to myself, ‘I can’t believe this. Is this a joke’,” she said, after being told that an account would be required.
She said no notice of this was made clear in the store. An account must be required to avail of currency exchange services, a representative from Dungarvan Credit Union stated.
They added that the website and branch do explain this in writing.
A number of regulations mean an account is required to change currency, but where before leniency might have been applied, recent enforcement drives to promote the safeguarding of data – with the Europe-wide GDPR roll-out, for example – has led to the need for all transactions to be recorded.
An Post, Ireland’s public post office service, does not operate foreign exchange services in smaller, rural branches, it was confirmed.
A spokesperson for Ulster Bank also explained to the Irish World that the Dungarvan branch was one of many locations nationwide that had seen its foreign services cut to facilitate other investments.
“There was changes to branches and peoples numbers and we also announced earlier this year a reduction to the number of branches where we offer foreign exchange,” she said.
After her encounters with these institutions left her irate, Healy-Crudden brought herself to the Dungarvan Tourism Office to acquire some assistance and to leave a complaint.
“I wouldn’t return to Ireland only for my brother,” she added. Barbara Norman, an employee in the office branch, went the extra mile and attempted to find out why she may have been refused at each respective institution.
She could not explain why but decided to help her find somewhere local that would convert her monies.
Norman also told a now-distraught Healy-Crudden that she had recent experience of Canadian and American tourists complaining of an inability to exchange dollars.
Their perception of Ireland had been tainted by local banks and institutions traditionally accepting of exchanges referring them to Waterford and Kilkenny city, Healy-Crudden said.
It was eventually discovered that Dungarvan’s Permanent TSB branch accepted pound sterling for an exchange but since it was past 3pm, Healy-Crudden was unable to convert and was forced to use her card for all transactions.
Healy-Crudden’s experience is a warning for all to ensure that prior to travel, they determine where and how their money can be exchanged in Ireland to avoid any unnecessary complications upon landing.
Whether that’s Bureaux de Change, international banks, currency exchange stores or post offices, it is important to research and remain up-to-date with recent foreign exchange developments – especially if you have not been in Ireland for decades.
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