For those of us who don’t like being ripped off (and who does, exactly?) the thought of PayPal’s fees are a good reason not to use the service. However I (residing in the United Kingdom) currently have a need to pay an individual in France €100 (say, for sake of argument, I’m buying off eBay or renting a holiday villa) and have limited options:
Pay my bank £10 for a SWIFT transfer – (since €100 is approx £78, that’s a hefy commission!)
Spend 3 days trying to count up the fees I (or the recipient) would pay with PayPal – 3.5% standard fee, assuming a minimum additional 3.5% for the currency exchange (on top of whatever exchange rate they decide to use?) and possibly a cross-border fee as well?
Use another service like TransferWise.com – this is cheap (£1 for my transaction) and paid into the recipient’s bank account, but as this is not a direct bank transfer I’m not clear if the purchase protection I would otherwise receive still applies, so a bit of a risk there.
I normally use fee-free credit/debit cards (like Halifax Clarity or Supercard) to avoid foreign exchange fees, but using PayPal in the past I thought the only option was to use a UK Sterling card and let PayPal convert into Euros, meaning you’re subject to even more extortionate fees than your bank will charge! However, despite PayPal’s needlessly over-complicated fee structure I’m thinking it is the way to go here as I think I can discount both the currency exchange and cross-border fees.
Firstly, the easy one: PayPal have a small note at the bottom of their “Cross Border Fees” table which states:
“Cross Border Euro or Swedish Krona payments made between Accounts registered in the European Union or EEA will be treated as Domestic Payments for the purpose of applying Fees.”
Happy days? Now about that foreign exchange fee… I’ve learned that it is possible to get PayPal to bill my fee-free card in Euros, hopefully eliminating another chunky fee. The remaining 3.5% standard fee is clearly more than double the TransferWise fee, but I figure it’s worth it for the added protection (provided by the site I’m buying through, not by PayPal – although there is that too).
Getting PayPal to bill you in your own currency is not easy, but can be done. All the guides I found explained how to do it on the old site, which has now been replaced. The same legacy page is still there and active, and still used within your account, but finding it is even harder than it was before. So here’s what you need to do:
I’ve recently joined Sky Broadband from PlusNet – hey, a year’s free broadband and a £100 pre-paid Mastercard on top of over £77 TopCashBack is hard to turn down! However, I have already come across two major annoyances – one which I’ve carried over from my days at PlusNet and one which is new.
Let’s start with the new one. It turns out, the Sky router (sorry, “Sky Hub”) only lets you ‘choose’ from a list of one Dynamic DNS providers. Since I’m not interested in paying $40 a year for something that I know I can get for free this is not an acceptable solution for me.
So instead I came across this old post on AskUbuntu which pointed me towards a program called ddclient. This perl-based program will run on my Linux server and update the No-IP service from there, bypassing the router instead. Not ideal as far as I’m concerned, but workable.
The second issue is one that was also a problem at PlusNet in that, for whatever reason, ISPs these days seem reluctant to let you bypass their DNS servers (cutting their load and doing part of their job for them!) and so remove any option related to this from their routers. I managed to get round this at one point with Plus Net by telnetting into the router itself and updating the settings manually (not for the feint-hearted!) but this Sky Hub is a different router make so I will need to do a bit more digging on that one. A task for another day methinks.
Needless to say, Sky and I aren’t off to the best of starts.
On 19th February occurred the latest in a long line of blunders since I first applied to switch to Ovo Energy back in August last year. After running a comparison against my previous providers and the wider market, I decided I would switch to Ovo Energy’s Greener Energy (all online) tarriff.
First Ovo tried to switch the wrong gas account (i.e. not mine!). Because of where I live I am supplied through an independent gas transporter which means I was told it would take 4-12 weeks to transfer. By December I realised that time was now up and still my transfer hadn’t completed. There had been no contact from Ovo in this time to tell me anything was amiss and I was told at least once that I just needed to wait.
Sure enough, after me chasing Ovo, it eventually turned out they’d been trying to move the wrong account. If I recall they asked for my meter number when I signed up, but somewhere this got converted into an MPRN (Meter Point Registration Number) – but the one in my Ovo account wasn’t the one on my bills from my old supplier.