The problem of unfavorable foreign exchange rates at the exchange offices at Václav Havel Airport will not end soon. The difference between the euro is more than seven crowns. Nova TV highlighted the problem nearly a year ago. At some airport exchange offices, depending on the amount you exchange, you might be getting about 30% less than the official exchange rate.
At that time, the airport management and the finance minister promised to place signs at the exchange offices with the current central bank exchange rate. But as Nova’s crew found out, the signs are bland and can easily be overlooked by tourists. They also invited the Minister of Finance to see and check.
Reporters went to Václav Havel Airport, where they tried to assume the role of a foreign tourist who had just arrived in Prague and would like to exchange euros into Czech crowns. The first sign they found, which reports on the current exchange rate of the Czech crown against the euro, dollar and pound, reports that for the euro, its rate should be twenty-five crowns and thirty-six cents.
The first to be seen was not the staff, but currency exchange ATMs, where it is possible to withdraw Czech crowns directly. He tried them right away, but they gave them only about 22 crowns for one euro.
Currency exchange is in the lobby where tourists pick up their luggage. Unfortunately, there were no boards in their vicinity that would draw attention to the current exchange rate of the Czech National Bank. A tourist who arrives in Prague and misses the first information sign – by the way, a few minutes’ walk from the exchange office – misses the chance to find out.
At the exchange office, TV staff received 891 crowns for 50 euros. For one euro they got seventeen crowns and eighty hellers, but they were supposed to get about twenty-five crowns according to the Czech National Bank’s exchange rate. On mere fifties, they got 377 Czech crowns less.
Even on the way from the arrival hall, the crew tried to find information boards about the current course in the Czech Republic. Given its lack of clarity, it was not easy. The sign, which draws attention to the course of the Czech National Bank, finally came up at the very exit from the airport.
Can a ripped-off tourist do anything now? The TV reporter decided to try and cancel the disadvantageous exchange she made in the arrivals hall. Surprisingly, the exchange was willing to discuss the course. The complaint that the rate does not correspond to the one mentioned on the sign was offered by another course. Instead of the announced 25 crowns it offered a maximum of 23 crowns per euro.
“It’s simple. The airport wants to rent twenty-three million a month. The company has to earn somehow, and we have to have tiny courses like that,” the exchange office argued. The reporters did not accept the offered exchange rate of 23 crowns per euro for the second time and took advantage of the possibility to cancel the exchange within three hours of the purchase.
Reporters drew the attention of the Finance Minister Alena Schiller to the still disadvantageous exchange rate at the airport exchange offices. She went with them to the airport to see if, at her instruction, foreign tourists had begun to point out that, according to the usual exchange rate, they could get more in exchange. The airport owned by the state falls under the Ministry of Finance.
We informed about the practices of airport exchange offices in spring 2019. The ministry seemed to intervene, but the information signs did not bring the desired improvement.
The head of the office, Alena Schillerová, said some time ago that the contract of the company operating the exchange offices at the airport cannot be terminated by the end. However, she promised that the airport would warn tourists that the local exchange rate is not favorable compared to the Czech National Bank rate.
“Of course, I do not like it, but it is the business policy of this company. We cannot dictate its business policy. This company came here based on an open tender run by Prague Airport,” Alena Schillerová said in response to disadvantageous rates they still return. “The only thing we can do is to warn everyone that this course is not profitable,” she added.
Unfortunately, even informing passengers is not consistent. Passengers consider the way in which they point out the disadvantage of the exchange rate at the airport’s exchange offices is unsatisfactory. “We have now come from terminal number two and we have not noticed them anywhere,” passengers confirmed in the poll. “I didn’t see, I’m looking for my gate, I didn’t look for signs, I didn’t notice them,” was another tourist’s response. Only ten information signs are currently located in the airport. According to the Minister of Finance and the director of the airport, this number is sufficient.
In addition to checking the information signs, Minister Schiller also instructed the airport director to control the currency exchange procedure when offering the course. At the counter, workers disapprove of the offered course and try to offer a more profitable one. “This is a practice that is incomprehensible to me and in violation of the law, so we gave people the opportunity to completely withdraw from the disadvantageous purchase,” Alen explained.