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RBS and NatWest customers charged foreign purchase fees for buying from Apple UK

RBS and NatWest customers charged foreign purchase fees for buying from Apple UK

RBS and NatWest have promised to fix an issue which has seen some debit card customers charged foreign purchase fees when buying products from Apple UK's online store.

MoneySavingExpert.com has been contacted by three NatWest and RBS customers, who say they were charged foreign transaction fees for purchases made in sterling on Apple's UK website.

It's unclear why this is happening. Some customers say they were told the cause of the mix-up is because Apple UK's distribution centre is in Cork in the Republic of Ireland – though the banks have declined to say what's going wrong.

RBS and NatWest generally charge debit card customers a 2.75% foreign purchase fee on transactions made in a foreign currency or purchases made outside the UK, although some cards are exempt from the fee.

But the RBS group, which also includes NatWest, has confirmed that customers shouldn't be charged any foreign purchase fees when buying from Apple UK, and any customer who's been stung with the charges will be refunded.

It's not the first time RBS's foreign transaction fees have caused confusion – last year, one MoneySaver was charged foreign purchase fees for a transaction made in pounds on a flight from London.

'This has never happened to me before – I've been charged £90'

MoneySaver Matthew Dodd, 41, from Cambridge, was charged a foreign purchase fee of £87.85 after using his NatWest debit card to make a purchase in sterling from the Apple UK online store.

He said: "I made the purchase in the UK using the Apple UK online store – the transaction is even labelled as being to the UK in the NatWest app, so what justification is there to charge a fee? This has never happened to me before when using my NatWest card to make online purchases from Apple.

"I contacted NatWest, but the customer services team insisted there was no issue with the fee being charged."

Matthew says he was eventually refunded as a "goodwill gesture".

And Matthew's not the only one who's been caught out – two other MoneySavers have contacted us with similar stories. Others have reported the issue on social media:

I've been charged a fee – what should I do?

RBS insists it's fixing the problem, and will be "actively identifying" customers who have been charged to make sure they haven't lost out. It's unclear how long the issue has been going on for, though we've seen complaints from as far back as early June.

But if you've recently used a NatWest or RBS debit card to buy something from the Apple UK online store, or you're planning to do so, check your bank statements. Matthew told us the fee didn't show up when the transaction originally showed as pending on his NatWest app, so it's worth double-checking.

RBS says the issue only affects debit cards, not credit cards, and that it hasn't seen any cases where fees have been charged on purchases from the app store rather than the website – but again, it's still worth checking if you've made recent transactions.

If you have been stung, you can get in touch with RBS or NatWest to complain about the charges and ask to be reimbursed:

  • You can complain to RBS online or by phoning 03457 24 24 24. You can also write to Customer Relations Manager, 7-10 Brindley Place, Birmingham, B1 2TZ.

  • You can complain to NatWest online or by phoning 03457 888 444. You can also write to Customer Relations Manager, 7-10 Brindley Place, Birmingham, B1 2TZ.

What do the banks say?

An RBS group spokesperson said: "Our customers should not be charged foreign transactions fees when making purchases from Apple UK.

"We are looking into the issue and working to fix it as quickly as possible. We will also be actively identifying impacted customers and making sure they are not left out of pocket."