Whine Wednesdays: Currency Conversion Fraud At Ritz-Carlton Jakarta Mega Kuningan

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Marriott’s website displays all the hotel prices in USD for their hotels in Jakarta and Bali (haven’t checked the other cities) and many other hotel chains do the same.

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When the exchange rate of the country fluctuates a lot and the hotel may have loans or other liabilities set in harder currency such as Euro or USD dollar, one way to hedge the possible fluctuation is to display the hotel prices on some other than the official currency.

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After I had stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Jakarta Mega Kuningan and was going through my folio, I thought that something was wrong. The reservation that I had made and the bill that I was presented and paid were not in sync. The difference was exactly 7%. I thought that maybe they had mistakenly charged a mini-bar item or two and I should have those removed.

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I shot an email to the hotel and they promptly replied that they are using an in-house (FAKE) rate of 12,000 IDR per USD to convert the prices displayed by Marriott.com. The rate of 12,000 IDR to 1 USD is not disclosed anywhere during the reservation process or at the hotel.

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The dollar has strengthened in the past week and now the difference is 10%.

This is nothing but fraud

They must have realized that people are easily confused by the local Indonesian currency, as there are many many zeroes on all the prices, and don’t notice this difference at the time of checking out.

According to my later conversation with the front desk about the issue, the rate is set by their accounting/finance department and approved by the General Manager.

There is absolutely no excuse for this difference on the conversion rate. If you exchange money at the hotel (I never do), you will always get a very bad deal.

But when an international brand displays their prices on their branded website and then uses a fake exchange rate to convert them to the official chargeable currency of the country, it is nothing but fraud.

Conclusion

There are no excuses for this fraud perpetrated by the Ritz-Carlton Mega Kuningan. The hotel displays a service charge of 10% and government taxes of 11% on top of the base price during the reservation process and on the email confirmation.

If the hotel wants to get it rates up, they should jack up the base rate. Currently their total price is 10% more than shown on Marriott.com due to the conversion fraud

I stayed at two IHG properties during the same trip in Jakarta and both used a real exchange rate to convert the prices from USD to IDR. The difference at the Crowne Plaza was less than 10 cents and the charge that came through from the InterContinental was actually one USD dollar less.

I am surprised that Marriott allows property to perpetrate fraud and taint their most prestige Ritz-Carlton brand.

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