S&S - Paying euros gives shoppers pause
Paying euros gives shoppers pause
By Charlie Coon, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Sunday, November 18, 2007
BÖBLINGEN, Germany — Feels good, doesn’t it?
Hand that food-court cashier a 20-euro bill, and get back $21.75 plus your food. What a deal! Or is it?
“When you pay in euros, it seems like you get more back,” Petty Officer 1st Class Mike Danziger said Saturday. “You don’t really, but it makes you feel better.”
At the Army and Air Force Exchange Service post exchange on Panzer Casern in Böblingen — far from the on-the-economy ravaging of the dollar — the dollar vs. euro game still played out.
Sometimes the players won; usually they didn’t.
Danziger paid in dollars this time. He knew he’d have been nicked for a few cents per dollar if he’d paid for lunch in euros.
Saturday’s exchange-rate at the food court was $1 to 71 euro cents. That was better than the exchange rate at the Community Bank, where $1 would buy only 66.65 euro cents.
Therefore, on this day, it was better for diners to pay in dollars, even if it didn’t feel like it.
Because shoppers know the relative value of the euro has risen steadily against the dollar, the thought of buying anything in euros — even on a U.S. base — makes them shudder.
“As a consumer, seeing the price in euros is a big red-flag for me,” said Monica Lacy of Heidelberg. “With the rate right now, I won’t pay for anything in euros.”
A number of on-post vendors have adjusted to soothe jittery U.S. shoppers and try to ease their fears and ease the impact of the exchange rate.
Erhan Bayram runs the Simba Mediterranean Art store, where 1 euro equals $1.
“This piece, it costs 690 euro,” he said, pointing to a mahogany dresser. “At that price we might sell two or three of them. But at $690, we might sell 15 or 20.”
At the Josef Seibel shoe store, manager Karla Perry converts her euro-priced shoes into a dollar price and then runs the transaction. She says that helps avoid the conversion fee that those paying with credit cards have to pay the credit-card companies.
On Friday, she said, a father bought snow boots for himself and his two children. The price: $272.50. It could have been more if he also had to pay an extra penny or so per dollar plus the $2 conversion fee from the credit-card company.
“It keeps them from having that extra $5 to $7 tacked on,” she said.