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American renters


Dianes
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Help. This is our first year of renting our house out, and I thought I had everything covered: letters, booking forms, terms and conditions, etc. But now I have had an email enquiry via the French Connections site from an American couple who want to rent the house. The thing is ( and I probably sound really naive here!) how do I go about it? Normally I would send the letter saying I am holding the booking for 14 days until receipt of the filled in and signed booking form and deposit. As I want the booking form signed (the terms and conditions are printed on the back), do I ask for their address and post it to the USA, rather than via email? And as for the deposit cheque, and eventual payment ... euros or pounds would be fine as we have banks in UK and France, but how do we handle dollars? What do others do?

Thanks for your help.

Diane
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Hi Diane

 

I don’t know many people nowadays who ask for a signed booking form. Since online bookings took off about six years ago and people started having ‘emailable’ booking forms on their websites, the practise stopped. I would think that nowadays, by the time you got the booking form to them by post and they send it back, they may have found something else. If you think about it, what are they signing for anyway? There is no law in the land that can force them to continue with the booking if they don’t want to. Once you have their deposit, it’s a different ballgame. Providing you state clearly where it can easily be seen, that deposits are non-refundable, they would have to have a very good reason to cancel their booking and if they did, you would probably be very sympathetic towards them. I’m not sure if French Connections offer an online Booking Form for it’s advertisers, but if they do, the norm is to make the client read your terms and conditions notice before they hit the submit button.

 

I never thought I would say this, but I can highly recommend PayPal. They used to be a nightmare, but since they were bought out by eBay, they have become an amazingly user friendly payment system. Setting up an account is quick and easy, just go to www.paypal.com and register. Once your account is set up anyone can pay you anywhere in the world. They have a new invoice system where you can send an invoice to any email address and the recipient can pay in their own currency. It really is a useful tool for Gîte owners.

 

Best of luck and I hope you get the booking!!

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Why don’t you email them the conditions and ask them to send a signed copy back to you with the deposit

 

We run a chambre d hotes. I don’t except dollars payment for me has to be in euro .We also ask for a deposit in advance for summer bookings, and have just taken 2 bookings from the states. I checked with the bank to find out the cost for cashing a dollar cheque and also asked them for there current exchange rate and then told them that they would have to pay the extra cost in cashing the cheque, we also gave them the option of transferring the money to our account provided they pick up all costs on both sides.

I got the cheques for the deposit in 7 days. The problem I have had this year is that for maybe a 2 night stay it is then not cost effective to pay a deposit
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Hi Gay

 

Sorry you are totally wrong there. When you sign up with PayPal you are given a credit limit, which is not very much, I think about €750 per month or something. You can verify your account by giving them permission to deduct $1.95 from your account which has a tracking number attached to the transaction. When you check your statement and feed back this tracking number to PayPal, they verify your account and credit you with the $1.95. Here are their fees.

 

 

 Personal Account

 Premier/Business Account

Open an Account

Free

Free

Send Money

Free

Free

Withdraw Funds

Free for €100,00 EUR or more, €1,00 EUR for €99,99 EUR or less to bank accounts in France
Fees for other banks

Free for €100,00 EUR or more, €1,00 EUR for €99,99 EUR or less to bank accounts in France
Fees for other banks


  • Sorry I should've taken out the external links, which won't work unless you are logged in.
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    That has certainly never been my experience and I have had a business account for some years now. Even when the 'change' occurred and your Paypal account had to be based in Europe rather than the USA, ( where mine was,) the routine was the same, you register, they send two payments of small amounts and you have to key those amounts in, to complete registration.

    I used to list in dollars and by the time they had charged for the transaction, plus their dreadful exchange rate, you could more or less say goodbye to 5%.

    That is my experience, yours has obviously been different - but I think it is a good plan for B&B owners to register BEFORE they need them rather than waiting until they have no other way to get funds from clients in other parts of the world than France and the UK.
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    I think it is a good system now. As I said they have changed drastically since becoming part of eBay and are more user friendly. They are certainly cheaper than Worldpay and 2 Checkout. But as you can see, if you only have a personal account with them, the fees are very good. I have a premier account with them and it works fine, but with all of these things, read the small print first.

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    I'll second the PayPal method, but if you or your potential clients don't have a PayPal account another way is to use Western Union transfer - the sender pays a fee of about 4 or 5 dollars, you recieve euros in cash at your nearest agent - usually La Poste in your nearest big town. All details are on their website at www.westernunion.com

    Jo Taylor

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    You don't need a PayPal account to use them, they take credit card payments directly from their website.

    Thanks

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    • 2 weeks later...

    You could open an account with Citibank UK (which you can do if you're living in France). Once that's done (their direct current account is the best bet interest rate-wise), open a savings account in dollars and deposit the cheque there (no charge). You can switch the money to a sterling or euro account for a charge of about 0.9%.

    I'm not sure about clearance times for dollar cheques but French euro cheques take about two weeks to clear from the time we post the cheque from here.

    Plan B which arose on the B&B owners group is to get a credit card machine with "vente a distance" but this costs about EUR 35 a month. The charge is under 1% to take payments by credit card.

     

    Arnold

     

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    Thanks. I liked the idea of the Western Union transfer, but in the end the American couple have a friend with a UK bank account, so they've sent a sterling cheque via them!

    At least I know what to do if the situation arises again.

    Diane
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    I don't know about the Western Union thing... I seem to remember the fee was a whole lot more than a few dollars for international transactions. But then, that was from the US to Canada (and it cost around $30, if I recall correctly). Maybe it's different to Europe, though I don't see why that would be.

    Most of our clients use PayPal. It's great for deposits because you don't have to sign up to make a payment of E750 or less. We e-mail them our contract in PDF format, and they print it, sign it, and fax it to us. We sign it and fax it back. It works really well, and we have a clause in the contract explicitly stating that for legal purposes a "signature" can be a fax signature.

    Another option would be a direct bank transfer -- if you have an account that you're comfortable using.

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    The Western Union fee can't be anything like as much as that - I've had people send me relatively small amounts of money (less than 50 dollars) from the US to France. Their website probably has the details. PayPal is of course easier and you can deduct any fees from the clients' total but some people prefer not to give their banking / card details online (WU can either be done online or at one of their agencies).

    Anyway, glad you sorted your particular case, Diane!

    Jo

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    Western Union sounds interesting. Do you collect the payment at this end in cash?

    There could be lots of reasons why customers, American or otherwise, might not want to pay on line, or even to keep much money in their bank account. Presumably they can pay cash at their end and we collect cash at this end. Sounds good to me. Or am I missing something?

    If people use a payment method that involves them in payment of some charges, I usually recompense them with a bottle of Champagne. It always goes down well and costs less than people imagine, especially as we would have given them a bottle of red wine even if they hadn't had to pay charges.

    Patrick
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    Hello Patrick,

    Yes, that's how it works. They can go into their nearest agency (usually in convenience stores in the US), do the biz, email you the reference number (& their name and address), you go into your nearest WU agency (usually nearest main La Poste here), fill in a form with said details and get cash.

    The last payment I received in this way was about 45 dollars, I gave the lady (who didn't "do" PayPal) the option of sending cash by registered post (not strictly allowed) or WU. Reg. post from the US costs about 8 dollars, so I can't see that the WU fee can have been any (or much) more than that.

    Jo

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