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Barclaycard refused at Le Clerc


Normandie
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Dear all

I had my Barclaycard refused at Le Clerc (Coutances) over the weekend (while visiting for the weekend).

Last time this happened I'd rung Barclaycard to advise them I'd be in France but it still didn't work at Le Clerc.  When I got back I rang Bcard to see if there was a reason why and there wasn't.

It always used to work fine.

Luckily I used cash anyway but it is a pain.  Just wondered if this has happened to anyone else - not sure if I should request a replacement card to see if that's the problem?

It seems to work okay in restaurants, petrol stations etc.

Kind regards

 

Normandie

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Seems to be a relatively standard problem with UK cards in French Supermarkets. 

Friends of ours had a problem at Auchan the same as yours.  The shop claimed they could not get authorisation for the payment.  Later enquires on the card's hotline showed that no authorisation request had been received. 

So before they made their next shopping trip to the same store they went to the reception desk and asked them to get prior authorisation using the toll free hot line.  Auchan reluctantly agreed to do it (they had probably never been asked before to do this) and everything went through without a hitch.

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Not really that odd.

The chip and pin systems are different - France having the older and more basic version.

I have had problems in a couple of Brico sheds with my German swipe credit card (chip and pin has not arrived here yet)- essentially the same thing - the machine does not seem to be able to make the connection for authorisation.

 

And if you have never had a problem then you have never bought petrol at a wayside unmanned filling station.  Virtually all pumps will only take a French card because they cannot get authorisation for cards from anywhere else.  Plenty of threads here on that little nightmare.

 

The solution of course for anyone who is in France regularly is to get a French account and card.

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Yes, I've had the no petrol on a Sunday at a 24/7 unmanned petrol pump problem before ... luckily I paid the person in front of me cash to put some petrol in on their card as mine wouldn't work!

I didn't get a cash card with my Credit Agricole account because it's not free, and because I didn't write the minimum one cheque (on my current/cheque account) during the year, I was charged an admin fee of 20 or 30 euros p.a., so I always write one per year now to avoid the charge!

Is there a card that I could obtain - for free - that could be used for petrol etc as it would be useful for these occasions even though they are few and far between - but annoying all the same!

Otherwise I'll just continue in this haphazard way as my trips are infrequent!

Many thanks

 

Normandie

 

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I have had many problems in the past at E le C with British credit cards but never at other French supermarkets. Unfortunately, I've also had problems with my Credit Agricole debit card at the same supermarket - I had to get a replacement card before I could shop there. I suppose I could have voted with my feet. They clearly have problems with their computer systems / policies.
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Leclerc (in common with most French chains) is a franchised operation,  so there is no standard answer - as mentioned previously the chip and pin system is different with the different cards, so your store might be geared up for the French cards rather than the British. There's not usually a problem, some supermarkets have dedicated English-speaking checkouts.
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[quote user="andyh4"]

Not really that odd.

The chip and pin systems are different - France having the older and more basic version.

[/quote]

Completely untrue.  Whilst the French system was implemented first, it is much more secure in that the information on the card's 'chip' is encrypted.  However, the downside is that the extra flash memory required for encryption is more expensive.  The UK banking industry was unwilling to pay the extra so, in the best traditions of UK institutions, choose the cheaper route.  The result is that UK customers have insecure cards that are much easier to clone than French ones.  In order to fully read UK bankcards, French card authorisation machines need to have new software loaded.  The French banks do not see why they should pay for this as the cost would be flowed down to their domestic customers.  As one, I totally agree!  Retail outlets that have real-time reconciliation can check UK cards which is why many such establishments have no problems.  However, others that batch transact cannot read UK cards hence the difficulty.  If you visit or live in France and have a problem the solution is simple; get a French bank account.  

Brian

 

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Brian

I will bow to your superior knowledge on encryption, although that was not what I was led to beleive.  However it does not change the fact that the problem lies with 2 similar but different protocols which means that some cards cannot be read properly.

 

And we agree about the French Bank account as being the solution.  The trouble is that some folk seem to prefer the embarrasment of irregular card refusal to the cost of getting a French card - includes my friends who travel often enough to France to make one worthwhile.

 

 

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[quote user="andyh4"]

Brian

I will bow to your superior knowledge on encryption, although that was not what I was led to beleive.  However it does not change the fact that the problem lies with 2 similar but different protocols which means that some cards cannot be read properly.[/quote]

Which is precisely what I said…[:P]

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I've only had one problem with an English card, which was just the other day when the old dear in La Poste was convinced that the hologram on my card was the chip! She insisted on putting it in the machine hologram first several times, despite me trying to point out she had it the wrong way around!  Sometimes it won't take to the chip-n-pin route, but they always just swipe it in that case and I have signed instead, so chip-n-pin isn't a reqirement - tho occasionally they ask for a passport if I sign.  I do tend to use my French card mostly now though - plus the more you use it, the less the yearly charge is.

I noticed the other day that the Esso garage just outside of Ouistream now takes English cards - shame as it was rather fun to regularly see the non-French bank holders scratching their heads at the pumps trying to get them to work!!

Matt

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Sorry, Brian, but not quite true.

The French system isn't any more secure. There isn't a "UK system" but rather a European one, called EMV. Almost all existing French cards are dual-standard (French and EMV) but I understand that as of sometime next year they will only be issuing single-standard EMV cards.

There is no extra memory required for encryption on a card. There would be additional processing required in the software in the payment terminal, but that is a different issue.

All French retailers require online authorisation, unless they are prepared to take a chance by increasing their floor limit (the amount above which authorisation is required), even for French cards. What actually happens is that for amounts below the floor limit (100€ in our case), a French card payment goes through instantly. For amounts above that and for all foreign cards, the system must dial up for authorisation.

One problem that people with UK cards may find is that there are now three different types of chip card issued in the UK:

1. chip & signature, very dodgy in France as the shops rarely check the signature;

2. chip & pin with auto-selection of language, these go straight to english for you

3. chip & pin with manual language selection. These require you to select the language on the keypad BUT the people in the shop sometimes refuse to hand over the keypad as it says "wait" on their screen, net effect being that after a while their machine times out and they say your card isn't working.

I understand that the EMV people (ie Visa/Mastercard/etc.) are the people that have told France to get the finger out and adopt the standard. The banks have already written the new software for the terminals and it is free to the businesses (at least those that use the little machines; not sure about those using central processing like big stores).

Incidently, it should be "interesting" when the first of the new single-standard French cards are issued as it will mean that French people will find their cards rejected in automated petrol stations etc.!

 

Arnold

 

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[quote user="mascamps.com"]

3. chip & pin with manual language selection. These require you to select the language on the keypad BUT the people in the shop sometimes refuse to hand over the keypad as it says "wait" on their screen, net effect being that after a while their machine times out and they say your card isn't working.

[/quote]

 

Exactly.

I have been having this problem for over one year with several retailers and have only just got to the bottom of it.

I now try to take the keypad to show them but it isn't easy sometimes!

I have only one person left now to convince, the dragon in the local builders merchant, this will not be an easy one and I may need some helpers to disable her while I press the green key to accept the French language option.

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Wendy actually gave up with one local shop as they absolutely refused to hand over the keypad most of the time and the rest of the time, they grabbed it back from her before she managed to hit the green button!

I appreciate their position though. After all it's effectively the bank telling them to wait before they do the next step (ie hand over the keypad). Why couldn't the banks just say something more sensible? It isn't even that they're that limited by the length of the message they can use "pass keypad" (in French) would fit no problem.

Does anybody actually select the language? There rarely seem to be selection buttons.

Oh, one other complication has appeared: if it's a UK card I see that Auchan (and some others) offer you a choice of paying in euros or pounds. Tried it both ways and it looks like the French (as expected) charge even more to convert the currency than the UK banks. That's before you even consider Nationwide which charges nothing.

 

Arnold

 

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