Consumer champion Which? has revealed that travellers could be losing out or cashing in when exchanging their holiday money, depending on their postcode.
The research found that holidaymakers in some areas had to stump up an additional £25 to change £500 into Euros.
The Post Office and Thomas Cook proved to be the worst culprits when it came to differences in regional exchange prices, effectively subjecting consumers to a “postcode lottery”.
Which? examined the pound-euro exchange in ten UK regions, looking at rates offered by Thomas Cook, the Post Office, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda. It found that there were “unfair” variations in exchange rates from city to city.
A difference of €31 was recorded when Which? exchanged £500 in Thomas Cook branches in Sheffield and Manchester, where it received €585 and €554 respectively.
This means that holidaymakers are short-changed by roughly £25, money that could have been put towards other travel expenses.
“While we understand that local competition may play a part in the rates set, it is unfair that people are missing out on the best currency exchange rates just because of where they live,” said Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which?.
A discrepancy was also found between branches of the Post Office in London, Glasgow and Birmingham. While €578.50 was offered in exchange for £500 at the first two branches, customers in Birmingham had to make do with lower figure of €565.
In response, the Post Office argued that it had flexible rates in 400 branches in order to be competitive, but stated that rates are consistent everywhere else.
“All of our customers are able to benefit from a uniform and highly competitive exchange rate, which is offered online for next day delivery free of charge to their home or to a Post Office branch, whichever is more convenient,” said Andrew Brown, head of travel money at the Post Office.
Significant regional differences were also found in branches of Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s, while M&S offered the same rates across all areas of the UK.