Why does everyone expect us to charge in US Dollars?

Dollar and Euro signs - ©iStockphoto.com/ArsgeraAm I right in thinking that if you go on holiday to another country, you usually exchange some cash into the local currency and pay with that?

Or do you go into a shop in say, Madrid, and ask what something costs in a Dollars?

Certainly you would not try to actually pay in Dollars, would you?

Admittedly there are some exceptions, such as the fast food outlets in Germany near U.S. airforce bases, that really do accept dollars and display the exchange rate on the tills.

But generally speaking, if you are in the U.S. you pay in dollars, in most of Europe you pay in Euro, and in the United Kingdom you pay in Pounds sterling.

So you would think that the same would be true in the on-line world as well, wouldn’t you?  If you buy something from a website based in the U.S., then the prices are going to be in dollars and your credit card charged accordingly.  In Europe the prices are going to be in Euro.  In fact, it may be illegal not to price something in Euro if your website is based there.

And yet whilst those of us in Europe who book services and buy e-books from U.S.-based companies and bloggers hardly even bat an eyelid when we order something on-line in dollars, it can be a big deal for someone in the States to order  something in Euro.

I used to have a reader on my mailing list who would consistently reply to any new product announcements with a one-liner “I need that in dollars”.  And we even had a discussion in the Beyond Blogging Project about the pricing there, and whether using a Euro price tag would put people outside of Europe off signing up for it.

So where is the fine line between catering to your customers’ wishes, and other considerations such as local legislation and being able to plan your income?

If I were to charge for my services in US dollars, for example, then my actual income would be dependent on the exchange rate on the day that someone pays their bill.  That is not only to my disadvantage, but it means that my clients within the Euro zone could be paying more for my services than those outside of it, simply because of the exchange rate.

Or I’d have to set my dollar price such that this did not matter, but then the customers paying in dollars might actually end up paying more that way.

At the end of the day it’s the ignorance of it all that I don’t like.  If you want to book the services of any company in Germany, then you are going to have to either deal in Euro in come to some arrangement about prices in Dollars.

For a simple price conversion of an e-book though, you could just a website like xe.com, as I do when I buy something in dollars or sterling.

Just remember that there’s a difference between a nice e-mail asking if it is possible to work in a different currency, and the on-liner “I need that in dollars” approach.

Whether you agree with me or not, please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

About Graham Tappenden

Graham Tappenden is a self-employed IT consultant and ex-pat blogger living in Germany.

Comments

  1. I think it runs deeper than that. I think most US businesses assume that 1/ Everyone online wants to work in dollars and 2/ Everyone online is in the US!

    Great example yesterday – my hosting company sent me a $75 voucher to use for Bing advertising. I went through the 15 minute pain of signing up to Bing, then it wouldn’t let me put my voucher code in until I entered credit card details. Once I’d done that I finally entered them….to be told the offer is only applicable to people based in the US!

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