The Post Office

Earlier today, I went to the Post Office in Bromsgrove, to buy some Euros.

The conversation I had with the minion behind the counter is paraphrased as follows :

  • Me: Hi, I’d like to buy $x euros, please?
  • Her: How do you wish to pay?
  • Me: By card? <<waves debit card at her>>
  • Her: We’ll need proof of ID (Passport etc)
  • Me: <<sighs>> Why?
  • Her: It’s an anti-fraud thing, you don’t think like a criminal do you?
  • Me: Errr? <<WTF?>>
  • Her: If you’ve stolen a card, the first thing you do is try and withdraw money using it … blah blah blah fraud blah blah blah ….
  • Me: But, it needs a PIN number to be used…?
  • Her: It’s ok, <<gestures at the card reader infront of me>> – that acts like a cash point. You can withdraw the right amount of cash to pay for your euros using it…
  • Me: <<WTF?>>
  • Her: Now, just put your card in the reader and type in your PIN when requested….
  • Me: <<types in pin>>
  • Her: <<hands over euros>>

I know I’m often a bit dim, but I’m failing to understand the ‘process’. Wasn’t I meant to have proof of ID to buy euros using my debit card?

How is me “withdrawing” cash for her, any different to me paying by card – especially when the process from my point of view is IDENTICAL.


  1. Is it potentially a liability issue? The cashpoint you withdrew the cash from could be run by another company, and they carry the responsibility for reducing fraud? If you bought the Euros from the Post Office, they’d be responsible if you’d “stolen” the money.

    Most of these processes are to do with limiting liability, rather than improving security.

  2. Bryn – no doubt; it just seemed stupid – regardless of how I paid, the process for me would be the same :

    * Tell woman what I want
    * Insert card into machine
    * Wait to type in PIN
    * Remove card, collect money …

  3. If you pull out cash and pay for it and there is a charge back they are not responsible. If you pay them with the card and there is a charge back they are financially liable. She was probably parroting what her employer told her to say.

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