Thursday, November 29, 2007

Catastrophe Averted/Pet Peeves

Photo by Paul Culver
Last night a major catastrophe happened. My monitor for my computer had a blow up. For a computer junkie, this was monumental. It was 9:30pm last night, so I ran to Plaza Llama, the local Walmart type store, thinking I could pick something up cheaply. Besides overpriced flat-screens, they were offering USED monitors for $200 (U.S.) and up. As one who surfs the Internet religiously, I knew that this was a ridiculous price. Luckily, I called Mario Sessions, who is coming tomorrow, and he is bringing me a flat-screen.

In the meantime, I have borrowed a monitor from a Dominican friend from around the corner.

Tragedy averted.

It is Christmas-time, and everyone is trying to get their money together for presents. For the last couple of weeks I noticed the police in the airport parking lot. I thought, that's nice. That was until a group came over to inquire how we were doing. I gave them my best "don't even THINK I'm going to give you any money look." I was cordial, shook their hands, and proceeded to get in the car and lock the door. I hear they are getting really aggressive now. Bottom line, unless you are in a generous mood, DON'T give the police any money. It sets a bad precedent.

One other pet peeve that has been on my mind lately. People have been taking cabs from hotels (Jaragua, Hilton, InterContinental, etc.) to the Colonial Zone, and have been charged OUTRAGEOUS amounts. FYI, it does NOT cost RD$300 pesos to go from the Malecon to the Colonial Zone. It should cost no more than RD$120-$150 pesos. If you need a cab, tell the front desk to call you a cab. They will tell you, "you can pick up a taxi out front." BULLSHIT. Just tell them they overcharge tourists, and would prefer a taxi company. A good one I use is Aero Taxi (809.686.1212). They are efficient, come in about 3 minutes, and in 5 years of using them I have only been overcharged once (and I complained about it).

Lastly, please don't change money at the airport. The airport used to give the best exchange rate. Not anymore. The exchange rate is about RD$33.20 per $1 (U.S.), and they are offering RD$30 pesos per $1 (U.S.). That is highway robbery.

Okay, lesson over.

As ever,
The Monaga Blogger


the Allen gallery said...

Soo right about the exchange booth outside the luggage claim area. I read somewhere there is a Banc Reservas ATM machine somewhere in the claim area. Any idea where it is?

With the DRs push to become a technology center in the caribbean, I'm surprised prices for such common peripherals STILL cost top dollar. Hey, Leonel, let's start there!

Anonymous said...

You are right about everything. Be aware of using ATMs as many are now charging foreign currency exchange fees around 3% This is in addition to the normal ATM fees.

the Allen gallery said...

Please elaborate on the ATM currency exchange fee. This is the first I've heard of that.

I know they charge fees for using another banks ATM, but I'm not aware of this 3% currency exchange fee.

What banks are running this scam??? This would definitely change how i access funds in DR.

Please post the info.


Anonymous said...

I know that both Chase and Bank of American charge 3% foreigh exchange fee for using an ATM in another country.....check with your bank.

Anonymous said...

These are U.S. banks charging this fee and I am sure that it was outlined in one of those mailings they send that is about 4 to 6pages long in the smallest font possible.

the Allen gallery said...

LOL. They get you either way. Out of network + currency exchange (extortion) fees if you use an ATM (but the best exchange rate); Lower exchange rate + exchange fee if you use a cambio. Blood suckers.

I guess the only way to avoid fees is going into the branch, approach the teller say "dame peso" and flee. (Kidding).

Monaga said...

I think the best option is to bring dollars, and leave them in your room safe. You can change them as needed, and not carry large amounts around with you.

When I would come on vacation and check my bank statements when I got back, I noticed all the fees every time I used the ATM. I just brought dollars and changed them. There was even the rare occasion when I took some back with me. I mean rare!


Anonymous said...

I agree....I bring cash and leave in the safe....and then I can exchange at the cambio and get a few more pesos without both banks charging fees and then tacking on the 3% foreign exchange fee. Monage is correct. The money must be placed in a secure area like a safe. I put mine in the safe and then give the key to a friend in another room...then I can not be forced to open the safe....I have never had one peso missing or a problem......under the mattress or in your suitcase are horrible places for your money......I also dont get drunk and pass out.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Banco Popular allows you 2 free foreign ATM withdrawals and 2 free foreign inquiries per month. It literally saved my life when I was there for DIH2. I didn't know, at the time, my AMEX ATM card wouldn't work there. Now that AMEX carries the cirrus symbol, it should work.

Anonymous said...

esta riquisimo