If anyone is interested in the outcome of my UK car hunting adventure…
In the end I went ahead with Plan B (see first post above), but it was indeed quite a saga. I’m going to tell the whole story here as a reference to guide others who may consider doing the same thing.
It did not go according to plan, but I do have the car I wanted
The whole, long story:
My friend, my wife, and I all used the bank transfer option to send funds to each of our Revolut accounts. We all did this within 10 mins of each other on Monday 16th Jan at about 23:40. As it happened we all use different banks, so we were able to get a good sense of transfer speeds per institution. Here’s the breakdown we observed:
AIB: almost exactly 24 hours (funds arrived at approx 23:45 on the 17th)
PTSB: about 44 hours (funds arrived at approx 19:30 on the 18th)
BOI: about 65 hours (funds arrived at approx 16:30 on the 19th)
I must say, the extra wait for the BOI transfer was nerve wracking. When it hadn’t arrived on Wed afternoon we called the bank enquiring about transfer times and were told to be patient because it can take up to a week! Not great… I had booked my flight on the Tuesday (17th) for the Saturday (21st), trusting that the transfers would arrive on time. Thankfully the transfer came through shortly after we called them by coincidence, panic over…
Next, my friend transferred his contribution (loan) to my Revolut account. A €5 test sum first, then the rest. Both happened instantly, thank you Revolut!
Thursday was fun, monitoring the markets and choosing the “right time” to perform the FX. Then there was something said at Davos that resulted in a sudden sharp spike, it spooked me and I traded at what turned out to be exactly the worst rate of the day , a rookie mistake perhaps. Still, it wasn’t a bad rate in the grand scheme of things and of course I benefitted from zero-fee interbank rate, once again thank you Revolut!
At this point, my wife and I had just little over £10k split evenly across our two Revolut accounts. The car was going to cost about £12k, but there’s a £5k limit per Revolut card per 96h period. To cover the remaining £2k I decided it was safest to buy a sterling “Currency Card” from the Post Office. These cards are “zero-commission” but you buy at an elevated rate (bank rates). That final €2k cost me around €60 to exchange, and I even had to top up the card over the course of two days because my own debit card has an unchangeable €1500 daily limit… even if you call them to explain the situation and ask for a temporary increase. Why, why, why… is the limit not there for my own protection?
I should say, before all this began I had spoken with the car dealer about his willingness to accept payment via three prepaid debit Mastercards. He said it should be OK, but that he’d have to check with his payment processor to find out what the merchant fee would be. I didn’t hear back from him, so assumed all was good.
Saturday morning: I set off from Dublin airport on a one-way ticket at 8:30. A short flight and a bus ride later, I arrived at the dealer’s office around 10:30. Saw the car, test-drove it, loved it, decided to buy it. Time was now about 12:00.
WARNING: you’re about to enter a world of payment pain!
So I showed the dealer the three debit cards, and he looked at them quizzically. He then told me that although he had called his payment processor (WorldPay) earlier in the week, they couldn’t provide an exact figure for the merchant fee without having the actual card numbers. So he called them again right in front of me, I heard the conversation; in summary, it went like this:
- He gives one of the card numbers to WorldPay to check the fee.
- They say they still can’t be sure, and ask him to call Mastercard.
- They tell him that only WorldPay can give him the exact figure.
- They say they can’t tell him.
- He gets irritated with them, I get anxious.
- While he’s on the call I suggest we try a small card payment (£10), just to check the fee.
- He asks if they could tell him if we made a small transaction right then.
- They say they could tell him, but only at 8am the next morning!
- He gives them some sharp feedback about their service, and ends the call.
We therefore arrived at an impasse! The dealer was not prepared to let me pay £12k by card without knowing what fee he’d be charged, which I felt was fair enough. I should say, I discovered quite early on that there was no haggling with this guy. That became pretty clear to me after he refused to give a discount on a set of second hand OEM roof bars that he had told me about via email earlier in the week; he wanted £100 extra for them, no less (worth £200 new). I initially pushed quite hard for a combined deal, but there was no budging him at all. I think his approach must be to price to sell and accept no nonsense; admittedly I thought it was a good price to begin with and he probably sensed that. Anyway, when it came to possibly being charged up to 6% in card fees, there was simply no chance he’d take that risk.
Frustrated, I asked him how he normally accepted payments, he told me typically customers pay by credit card or bank transfer. For credit cards he said he always passes the known merchant fee on to the customer, but that there is no fee for bank transfers and UK-to-UK account transfers show up in a matter of minutes. Ah ha I thought, maybe since Revolut funds are held in a UK based Barclays account a transfer to him might also show up within minutes.
We tried a £10 transfer… and waited… and waited… 30 mins later there was still nothing. To be fair, Revolut says outbound bank transfers can take several working days, so it was a long shot anyway. The waiting gave us time to consider many other backup plans. It was now around 13:45; to add to the angst we were both getting a little hungry.
In reality there were very few other options that meant I could pay and drive away that day, which was obviously my preference. In the end it boiled down to two possibilities:
- We go to his bank physical branch and do some kind of direct lodgement using my three cards, if possible.
- He sets up Revolut and I pay him £10k via Revolut and the £2k with my prepaid card.
We agreed to try those two options in that order, and that if it came to it I’d give him time to research Revolut before he signed up.
So, pursuing option 1 we set off into the town (only 10 mins away) to try the bank lodgement option. We arrived at the bank and spoke to an assistant. We were informed that they don’t do card based lodgements unless the card had been issued by that bank, and that the only option was to take out cash from the ATM and lodge it directly into his account. Clearly that was not really an option, since all the cards have ATM withdrawal limits much lower than the daily POS transaction limit.
So we headed back to his office, via his own home to pick up his passport (to be used for Revolut ID verification, if he could satisfy himself that it wasn’t a scam), and arrived back around an hour later. It was now probably about 15:15, and we still hadn’t eaten anything; both of us clearly showing signs of weariness from the whole damn protracted process. He spent a while investigating Revolut and getting set up and verified, while I called my wife to ask her to transfer her £5k into my account. Again, that happened refreshingly instantaneously! Thank you Revolut!
So, by now it was 15:40, everything was set. I began by paying the £2k with my prepaid currency card which cleared off its balance. Yeah, the fee was unknown, but he agreed we’d both been through a lot and that he’d take whatever hit there’d be on that portion. Next, the Revolut-to-Revolut part, we started with a £5 test transfer, it worked… all that remained then was the final payment of £9995… would there be some hold on the transfer of such a large sum?.. would yet another setback mean I’d have no option but to fly back and travel over again the following weekend?.. no, thankfully no… it worked! Saga over. We finished the paperwork and at 16:00 I was finally the happy owner of the car! Thank you, thank you Revolut!
We shook hands, breathed a sigh of relief, and just then another customer walked in… I had just taken almost 6 hours of this poor guy’s day, it was time for me to go. I was given the keys, packed up, and freed him for what I hope was another potential sale that day. He was probably starving though.
I had a four hour drive back to Holyhead, and I needed fuel for the car, and for myself! There was no way I could make the 20:30 sailing I had planned to take. The next sailing departed at 2:30 in the morning.
Word of warning. There is NOTHING open in Holyhead after about 23:00… except a McDonalds.
Finally, myself and the car arrived home safely at 7:10 on Sunday morning, passing the Aircoach where I had boarded it exactly 24 hours earlier.
I repaid the loan to my friend as soon as I could; via Revolut
Well, that’s my very long story about what you’d think should have been a quick transaction in this modern age. However, it was not. All traditional banking systems and institutions that were involved either failed me, delayed me, or hindered me in some way or another. Revolut on the other hand worked perfectly and literally saved my day. I realise this may sound like an enormous Revolut plug and I guess it is, but it is also a genuine story about a real transaction.
I am glad to see that Revolut for Business has launched since this ordeal. I just hope the pricing model is competitive enough to encourage use by small businesses who operate on very tight margins.
In any case, once again, thank you Revolut!