I landed at London Heathrow today and after clearing customs, proceded to get some cash from an ATM in the lobby. There were many to choose from, but I chose the closest. It was a Travelex machine. I took out 300 GBP. The minute my receipt was printed, I knew something was wrong and I had been taken.
The receipt claimed I had chosen to make the "payment" in USD, that I had been given a choice of doing it in GBP or USD (untrue) and that I had chosen USD. (This is a lie). It also said the transaction was final and there was nothing I could do.
I was livid, because no such choice was given when I was on the machine. This was a clear ripoff/scam with no one around to report it to or complain to. I am an experienced enough traveler to know to never pay for anything overseas in US dollars. I would never do this even though the receipt falsely claims I was given that choice. I was not.
Bottom line, is that I ended up getting charged an extra 10% over the regular exchange rate. I believe the machine did an internal calculation of dollars to pounds and then back to dollars, just to incur more profit. I called my bank, but the money was already gone.
My bank's advice to me was to use a bank ATMs only. They suggested the Royal Bank of Scotland because it is 65% owned by the British Government.
What happened to me is a scam. It's certainly unethical and should be illegal if not already so. The very fact that the receipt reads like a legal document tells me that they themselves know they are ripping the public off, and the receipt tries to make it sound airtight. The receipt also lies about my having a choice of how to do the withdrawal.
Bottom line: beware of ATM machines at Heathrow (and possibly elsewhere). And use only machines that are attached to real banks.