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Prices remain listed in US dollars   2011-03-24 - Tuoi Tre

Despite the state’s ban on listing prices in foreign currencies, especially U.S. dollars, and the threat of stricter enforcement against violations, many businesses in Ho Chi Minh City these days still list their prices of goods and services in the dollar.

This is common at travel companies, tourist resorts, beauty parlors and motorbike shops.

Listing the prices of goods and services in foreign currencies not only goes against the law but hurt the consumers’ interest as well.


T., resident of HCM City’s District 3, said he asked Perfect Tours Travel Company, located at 273B An Duong Vuong St., Dist. 5, to complete and submit his US visa application for him.

Apart from the visa fee to be paid in dollars to the U.S. government, the company also requested him to pay for their service in dollars, or alternatively, in Vietnamese dong at the free exchange rate of VND21,400/US$1 for March 21. T. rejected the request, arguing that it is unreasonable and illegal for the company to charge the fee in U.S. dollars for a service performed in Vietnam.

On the website of a beauty salon called ND headquartered on 3/2 St., Dist. 10, all the prices of its services, such as skincare, liposuction, and laser skin treatment, are listed in U.S. dollars. Skincare, for example, costs US$150-200, acne treatment US$50-150, and liposuction US$1,500-3,000.

At the office of Beauty Salon ND, a consultant provided us with two price lists for its services. Many services were quoted both in the U.S. dollar and the Vietnamese dong. The employee said prices were listed in U.S. dollars because her parlor also serves foreign customers.

However, the consultant emphasized that local clients could pay either in dong or dollars, but the prices in dong would be adjusted to reflect the free exchange rate at the time of payment.

Risks for consumers

Stopping by a number of motorbike shops on Ly Tu Trong, Phan Dang Luu and Hoang Van Thu streets, we found the prices for imported brand-name scooters were all quoted in dollars.

Each shop, however, applied its own rate of exchange. A shop on Cach Mang Thang Tam Street chose the rate of VND21,000/US$1 while another shop on Ly Tu Trong Street used VND21,350/US$1 for March 21. Some shops even sold secondhand imported scooters in dollars.

Talking with Tuoi Tre, Nguyen The Khai, director of Perfect Tours Travel, admitted the company provideds U.S. visa service for former clients who have once travelled to the U.S. and receives the service fee in the dollar. This is incorrrect and the company will change this practice as of March 22, he said.

Other businesses explained they listed their prices in the dollar because they had paid for the imports in the dollar and the dollars were often purchased at the the free market exchange rate.

Permission from State Bank first

According to Nguyen Hoang Minh, deputy director of the State Bank of Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City, except for credit institutions, customs agencies, and at airports, no transactions, price listings, and advertisements by local residents and non-residents are to be conducted in foreign currencies.

Before they can list prices in foreign currencies, businesses must first seek the approval of the State Bank’s governor by proving the listing is reasonable and necessary. To date, no such special permission has ever been reportedly granted.

Busineeses and companies are not allowed to quote their prices in a foreign currency or even put it next to the local currency, Minh said. Consumers who encounter such practices can inform the State Bank, market control agencies, economic management police or relevant authorities.


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