The holiday francs come freely

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The Independent Online
The prospect of an end to commission for holiday currency moved a step closer today with Thomas Cook changing sterling into French francs for no charge.

The offer for holidaymakers is for today only but the company is considering longer commission "amnesties" on the most popular foreign currencies next year.

A spokesman for Thomas Cook, which controls about a quarter of the multi- million-pound high-street business and has 600 shops and bureaux de change, said a pilot scheme with Spanish pesetas earlier this year had been "extremely successful".

Nick Agarwal, the company's public relations manager, said: "We found that the trial with pesetas generated a lot of interest and from our point of view this kind of offer can bring in other business."

He said the company was actively considering bringing in the scheme on a more permanent basis for travellers next year, though the free service would probably be restricted to the larger-volume currencies such as francs and pesetas. The company's normal commission is 1 per cent.

The pesetas offer in June boosted orders and purchases by more than 500 per cent and Thomas Cook hopes its offer on francs, the second most popular holiday currency, will have a similar impact.

The deal applies to cash transactions only and is limited to a maximum of pounds 2,000 on any one deal.

Lindsey Allardyce, Thomas Cook's foreign exchange marketing manager, said: "If you are off to France this summer, make sure you get your currency now. Anyone crossing the Channel this summer would be mad to miss out on a currency deal as crazy as this."

The offer is a boost for tourists at the end of a week when it emerged that at least one large holiday tour operator, Airtours, intends to increase the price of some of the holidays which it advertises in its brochures, by up to pounds 30 a time.

That move was condemned by consumer groups yesterday, who said they were considering whether to make a legal challenge.

A spokeswoman for the Consumers' Association said that it was an offence for companies to give prices in their brochures that were "inaccurate or misleading".

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