Few days ago Croatian media ran a news story which is unfortunately not that uncommon during the tourist season - scam in exchange offices. The latest case happened in Istria, not in Split, but with so many tourists like Croatia has this season, and constant need for Croatian currency, it can happen anywhere. When I say anywhere, I really mean anywhere, not only in Croatia, as some kind of side effect of mass tourism.
In this last case, tourists got only 610 kuna for 100 euros, and the regular rate should be somewhere around 730 and 740. Same goes with ATMs, or cash machines, which are hiding numerous traps for those who don't pay enough attention.
It will be easier in a couple of years when Croatia accepts the euro. Until then, what to do? Tips are always the same. Always read small print to see if there is any crazy commission. Check if rates are different for different amounts you want to change. If there is something suspicious, skip it. Before exchanging, check what the official rate is, you can find it anywhere, especially online. Don't exchange big amounts if you don't need to, many places accept cards.
There is also a set of warnings for ATMs. It's way better to use those belonging to banks which are under more strict control, than so-called independent ATMs which you can find at every corner. Commission and rate differences are sometimes ridiculously big, with terrible consequences. Thus, stick to banks as much as possible. There will be some conversion expenses, but much lower than with those counting on tourists in a hurry. There is one language-related problem with this; Croatian word for ATM is bankomat, which can trick those looking for some "regular" bank machine. Much better way to avoid mistakes is to look for some common bank logos.
With all tricks invented by financial services, avoiding problems became almost a science. The advice I just mentioned is just the tip of the iceberg. Recently, Total Croatia News came up with the whole set of ways to stay financially safe in Croatia. Don't be lazy, read it, it will pay off.
However, what to do when some kind of rip-off happens? Is there a way to correct the mistake? Actually yes, even when we know that the exchange rate I mentioned above is legal.
Croatian National Bank said recently that they can't intervene, because commission is a matter of market. It's usually much higher in popular tourist destinations, and it depends on customers, i.e. tourists, which service they will use. Still, according to Croatian laws, you can request a return if you are not satisfied, but it has to be done by the end of the day when the first transaction was made.