Paypal charges somewhere around 4% to convert US dollars to Aussie dollars when they pay me. What is this fee for? All conversions are computerised now. I have written them and they don't respond. To me, it's theft.
The most minimal elements of theft are:
- An unauthorised taking or use of another's property; and
- An intent to permanently deprive that person of that property or its use
You've authorised the fee as per the terms of service that you agreed to. If you didn't read the terms of service, you are deemed to have read it.
As the first element is not satisifed, no, it's not theft.
As to what that fee is for, it's not really a question of law, but because they're a business and they are entitled to recover the costs of providing products or services and make a profit when you use their products or services, I fairly confidently would say that they're charging you to recover the costs of providing you their products and services as well as to make a profit from your use of their products and services. But again, not a question of law.
Not really, just about every currency exchange company does this. After all, how would they make money?
The story around this is that you are being charged for a service. You're paying them for the completion of a service, where they convert the currency of the money for you. Similar things can include being charged for delivery when buying things online, or having a real estate agent have commission from the sale of a house.
So no, it's not theft.
You agreed that they could charge for this when you accepted their terms of service (fees and charges).