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The 50-centavo thief

November 4. 2011

Call me a weirdo; I don’t care. I’m a girl, but the sights and sounds of a good hardware store sends happy hormones through my brain. I can easily spend 50,000 smoolas there in an hour.

So, it was with some restraint that I went through Ace Hardware store on SM City North EDSA. I only needed a 4.5-inch-diameter PVC pipe and after I get that, I’m stepping out. Or that was my plan.

When I walked in with my daughter, I saw a gel hot-and-cold compress, which in the long run would be much cheaper than the disposable one. (I have four kids, the smallest is still a toddler and you know how that goes.) Then I picked up neon band-aid for dear daughter who needed it regularly for a fingernail being treated by the dermatologist.

I thought, hey, two packs before the PVC pipe, not bad. (My eye was going back to the rechargeable electric fans at a 3x-per-minute rate.)

It turned out the PVC pipe was too long for my needs so I didn’t get buy it. I stuck to the straight line between the PVC pipe aisle and the checkout counter and felt quite proud of myself while paying in cash. Not baaad, I thought.

Then the cashier asked me, “Is it okay if your change lacks 50 centavos?”

“Why, of course not,” I said, flippant.

This has happened to me countless times, and normally I’d just let the incident pass. Fifty centavos or 40 centavos, what does it matter when I don’t have small coins myself? It’s such a small thing.

For some reason, however, this time I was in no mood to humor the girl. Hey, if she doesn’t have change, then she should know better than to burden her clients with her need for it!

To my absolute surprise, the girl opened the cashier and pulled out two 25-centavo coins. She did have the change after all!

Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve been scammed. We all thought it was a necessary evil that we had to live with, and that giving in to the cashiers of this city was for the public good because it reduced conflict. But somehow, this event robbed me of the feeling of being a good citizen. The nerve of the 50-centavo thief!

Assuming each cashier would serve, say 50 clients all day and that 50 centavos is a good average for these “short-changes” (pun intended), and there are, say 400 cashiers in one mall, that’s at least 10,000 pesos taken from us consumers.

Little things do matter. And there is no right way of putting one over other people, no matter the financial benefits to you.

This got me thinking, what are the other things that I’ve been thinking were necessary evils that are actually preventable? In the case of the small coins, I’ve recently obtained the habit of collecting the 5- and 10-centavo coins and using them to make sure I get the exact change at the malls. Some people might call that nitpicky and beancounter-y, but boy, do I love being a non-conformist.

Probably, ATM fees would fall under this category. Banks should not charge us for this; they are already earning a lot! So, don’t give them the satisfaction. Take the time to go to your own bank’s ATM.

I would love to hear about your examples!

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Posted in Spending.


7 Responses

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  1. Nicole says

    Hi Ms Salve! I follow your On the Money for as long as I could remember. Hope to see fresh blog posts back here again. Keep up the good work!

  2. Roger Jamin says

    Our grocery stores here in Naval, Biliran do the same. A 65-centavo change would very seldom be handed to you. These cashiers are robbing their customers in broad daylight.

  3. jeffrey cagalingan says

    nice article you have there, reality do bite not sometimes but most often. nowadays, we are always on the move and we don’t want to be delay. so instead of waiting for the change – which you actually have paid in full (with 12%percent vat) you just leave in dismay. one thing i can do about it is I let her right in the receipt the change she owes me including her name and signature. then make use of it when I buy there for my next consumption. it may not be the best solution but i was able to send a message to the teller: its not always a good excuse for not having a small change. as a consumer, i do have a right to exercise it. besides i did not stole it I paid it in full.

  4. JONA SANTOS says

    same here in our place at the drugstores, grocery stores, etc. they have been practicing this for a long period of time, and really annoys me. this 50 centavos syndrome is a big no-no!

  5. Chris says

    Nice article. It makes me want to follow your example, not for the same money-loving reasoning that you folks harbor but only to prevent these cashiers from committing a crime against their own soul.

  6. java says

    at SM department stores most of the time cashiers do that, no coin change or they give you candies, and if u refuse, u will hear, “barya lng eh”… Also Bus conductors or jeepney drivers, “Sorry po walang barya eh…”
    So to get even when they do it or i hear them say things like that…
    I go back to their stuffs, check everything on display and just leave it in chaos…. hehehe bahala silang mag-ayos ulit….
    But I learned my lesson, always carry spare coins…. hehehe

  7. bmxclifford says

    Same goes in PUJ’s (jeep/bus). Some (if not all) tend to keep you waiting for your change till it’s forgotten. Back then, I just let it go to avoid argument etc but I have realized if it’s happening to me most likely to others as well. Worst is it’s not just 50 centavos. Often it’s 1 peso and sometimes 5 peso. Whew!!



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