Count Your Change, Before You Leave
By Zulkiple Ibrahim
KUALA LUMPUR : Eating out has turned into a culture of sorts for the inhabitants of our city and those dwelling in other major towns. Whether urgency or convenience, what drives you to grab a bite at a favourite food haunt has now become all about access.
‘Cooking on reaching home,’ was a common grouse faced by most city dwellers with jobs in the city, yet it comes as no surprise that many now opt to eat out with so many pickings out in market.
In the words of a customer, “Eating out is actually cheaper and more convenient.”
COUNT YOUR CHANGE AT THE COUNTER
Recently my wife and I visited a shopping complex in the city and decided to eat at the food court, where the stalls practice self-service. My wife placed our order at a shop and waited to be served, before the cashier called out to us.
“RM14,” said the cashier at the counter.
My wife paid him a RM100 note and accepted the change without bothering to count the exact amount. Instinct made me ask my wife to check how much change she’d received, before she put it away in her handbag.
As it turned out, the change returned was only RM81, instead of the RM86, as expected.
When queried, the cashier simply said, “Oh, another RM 5,” and promptly returned the amount, as if aware of the error, yet hopeful that the customer would walk away.
If it weren’t for my caution, he would have easily made RM5 from an unsuspecting customer! Were the ‘mistake’ to happen to just another 20 customers, who naively accepted the change without checking, the cashier stood to make RM100 for that day.
From what I had observed, the cashier had already ‘realized’ his mistake of shortchanging the customer and had only waited for the customer to ‘walk away.’
Hence, it is advisable for customers to count his change before walking away after the purchase at any counter.
NO USE OF COMPLAINING LATER
When asked, Gurmukh Singh, a consumer and social activist says, “If the customer walks away, only to come back later for claims, then any complaints would simply be brushed aside, regardless of whether the claim is true or otherwise.”
Usually the customer has a genuine complaint, but if he walks too far away or has gone away for a long time, then the cashier might not entertain any of his complaints.
According to Gurmukh, another ‘unhealthy’ habit plaguing the customers is that when asked for the bill, they hand out the money without tallying the bill. Mostly, the ‘boss’ or ‘towkay’, who is the proprietor whether at a roadside stall or mamak shops, delivers the bill, after showing you your bill on a calculator.
Says Gurumukh, “The customer generally forks out the amount without double-checking, while the waiter pockets the change.”
“We do not realize or made aware, that we may have been shortchanged.
“Let just say that a customer is shortchanged for RM1.00. If there are 50 customers, then the amount will be RM50 a day. Imagine how large the total amount obtained this way would amount to in a month. What if the amount (shortchanged) is more than that,” asks Gurmukh.
TOO SHY TO ASK
Many of the customers feel it is too embarrassing to stop and count the change.
“We think that people consider it being too calculative. But after witnessing another customer raise his voice on being shortchanged several ringgits, I started to be more careful. I tallied my change once more, before placing it in my pocket,” says another customer by the name of David Lim.
Lim says he would mentally crosscheck what was told and compare the prices against the price list.
“Sometimes they come with the calculator, and although that looked impressive, I do not trust the calculator too much,” Lim advises.
He recalls an incident where he and his family went to a food court in Petaling Jaya.
“The waiter said the bill was RM 350, but I felt uneasy when I saw him use a calculator. I counterchecked and the right amount was not even RM 300! My advice is that the customers should exercise caution and not allow unscrupulous parties to take charge of the bill. After all you are the person who will foot the bill,” he adds.
NOT ONLY AT EATING SHOPS
Such ‘calculation escapades’ are not only limited to eating shops.
“It can happen at grocery shops or while renewing your insurance cover with an insurance agent,” says Gurmukh, who experienced a similar episode when renewing the insurance for his son’s motorcycle.
“The insurance agent asked me to pay RM240 and I gave him three notes of RM100. I placed the change in my pocket and on returning home discovered that the change was RM40 in four RM10 notes instead of RM60,” he exclaims.
“When I returned to the insurance agent, he insisted that he gave RM 60 and I remained helpless, since it was my mistake for unsuspectingly pocketing the change without checking,” continues Gurmukh.
However, not all shops or waiters are behaving that way. Many other shops are sincere and do not pose problems like that.