It started with shopkeepers giving fresh mint candies to people instead of one or two rupees change at the local ‘kiranas’ and tea stalls. However, this tendency soon passed on to bigger supermarkets and bakeries.
Many Bengalureans opine that this is an unfair trade practice and consumers should refuse to accept it. By taking toffees instead of loose change, we are simply encouraging this action to extend to the next level.
“After I got to know that it is a common and deliberate trend among all shopkeepers, I stopped accepting these toffees. I make it a point to ask for the deserved change. If the shopkeeper is adamant about not giving change, I pick up something that I like instead — maybe a packet of chips or gems,” says Mansi Gupta, a product designer.
She also said that if it is a regular shop she goes to, she makes a note of all the change she has to get and points it out to the shopkeeper in her next visit. “For example, if I have to get five rupees from the shopkeeper, I will purposely buy something worth 15 rupees and give him only 10, so he doesn’t have a choice but to adjust the money he has to pay me,” Mansi adds.
The way she tackles this situation benefits both of them, instead of her picking up something that she is not really interested in. But this clever practice of shopkeepers is causing displeasure to many. “Many a times, shopkeepers argue with me saying I should carry change instead of asking them for it. And if a product costs around 12 rupees and I give him, say, 15 rupees, they will conveniently keep the entire amount; expecting us to understand. There have been times when they are rude enough to ask me to fetch change from other shops and come back to them,” complains Jai Sheelan, a software engineer.
And while people are still pondering over the logic behind handing over candies and toffees in lieu of exact change, the toll booths too have picked up this practice. Skandashree, a professional, says, “It's not only a common practice in the shops but now they have started giving chocolates at the toll posts as well. When my family and I travel from Bengaluru to Mysuru or even on the Nice road, I always get a handful of ‘kopiko’ candies.
They don’t even consider if the customer wants to have them or not.” “Though most of them claim that they don’t have change, I have caught them lying several times and demanded the change back. And now shopkeepers have started doing this as a substitute for 10 rupees as well,” she adds.
Shopkeepers often thrust a number of candies or a packet of biscuits into a customer’s hands with an excuse that they don’t have enough coins to pay them back. Does this mean that the value of chocolates is equal to the value of one rupee or even a five rupee coin (something that most people in the city need at various places — bus, autos and even in the metro)?
And if that is the case, this practice should be valid for customers as well. Unfortunately, what is noticed is the same shopkeeper who has given those chocolates will refuse to accept them instead of cash, leading to arguments.
“Customers in such situations should act clever and try to procure the value in any way possible. It is not a fair practice and should be stopped immediately. I make sure to carry enough change for me to avoid this issue,” says Manuel Jayabal, a Project Manager.