Ever wonder what’s the value of loose change? As a consumer, we all have gone through the experience of buying something from groceries, fast food chains, drugstores or department stores. Also, as a commuter, with prices of diesel increasing daily as much, or more often than not, greater than the most recent oil price rollback, we paid at least the minimum fare for our daily commute. Here are some thoughts:
For most of us without the benefit of personal transport, commuting is such a wonderful daily experience. Prior to the recent fare increase with the minimum pegged at PhP6.50, most commuters only paid PhP6.00, much to the exasperation of PUJ drivers! Commuters have always given themselves a PhP0.50-discount because most drivers when handed PhP7.00, there is a tendency not to return the PhP 0.50 change for the PhP6.50 minimum fare. Although Land Transportation Office [LTO] and Land Transport Franchising & Regulatory Board [LTFRB] reminded drivers to keep the available loose change for their passengers, however, there must be an unfortunate scarcity of loose change on early mornings. Whenever commuters giving PhP7.00 for their respective minimum fare and demanding for their loose change, drivers having none are wont to give PhP1.00 back to minimize the brunt of passenger’s wrath of keeping the change for themselves. Some passengers even would lash out on such incidents. Thus, when the minimum fare was increased by PhP1.00, making the minimum at PhP7.50 for the first four kilometers, passengers were paying PhP7.00, i.e., automatically giving themselves again a PhP0.50-discount!
There was a time, when the 1-centavo Lapu-Lapu was still used in most establishments in Cebu, especially in Mactan Airport. On my recent trip to and from there, however, I noticed that the Lapu-Lapu coin was nowhere to be found in circulation even in Lapu-Lapu’s birthplace. In the past, a PhP99.99 item sold, at least the loose change, i.e., one Lapu-Lapu coin found its way back to my palms. There was even a time while buying something priced PhP99.00, and giving a hundred-peso bill for the purchase, the sales clerk apologized that the store was out of one-peso coins and said, Would you care if I give you two candies as change? The candies were made of gluey or dissolved sugar with artificial flavor and color wrapped in a thin transparent plastic. I was tempted to reply: Then maybe I should have paid you a bag of candies worth PhP99.00 instead of a hundred peso? I thought then that there must be some sort of collusion between all the department stores whereby prices are pegged PhP99.00 as a pricing ploy and hoped that consumers will just donate their loose change for whatever social responsibility cause the corporate headquarters of the department store chain was sponsoring!
Most department stores, especially those renting in those big, air-conditioned, malls are notorious with keep-the-change syndrome. Take for example: buying a bunch of items in a Gaisano grocery or Mercury Drug. A total purchase of, say, PhP985.75 at Gaisano, and giving the sales clerk a PhP1,000.00-bill elicited a suggestion to give her PhP5.75 and she will give me PhP20.00 back. Having no loose change with me, she only gave me PhP14.00 back, no candy this time. Oh, it is just a 25-centavo kept in favor of Gaisano, but ever wonder how many 25-centavo are kept if there were a thousand incidents such as these for the whole day, then Gaisano would have gained PhP250.00 just for keeping the change from these thousand customers? Lucky if those extra gained were tipped for the sales clerk!
At least in Mercury Drug, one thing is certain: whenever the loose change is at least 50-centavos, the sales clerk rounds it off to the nearest peso. Thus, a PhP775.50 total sales, and giving a PhP1,000.00 bill for my purchases, the sales clerk gave me PhP225.00. Yet, when the total sales amount to, say, PhP606.75, only PhP393.00 was returned! I once joked the sales clerk about this, and she sheepishly said: Will credit you the loose change next time you buy! And if I do not do so, I thought, Mercury Drug will donate it to some worthy cause?
It is a good thing that paying the electricity bill to the local power distributor, any loose change during the cash payment not given to the consumer during the transaction is credited to the next bill.
Yesterday, the same thing happened while dining in Chow King. The Value Kings advert specifically claimed: You want change? but opting to try its Wanton Mami for PhP49.00, and giving PhP50.00, the sales clerk claimed to just send over the one-peso change back with the order served plus the receipt. Received both minutes later, but the one-peso change was gone with the wind! Aha, maybe they kept the one-peso change as my automatic donation to Bantay Bata 163?! I thought donations were voluntary, anyway it will be for a good cause!
Maybe all these loose change-deprived establishment should price their items for sale to the nearest whole peso instead of using the ploy of pricing something with the PhP0.99-suffix or PhP0.95-suffix when the establishment do not have ample supply of Lapu-lapu coins or 5-centavos for change! Maybe, moreover, the LTO should see to it that the minimum commuter fares are pegged at multiples of one peso, instead having a fraction of one-peso in the formula.
Is the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas [Central Bank of the Philippines] not minting the one-centavo coin, or for that matter, fractions of one peso, any longer? If the people of the Philippines are not using fraction of one-peso: one, five, ten, or twenty-five centavos, in their daily commercial transactions maybe it is time to make the one-peso coin as the smallest denomination of Philippine currency. What’s the use of minting the coins of a fraction of one-peso when nothing can be bought with it anyway?
Loose change, anyone? It’s more of lost change for me!
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