Are you being robbed one rupee at a time?

Published: September 23, 2010

If a product is priced at Rs199 why should we pay Rs200?

As I asked for one rupee in change from the cashier a fellow customer on the next billing counter took a whole 180 degree turn and looked at me as if I was an insect.

To add to my embarrassment the cashier rolled his eyes and took out a five rupee note and said “you can keep this instead.” He made me feel like a beggar for asking for my own money. Obviously, I did not keep it but amused and astonished I moved away.

The next day I discussed the incident with my friends. Most of them seemed to have the same opinion as that of the lady at the store. “For God sakes! How could you asked for Rs 1 ?” said one. Another said “Thank God, I was not with you!”

A few did agree with the principle of thing.  It was my money and it should have been returned to me. But this is one of the facts that have become a part of our daily lives.  It is a predetermined fact that the shop keeper will ‘keep the change’ whether you want him to or not. Asking for it will below your stature.

Personally, I strongly feel the need to revise the definition of consumer crime here. Consumer crimes are exploitation of consumers using unfair means and unethical trade practices like black marketing, adulteration of food and edible oil. Consumer theft is among the list of consumer crimes of which I was a victim and many of you are too, willingly or resentfully.

Let’s face it,  it has become a part of our society and on a much smaller scale it is actually corruption deeply embedded and accepted in the system. Petrol stations are a perfect example. If you cannot pay back in paisas, please do not use it as a unit of currency unless you have a proper system like in the telecom sector. In case there is no option; at least the concept of basic ‘rounding-off-the-figure’ could be used; that is somewhat fair.

Let’s assume that a sandwich company has ‘psychologically priced’ their product at Rs. 199 but the fact is they actually charge you Rs. 200. If the company sells 200 sandwiches at the end of the day, they will have the revenue of 201 sandwiches without having to spend a single penny for that last sandwich. Of course this is just a hypothetical example and these figures do not reflect real ones. The point is not how much ‘extra’ they are earning but how we have come to accept such unfair and unethical means of doing business.


Miriam Mehdi

A business student and an instructor, who actively takes part in social activities. Her interests include debate, writing and teaching.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • sadaf

    Very Nice and completly agree with writerRecommend

  • Sadaf.

    Small shops and grocery stores usually add a rupee worth of sweets or candies in place of the One Rupee.
    Agree with you on principle, but one thind irks me. There are no longer any one or five rupee notes in distribution, there only are coins. Recommend

  • Aftab Siddiqui

    Totally agree with your view point but I always ask for the change because its my money and I have every right to ask the change. in almost all major Shoe store they are following the trend set by BATA for selling stuff with 99/- at the end. And its almost certain that they won’t give you anything in return. The best possible way to to swipe a credit card :) thats what I do where ever I end up in this situation ok you don’t have change than just return my cash and charge me through credit card. At one incident the shopkeeper gave me 1Re. from his wallet. This is a moral issue of our society.Recommend

  • abu suleman

    very well said,,,Recommend

  • Aina

    I myself have experienced the rolling eyes and smiles if i ask for ‘my change’ at shops and at fuel stations. Still i make it a point to ask for the change. some shopkeepers do keep sweets / candies at the counter to offer you one or two for your change.Recommend

  • jai

    completely agree. we have this “chalta hai” attitude in India too. They’ll give you candy instead of change. I once told a shopkeeper i’m going to pay for what i buy with candy too since he was using it as an acceptable form of currency. I’ve been to many western countries and they always give you the exact change back with the receipt. That is how it should be done. This kind of forced sale is very annoying and shops make millions in extra sales because people are ashamed of asking 1 rupee back even though it is their own hard earned money.

    You should have taken the 5 rupees, that would teach them a lesson. How many people are they going to give 5 rupees to?Recommend

  • Shahryar Ahmed

    I agree with the author. I have experienced the same a few times, but I make it a point to take my Rs. 1 back or atleast embarrass the & point out to the business.

    Subway is one franchise which is involved in this sort of practice since long, especially the zamzama outlet & whenever I have bought a sandwich from them they have never given me back my Rs. I guess in this way they have earned atleast around Rs. 50 just from me in the past year or so.

    I recently had an argument with the lady there regarding my change & asked her why have they priced t such a way? The answer I got back was its priced accordingly to its US parent company. This is a load Bull S**T.

    Someone has to look into this issue one of these days.Recommend

  • Gorgh

    A deeply rooted i would say emblezzment of money AND Corruption which is high lighted by the well versed writter, excellent.Recommend

  • Erfan Afghan

    That’s so true. B/w this one rupee that you don’t receive ” Neither comes in Zakaat, Nor Khairaat” It’s like you threw one rupee.

    The prime example of not giving you one rupee is at the GAS Station. If they the bill is 100.40 they’ll charge you 101 rupees. If the bill is 98.50 they’ll still charge you 100 rupees. Recommend

  • Atika Naeem

    very true totaly agree with you mariam ..nice one.Recommend

  • Mahvesh

    You’re not a criminal – I agree with this. We used to get paid back in toffees for Rs.2-3 in change that was due, until we realized how that can accumulate. Ask back for that Rs.1 by reversing the situation – would the gas station employee let you off if you can’t pay those 2 rupees? Recommend

  • Shahid Javed

    I fully agree to you. Such things define attitude of a society towards life. In Australia, they even return you five cents….Recommend

  • parvez

    Nice article. Taking it one step further, how many times have you eaten out, even at posh
    places and paid the bill without checking ?
    Well, next time check and you’ll be quite surprised at the mistakes favouring the restaurant.Recommend

  • Rashid

    That was thought-provoking, productive analysis. Very well done!

    “at least the concept of basic ‘rounding-off-the-figure’ could be used; that is somewhat fair.”

    I have seen this at some pumps.Recommend

  • Salb Ali

    This is very True and mostly happening these days, happend with me Lots of time.

    Every Time I do a Online Cash Transfer or Pay Credit Card Bill by Cash I am deprived of 4 Rupees … You were Lucky He Offered you 5 Rupees Note … May be he offered you as you are Girl :)

    Any ways what I decided later was to to ask them to give me back my 4 Rupees, else I will ask you manager, why we should leave its our right n Halaal ki Kamai .. MashaAllah.

    By the way how much those cashiers earn this way … Recommend

  • Aziz Hirani

    very right.. i remember that i used to bluntly ask for 1 rupee change at food outlets but since i was a kid at that time, nobody looked at me like they looked at you.. however, i would like to connect this issue and give it a broader picture which is that we need RAISE OUR VOICE no matter how petty the issue is. masla yeh hai ke hum sharam mein hi margaye..Recommend

  • Najba

    Agree with u all the way, even this practice of giving sweets instead of money is a trick by the shopkeepers they sell what we dont want to buy. They’re shopkeepers they’re supposed to have change, If they dont have it they ought to get it from the bank but give the consumers their money back! My relatives were running a shop in lahore and they used to make sure that they had change before opening the shop everyday.
    These little things tell u all about a society, very good point raised. When i ask my husband to wait for the change at any place and its 5 or 10 rupees he says forget it, but we should not forget it we should wait for them to bring back the change and give it to the needy people instead!Recommend

  • Sana Saleem

    You are right but sometimes we really feel embarrased asking back our own 1 or 2 rupee and I don’t know why ! Recommend

  • Rafaeel Akbar

    5 Rupee Notes are back.Recommend

  • Miriam

    Thank you all =).
    By changing ourselves in this regards is the only we can change this norm, which it has become, of our society.Recommend

  • Rana Fahad

    I don’t agree with your point you mentioned regarding the “Freud” on petrol stations where they charge in paisa if they can’t return it back. The same point was raised by Javed Chaudery in his program “Kal Tak” but unfortunately this theory is not applicable as such as he mentioned or you are highlighting it as a crime. Most of the times when you go to the petrol station you ask to have petrol of Rs. 100 rather than ask for 1.5 liters or so. The gauges and meters are digital. So there is no chance of keeping your few paisas with them, assuming that the digital meters are not pre-programmed to show wrong readings. Recommend

  • Ghausia

    I don’t mind being paid back in candy because I hate having so many coins in my wallet and I can give the candy to the children in my family. But it really irks me, what’s the point of it. Even when shopkeepers do return the coin to you, its just so irritating having such a huge collection of coins and I’m sorry, I don’t give to beggers. They’re in the prime of health, they can easily get a job, if its someone extremely old or mazoor that’s one thing, or hijras, them I willingly give to, but still am I to go around hunting for old and mazoor beggers so I can get rid of the coins? And then shopkeepers make a huge issue that “Baji note dede na, itni coins kaise ginun.”Recommend

  • Asma Nisar

    well written miriam
    and u r so true about this unethical practise going on in our society!! :)Recommend

  • Umer Zubair

    Well done Miriam,
    In few month Gov is going to issue 10 and 20 rupee coins then the 1 ,2 ,and five rupee coins
    will be in short supply and will not be available so the last domain coin will be 10 rupee only.
    I can remember my childhood when same thing happen with 1,2 5,10 pessa coins alonge with char anny and aath any coin.May be few of you saw those 25 pesa and 60 pesa coin.
    Its shows that how sharp increase in inflation in our country.
    We should insist our small domain coins back from shop keepers.Recommend

  • Zahida Mansoor

    Well done Miriam,
    Enjoyed reading your article! It’s an unethical practice and we need not feel embarrassed to ask for the change be it a rupee coin or more!Recommend

  • Maryam Rauf

    well done Miriam :)
    and i completely agree with u :)Recommend

  • Farrukh Mahmud

    Miriam Excellent article and this is true in our daily lives but we can’t help it.


  • Asad Durrani

    I agree with what you have said except for a few things.

    In case of Petrol Pumps and telecos I dont think its always true, most of the times you don’t say that you need 2 Kgs of CNG or 1 Ltr of Petrol but instead you ask for a Rs. 200 petrol and same for the CNG as well. So your money is fully used. But in case of getting the tank full, yes, its true, they never give any paisas back and u ll end up in a loss of rupee 1 or 2 but again this will happen even if the price of petrol is set to a whole number, thinking logically and mathematically :)

    As far as telcos are concerned, your money is not eaten up, lets say you have Rs 100.37 as your balance and on calling @ a rate of 3.25(inclusive of Tax) paisas per minute, your account balance after 2 minutes call will be Rs. 93.87 which you can consume. If it had not been so you would have had Rs.93.

    I am worried that most of shoe shops have eaten a lot of my money, how can I claim it back :P??

    What I would like to add in what you’ve said is that telcos are charging for per minute in most of the packages accept a few in which rates are high. How can one charge me for a minute if I have just used the service for 1 second continuing the same logic how can one charge me for 1 second even if I have used the service only for 0.1 sec.

    I am going over mathematical :P :DRecommend

  • Rana Fahad


    Asad, you haven’t read the comments. I have already pointed out the case of petrol pumps. ;)Recommend

  • Asad

    yes ur right.Recommend

  • Kainaz

    If i were in ur place, i wud have taken the 5 rupees from the cashier and returned him 4 rupees change. This wud have acted as a tight slap across his face.

    This practice is now also seen in banks when going to pay ur utility bills.Recommend

  • Asim


    completely agree , why should ashamed but sometimes I left but not due to embarrassmentRecommend

  • Hina.

    Lol. A good one girl. I remember when I was in Pakistan, this shop keeper somehow guessed that I’m from abroad somewhere. I bought something and was expecting 5ruppee change but he kept looking at me like I was some sort of weird dummy. I was like ‘Uncle jee apne change nahi diya’ and he smiled with this sarcastic look on his face and said ‘Baaroon aye log ta Pakistaniyaan tu zyada pokhay ney.’ and I was like ‘whaa-t?!’ but I said uncle jee I’d rather take the money and give it to some begger outside instead of letting you rob it off me. And he just looked at me and give me it with so much anger on his face that for a moment I felt like I was robbing him. Lol. We all need to fight for our one ruppee :-DRecommend

  • Miriam

    Thanks all for wonderful comments :)Recommend

  • majid

    totally agree. at the cycle stand at my gym, when I was intended to give 5 rs and he was asking for 10 rs, I had to listen from him “sir g 5 rpay di vi koi auqat aye?”Recommend