Quite a few customers at a Dubai supermarket have been forced to accept chewing gum in lieu of coins. Image Credit: Javed Nawab/Gulf News

Dubai: In most countries chewing gum can get you in trouble — you could end up paying a fine. But a leading supermarket in Dubai is forcing gum down customers' throats.

Anyone who goes shopping to this particular supermarket and does not have 25 fils change walks out with a packet of gum instead.

Cashiers at a supermarket in Al Twar have been giving Haitai gum for not tendering exact change.

Take the case of Mohammad Shah. He bought a packet of low-fat milk for Dh14.75 and some yoghurt for Dh5.45. His total bill came to Dh20.20. Since he did not have 25 fils he gave the cashier Dh25 only to get back Dh4.50 and a packet of chewing gum.

"I have lost nearly 30 fils on this purchase," he said.

As reported earlier by Gulf News at least Dh50 million-Dh100 million is lost annually in transactions after purchases.

Goods are often sold at odd prices such as Dh9.95, and rarely does anyone demand the 5 fils back. A Central Bank official stresses there is no shortage of coins as it mints even 1, 5 and 10 fils coins.

Special Report: Don't leave without your 10 fils

Another regular customer at this supermarket who sends his son to the supermarket to make purchases, as he lives close to the store, has found his son returning from the store with chewing gum.

"I am very particular that he does not eat too much sweet and hence we have a restriction on chocolates and chewing gum, but he ends up getting chewing gum every day," he said.

Most customers would not like ending up with 25 fils to pay on their bill. When a cashier was asked about the practice of handing out chewing gum, she said: "We have instructions to make sure that instead of 25 fils, chewing gum should be given to the customer."

If you are not mathematically brilliant you could even end up losing 40 fils as the supermarket staff force the chewing gum on you.

"I have opted for another supermarket not wanting to lose 25 fils every day," said Abraham Joseph, who lives close to the supermarket, though he has to cross the road to reach the other supermarket.

Dr Hashim Al Nuaimi, director of the Consumer Protection Department at the UAE Ministry of Economy, in an earlier statement, had urged consumers to play a proactive role to stop the growing practice of ignoring coins of smaller denominations.

"It is an illegal practice and the money that is collected every day in this way, which is worth thousands, is also illicit," he said.

Consumers who are not given exact change have been asked to contact the ministry on toll free number 600522225 to register their complaints.