Dubai: If you have often wondered how much money you are losing because of incorrect change, research shows that UAE residents lose a total of Dh25 million a year.
While it is a rare occasion to see 10 fils, five fils or one fils coins when making a purchase, many consumers don’t get their exact change back. The lack of 10 and five fils coins going around often leads cashiers to ignore any change value below 25 fils — contributing to the consumer’s long-term loss.
Finance research carried out by Consultancy Euromonitor International showed that millions of dirhams were lost in 2015 due to receiving incorrect change in the UAE alone.
“Combining fully researched and estimated data, we come to the estimate of Dh25 million lost annually due to not receiving correct change. This is three dirhams per person a year, on average,” said Nikola Kosutic, research manager at Euromonitor.
Many grocery items are priced at Dh_.99 fils or Dh_.85 fils and are then rounded up when the payment is made. In many cases, because exact change isn’t available, the customer will not receive any change. In some cases, customers may receive more change than needed.
A previous US study analysed how consumers perceived prices ending in .00 and .99- showing that the small decrease in price was more appealing to most people.
Meanwhile, the Euromonitor finance research showed that there were 2.513 billion cash transactions in UAE with the total value of Dh55.121 billion in 2015. “Around five per cent of transactions were rounded up, with an average rounded up value of 20 fils,” said Kosutic.
This means in around 125.650 million transaction, an average of 20 fils change was not returned to the consumer.
The numbers take into account the possibility of receiving an extra five, 10, 15, and 20 fils at times, and not receiving the correct change in others — resulting in an average of 20 fils of unreturned change.
Gulf News carried out a campaign called ‘Every Fils Counts’ in 2011, where they investigated the issue of incorrect change by asking residents to send in their receipts along with the change amount they received.
Many residents were quick to share their experiences of receiving incorrect change as a result of most cashiers rounding up their total bill amount due to the lack of 10 fils and five fils coins.
As a part of the campaign, Gulf News also talked to the UAE Central Bank about the lack of 10, five, and one fils coins, and it said it was not aware there was a shortage in the market.
Five years later
Five years after the campaign, the issue of receiving incorrect change is ongoing.
Samer Mohammad, 29, from Jordan, said he often wonders how much money he is losing every time he pays his bill at the grocery store and is not given his 10-15 fils back.
“Incorrect change is one of the things that is very common in the UAE because we don’t have smaller coins than 25 fils,” he said.
Mohammad pointed out that while most people are indifferent about small change, they are still losing money, which adds up to a significant amount at the end of the year.
Another Dubai resident, Sarah Khalid Mousa, from Kuwait, said the issue should be looked at by banks and the authorities in the UAE. “This problem can’t go on because it affects everyone is the UAE and, at the end of the day, it’s the people who are losing out on their right to correct change. For those who spend more, the total amount of money they lose will be higher,” she explained.