Image Credit: Megan Hirons Mahon/Gulf News

Dubai: Gulf News sent out a clarion call to its readers asking them to fight for their right to get the correct change back when shopping.

And they responded in an overwhelming manner. They e-mailed, wrote letters and commented on gulfnews.com.


Most were surprised by the report "Don't leave without your 10 fils", which raised the question: what happens to the small change that most consumers leave without after making a purchase?

Many were not aware that the UAE Central Bank continues to mint the smaller denominations and had not even seen 5 or 10 fils coins in over five years. Many readers wrote in sharing their experiences.

Here's what they had to say to the newspaper:

Diabetic gets sweets for fils
My experience is with a big supermarket near my house, which sometimes does not have 25 fils to return to the consumer. Instead, they pay with a sweet peppermint or chewing gum. I asked them if I could exchange this the next time I shop. They said I couldn’t. So, being a diabetic, I am forced to take this and throw the sweet in the dustbin!
From Mr Frank

A small amount
Last week, I bought Arabic cooked food for Dh11.80 from a shop in Khalidiya mall. I paid Dh20 and got change back of Dh8 only. I didn’t mind that they hadn’t returned the full amount because it was only 20 fils.
From Mr Iyappan Nadar
Abu Dhabi

Didn’t know they existed
Thank you Gulf News for bringing this to my notice. I have always wondered about this practice by shop owners. In the past seven years of living here, I have never even seen 5 or 10 fils coins. I am really surprised to see that they exist!
From Mr Pramod

I am robbed!
The authorities should regulate prices and ensure that they are divisible by 25. And yes, I am always robbed of my fils while shopping.
From Mr Salman

Was not aware
This is the first time that I’ve heard that there are 5 and 10 fils in circulation. I’ve been in Dubai for almost three years now and I thought that the smallest denomination was 25 fils! Anyway, when I go shopping I usually use my debit card, so I am charged exactly. But with small purchases, for which I use cash, I usually take it for granted.
From Mr Langelo

This is overcharging
I have experienced this problem for a long time. I have noticed that whenever I buy from a certain supermarket and if the bill is Dh10.25, if they don’t have change, they charge Dh10. On the other hand, when even my bill was Dh9.70 or Dh9.75, they charged me Dh10 saying they didn’t have change. I don’t like it at all. If they don’t have the change then why are they deducting our money? Instead they should give us 25 fils or more, that is 50 fils because they are the ones short of change. Otherwise they can give some chewing gum or something in lieu of 25 or 50 fils.
From Mr Suhail Meer

No fils returned
I have been living in the UAE for the past five years and I shop a lot of the time in the leading shopping malls, supermarkets and retail shops. But until today I haven’t got back 5, 10 or 15 fils.
From Mr Aliyar Kalifa
Abu Dhabi

Good initiative
Businesses do not engage in a practice that costs them money. I’m glad this issue is being written about and extend my apologies to all those customers behind me in line who have to wait while the clerk finds a 5 or 10 fils coin to give me my exact change.
From Mr Will F.
Al Ain

A unique store
A supermarket in Abu Shagara charges less if the cost is Dh4.35 — they charge Dh4.25. If the cost is Dh10.15, they charge only Dh10.
From Mr Prasad

No idea about 5 and 10 fils
I had no idea that 5 and 10 fils coins are available!
From Mr Mohammad Jahangir

Fooling consumers
It is good that Gulf News has raised this awareness. This is not the first time. Such practices haves been followed for years, fooling the consumers. Now the consumers are really aware of their financial spending since the global economic crisis took place. The concerned authorities must consider the public’s complaint.
From Mr Ben

Donate to charity
I was pleasantly surprised to see a notice at a reputable hypermarket in Dubai Festival City, exhorting customers to advise the cashier when checking out if they wish to donate the small change to a local charity. What a splendid idea.

This suggestion was mooted many years ago by irate customers, who were annoyed that the supermarkets were allowed to retain thousands of dirhams for themselves. It seems that nothing has changed since then. I would, therefore, like to suggest that it be mandatory for all supermarkets and hypermarkets to donate the small change to a designated local charity.
From Mr Ivan Pais

Video: Where's my change?

Doubting the cashiers
It would be interesting for a consumer to know the store policy related to returning change — whether the store would return the more or less exact change. This information should be displayed. Maybe it is a wrongdoing on the part of cashiers, at the end of their duty they need to match the cash collected to the amount billed. All these 5, 10, 15 fils might end up in their pocket. I would not like to have chewing gum instead. Better use debit cards.
From Mr Adnan Amir

Thank you Gulf News
This article was very important because I never asked about the 10 or 5 fils! At times I really was desperate to ask because whatever we pay should be the correct value and also should meet our satisfaction levels! What surprises me is that the banks do issue smaller fils because till date I haven’t seen even one. Thank you Gulf News for reporting this article. I am sure that if we take care of the fils, the dirhams will take care of us.
From Mr Merin

Don’t worry
Even if the prices are figures that are rounded off, you cannot have exact weightage for produce. So, the pricing will be in fractions. No need to worry so much about these fils as the bill will be a total of several items. In a month usually there are a maximum three to four transactions. So, even if you pay cash, chances are you will lose 50 fils to Dh1 and not Dh10.
From Mr John

A good practice
The Union Co-operative chain is doing their best. There have been several occasions when I have received coins lower than 25 fils from the cashier. As I have moved my transactions to credit card, I do not have the latest knowledge on this issue. I still appreciate the practice of the Co-operative, they accept credit card transactions for amounts even lower than Dh10.
From Mr D.R.K.

A matter of perspective
It depends on person to person. I don’t mind if the price is rounded off to the nearest dirham in favour of the shopkeeper. However, if it matters to someone, he has all the right to get tendered the exact amount and cashiers must be trained to behave respectfully with all customers.
From Mr Nirmal
Abu Dhabi

Just a thought
I wonder if these same retailers would round off the prices the other way when you buy something for Dh2.15. Do they charge Dh2 or “round it off” to Dh2.50?
From Mr Zeeshan Ahmad
Toronto, Canada

Debit card
The best way to actually get your change is when you shop with your debit card. They don’t need to round off any value, instead they charge you the exact amount. You will not even have to carry small change all the time.
From Mr Leeju Mathew

Shouted at by a cashier
A store in Abu Dhabi refused to give me back even 20, 15 or 10 fils many times. One day I asked about the exact change and the cashier shouted at me! It’s happening a lot. Supermarket owners are getting millions per year through this. It’s our right to get back our exact change.
From Mr Noufal
Abu Dhabi

Pay back in kind
It is a petty issue. If you receive gum as part of your change, next time pay the cashier back with gum as part of your payment.
From Mr Norman