I HAVE always had problems with sales girls at the supermarket over the issuance of change or what we call in our local parlance, 'balance'. Don't think I'm 'Armstrong' or 'thrifty' but it has always been a matter of principle.
I went to a mart to do some 'shiabii' kind of shopping and at the counter I noticed that the salesgirl was adding some candies to my items. “Eh, are they for free so that I could always come here to shop?” was my innocuous question. But the salesgirl replied, “Oh because I don't have change, I decided to add these candies to make for the change”.
I went mad; I mean the adrenalin in my veins shot up to the point where the pigmentation on my face turned some weird colour. My anger was beyond imagination. “Can I pleaaaaseee have my change?”
I asked, but she tried to explain to me she didn't have change. I told her if she did not have the change, she did not have the right to impose anything on me that I was not prepared to buy.
And since I have not planned to buy candies, I don't need them. I told her it was her duty to get change for me at all cost and that courtesy demands that I needed to be told what my change would be used for.
We have, on many occasions, encountered problems with the issuance of change in our daily transactions.
At any point in time, when I transact business with salesgirls and other people including iced water sellers, I make sure I take my change. In fact, when it comes to change, I don't compromise my insistence that the right thing ought to be done.
People just assume that any change left should be given out as a tip. I really don't have a problem giving out a tip to a nice lady who might have served at a restaurant, supermarket or any other place and had displayed very good manners.
I may not be okay with the quality of service in terms of food or the kind of service I'm paying for, but the attitude of the person serving you could be so charming that you would be 'forced' to tip her for being nice.
On the other hand, some of the ladies who have been employed to render services to their customers are a sheer apology of what they are being paid to do. Such people do not merit my tip.
Some of the salesgirls would not tell you anything. If you bought items worth GH¢29.50p and you gave the lady GH¢30 and you expected to be given GH50p, the lady would parcel your items for you and then stand there like an Egyptian Mummy, without telling you anything. If you do not check, you go away leaving your change behind.
But if you check, you will find out that you were entitled to a change and if you demanded it, then the lady would tell you, “I'm sorry I don't have change”.
When Ghana went in for the new Ghana cedi aka “Kufuor dollar”, the size of the wads in our pockets reduced to pulp.
The Bank of Ghana assured Ghanaians that there were enough coins in the system for business transaction which would not create inconvenience, especially with the smaller denominations. Unfortunately, the brown or whatever colour we call it - coins - have been abandoned by the public.
If you went out to buy 'pure water' with five pieces of the coins, the 'pure' water seller would reject those coins outright. There were some reports in the media that those brownish coins have become 'non' legal tender and had been thrown into the gutters.
The Bank of Ghana came out to deny it, saying they were still in circulation. Today, as I write this piece, you hardly find those coins, let alone being used as legal tender.
Having done that we begin to complain that there are not enough coins in circulation and therefore salesgirls and those who do business with change end up 'seizing' our coins. For my coins or change, 'Walahi' if you joke with it, trouble!
There is currently an advert being run in the media, urging the public to have enough coins for easy transaction. I'm still finding it difficult trying to identify the sponsors of the advert. I don't have any qualms about it because I think it is a great ad but it lacks some authority.
I should think that it is important that such a national exercise ought to be given bigger platform to reach out to the people.
But come to think of it, I think the salesgirls, 'pure' water sellers and others are just being mischievous. Ghanaians are noted for their smartness. But this kind of smartness is, for me, cheap stealing. Yes, 'white collar' stealing is what we are experiencing.
A lady who sells popcorn at Shoprite at the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange is always playing smart on her customers.
She deliberately refuses to go for enough coins for change, thinking that those who visit the shopping mall are all 'bungalowbii' and for that matter they have enough to eat and do not care about what they 'throw' away.
She is supposed to be selling the popcorn at GH25p but anyone who buys and is entitled to a five pesewa change is told by the lady that she does not have that change.
Just make a mental calculation of the number of people who throng the place and the number of people who enjoy popcorn but are 'denied' their five pesewa change. The amount she gets in a day is really 'big Oooo'.
I think we need to rise up to the occasion and demand that the right is done. It is not that there are not enough coins in circulation, but the 'magicians' that we are as a people, we have adopted and continue to adopt all manner of 'juju' and 'tricks' to 'confiscate' people's change. If we all begin to ask for our change and insist that the right thing is done, we shall be contributing to stopping people who cunningly keep our change.