By Joey Aguilar/Staff Reporter
Supermarkets in Qatar have stepped up efforts to ensure that coins are always available at their counters to provide the exact change to customers.
This comes as a welcome step as consumers are often heard complaining about the shortage of adequate coins at stores and being made to accept candies instead.
An official of a leading supermarket told Gulf Times that banks sometimes do not have enough coins, which prompts them to find other sources. In many cases they would exchange notes for coins with charitable institutions, he explained.
Admitting that they still run out of coins at times, he said they prefer giving more than the exact change in case a particular denomination is not available than offering an item - such as a candy - to a customer.
“Often, if we do not have 25 dirhams, for example, we tell our cashiers to give 50 dirhams instead of small items from the supermarket,” said the official. “We try our best not to get a single complaint from our customers but sometimes they are the ones who ask for items.”
Some customers who spoke to Gulf Times said a number of supermarkets and groceries fail to provide the exact change.
“They will give you the amount if you insist but I prefer not to argue and just take whatever the cashier offers,” said a homemaker.
While some refuse to take items such as candies and small chocolates, others take them without getting into an argument with the cashier.
One customer said he always uses his credit card to pay for his groceries. However, he finds it practical to pay in cash when the amount is below QR50.
An official of another supermarket told Gulf Times that they used to get a lot of complaints from customers years ago as they would often run out of coins.
“What we did is to stock a lot of coins to prevent any shortage,” he said.
Like other supermarkets, the official stressed that they also opt to give more than the exact change rather than offer other items.
He assured customers that disciplinary action would be slapped on any of their staff who insist on offering candies or other items instead of change.
“We try to give our staff enough training to provide quality service to each customer. All our counters have CCTV cameras and we monitor them daily,” he noted.
Some residents believe that one of the reasons for "coin shortage" in the market is because many people often stock coins in their homes and thus coins are not circulated.
One expatriate worker who regularly buys his groceries from a supermarket near his flat admitted that he always puts the coins in a mug.
“Now, two of my mugs are full of coins and I am still thinking of how to use them,” he said. “And it takes a lot of time to go to the bank just to deposit the coins.”
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