No 25 cents: Robinsons customers shortchanged

IF YOU SHOP at Robinsons Ilocos Norte–particularly in its supermarket, department store, and hardware—chances are you have experienced this, too.

Cashiers would round off your change to the nearest peso, most of the time to the benefit of the establishment, because they do not have twenty-five-cent coins.

For example, if your change is P12.45, they will give you only P12.00.  In some verified instances, the change is short, and purposefully, by as much as 70 cents.

Previously, the cashiers would ask, “Sir, ok lang po ba kung kulang ng (the amount)?  Today, though, most of them do not ask anymore, they just hold back the last fraction of your peso, and sans your consent.  They assume that you know about their unwritten policy.  They assume that it is just ok.

But even if the cashier asks, it is still not ok.  At best, the question is rhetorical, for they assume the answer: “Of course it is ok.  It must be ok.  Anyway, it is just 25 cents.”  Moreover, the consumer would feel ashamed to a cause a delay in the cashier’s work, especially when the line is long, and all for 25 cents.

And so this happens every day, to you and me, to everyone else.  Some just let it in stride.  Others remind themselves to be patient.  But patience, dear karikna, can be stretched only to a certain extent.  Even the strongest camel’s back, when overloaded, could break at the drop of the lightest straw.

My mom is usually unsupportive of this column either because I write, most of the time in an unflattering light, about the church she so loves, or because she fears for my safety given the sensitivity of some issues I tackle.  This time, however, I have her two thumbs up, four including her toes, on this article.  “Abusado sila,” my mother, an SSS pensioner, laments.

Uncle Ness, who is based in Bicol, stayed here in Laoag for a few months to supervise the renovation of The Labayog family house, and he complains, too, that it happened to him each time at Handyman, the mall’s hardware store.

Let me share with you my experience during my trip to Robinsons Ilocos Norte Supermarket, Aug. 26.  The total amount of the purchase I made was P256.75.  I handed a 1,000-peso bill to the cashier who then asked me if I had two pesos.  I had none, so the cashier gave me back P743.  After giving me my change, the cashier moved on to the customer next in line.  It seemed like the cashier did not really have intentions of giving the exact change.  She asked for 2 pesos, not 1.75, which was the exact amount she needed to give me 745.

Is it really impossible to provide exact change?  Of course, not.  At SM Malls, they constantly have twenty five, and even ten and five centavo (the one with a hole in the middle) coins. They do round off change to the nearest five cents, but always in favor of the consumer.   If SM can do it, why can’t Robinsons?

I asked the cashiering supervisor, Rosalie Quinajon, about their policy on giving change. Ms. Quinajon, afraid to be quoted by a consumer who happens to be a newspaper columnist, referred me to the assistant manager for cashiering, Irish Rafales, who then referred me again to the manager, Frances Pascual, who was not around they had to call her by phone.  They conferred almost endlessly and made me wait for the answer to two simple questions:  1) Why don’t they have coins twenty five cents and lower in their cash registers?, and 2) What is their policy on giving change in the absence of those coins?

Pascual went in circles, was evasive, and talked about protocols on giving statements to the media.  She said she wasn’t authorized to speak.  I asked her then to simply deal with me as a consumer whose grievance needed to be addressed.  I was, by the way, accompanied by two co-workers who have also had the same experience—Fides Bitanga and Kat Aguilar.  I was so frustrated with the way Pascual was handling my concern that I asked her, rhetorically of course, if I had to call John Gokongwei, patriarch of the conglomerate, for a proper reply.  I was so disappointed that I thought of writing this article’s title, “Dear Mr. Gokongwei.”

Rafales and Quinajon were more helpful and reassuring, charming even.  They were apologetic for the blunder, and thankful to us for raising the issue.  From what I gathered, the supermarket, department store, and hardware do not really have a supply of coins lower than one peso because Robinsons Bank, which takes care of the stores’ currency requirements, don’t have them.  The mall used to deal with another private bank, and so they previously had some of those low-value coins.  Today, with their in-house bank in the picture, the stores have none, nada, awan, wala.

Am I making a big fuss about a few centavos?  Another complainant, who overheard my conversation with the management, put it perfectly, “haan nga mabukel iti piso no awan binting”  (You can’t form a peso without twenty-five cents).

Maybe other establishments are doing the same.  BUT, it is particularly appalling that Robinsons is committing this.  Shortchanging would be easier to ignore if it happens in a sari-sari store or in a small grocery but not in a big mall which has enough resources to deliver quality service.  Through the goods and services they sell, stores already profit from the consumer, why do they need to earn from his/her change as well?

This problem, of course, is not new.  Two years ago, then provincial board member Kris Ablan already sponsored a legislative measure to address this issue through Provincial Ordinance No. 015-2008 requiring business establishments to give exact change to consumers.

The whereas clauses of the ordinance read, “the practice of giving insufficient change or giving  no change at all to consumers by product sellers or service providers is something that is often taken for granted; this is usually because the change involves only a matter of five, ten, fifteen, or twenty-five centavos, or small bills, which when added up at the end of the day, by reason of the power of geometrical progression, amount to thousands of pesos; and the failure to give the change or the exact change constitutes a trade malpractice that must be stopped.”

By a unanimous vote, the Ilocos Norte Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved in 2008 this ordinance which aims to protect the interests of the consumer against deceptive, unfair, and unconscionable sales acts and practices.

Violators of the ordinance shall, upon conviction by a court of proper jurisdiction, be liable of the following penalties: a fine of P250.00 for the first offense; P500.00 for the second offense; P1,000.00 to P2,500.00 for the third offense; and, for the fourth offense, P2,500.00 to P5,000.00, with cancellation of the business permit.

Sadly though, this ordinance, which is in accordance to Republic Act 7394 (the Consumer Act of the Philippines), is poorly implemented by the agency tasked to carry it out–the Department of Trade and Industry provincial office.

Make no mistake.  I still love Robinsons, and I will continue to spend my hard-earned money in its stores.  We thank the owners for investing here in Ilocos, and for giving us local folks a taste of the malling culture.  In fact, in my own sphere of influence, small and lowly as it may be, I will encourage people to gather their coins and have them exchanged at Robinsons.  As of press time, I have so far collected five hundred pesos worth of coins (25, 10, and 5) and will bring them to the mall soon.  No one should complain without wishing to be a part of the solution.

Customers like us, dear karikna, are not really difficult to please.

Businessmen only need to be fare.  They just have to be just.  They just have to be honest.  And, above all, they just have to be pro-customer.

Big things do come in small packages, and sometimes they cost only twenty-five cents.

28 Comments

Filed under Business

28 responses to “No 25 cents: Robinsons customers shortchanged

  1. tita lita

    i demand that they give me the right change.i will stand there even for just a penny short.i dont care if it takes them all day to get it to me…you cannot pay only 99 cent for their merchandise which cost a dollar can you? so what is good for the goose is also good for the gander…a quarter ,dime and nickel ,penny here and there adds up and at the end of the day how many thousands will they rake up? they are already making profits of the merchandise you buy never mind short changing you too?

  2. German N. Labayog

    Like your Mom, I give you two thumbs up. If robinson makes 1,000 customers a day, with 25 centavos not given, P250 goes to Robinson. A simple computation. Here in America, if your change is just a penny, you get the penny. Some banks when they run out of pennies, they make promotions like for every 10 dollar worth of pennies, they give you 11 dollars just to have exact change.

    If it happens there, maybe it also happens to other branches in the entire Philippines. Siguro nangyayari rin sa iba pang businesses ng Gokongwei Corporations. Magkano ang nalilimas nila sa isang araw? sa isang buwan?, sa isang taon?

    I remember when I was working with National Irrigation Administration somewhere in Laguna, our cashier was not giving the extra change. Kinukuha na yong barya or yong Butal. I had to complain to management . I lost a friend but I felt better because it was corrected.

    • skinhead kicker

      that’s a different situation german….i know u have tried eating at any jollibee stores, to tell you…from the smallest amount of cent to the highest peso na “butal” na sinasabi mu…hindi napu2nta sa bulsa ng mga cashier un…nare2mit lahat un! ano silbi ng resibo? yang cnabi mu..that’s an example of pagna2kaw qng kinukuha mu ung sobrang pera for personal sake….sabihin nalang natin na yung mga sobrang sentimo sa kaha ng mga cashier pag magbi2lang na sila ng pera…tulong nalang natin yun sakanila dahil galing din dun ang salaries nila na pinagpaguran naman nila…right?

  3. Byron

    pati kaya sa ibang robinson malls ganun din?

  4. trish

    you write so well, my herdy yumul. thank you for posting this.

  5. trish

    oops, i actually meant: mr herdy yumul. tsk tsk tsk.

  6. Barya-barya lang subalit ‘pag naipon limpak-limpak naman.

    Ito ba ay isang paraan ng pagnanakaw? May pagkakaiba kaya sa pagnanakaw ng beinte- singko sentimos sa beinte-singko milyong piso?

    Ang isang daga ‘pag nagngitngit ng pagkain ay konti-konti lang pero pagdating ng panahon mauubos din ito. Ganito rin kaya ito? 🙂

  7. Del

    What happened to my comments on your previous column?

  8. skinhead kicker

    u know what….you’re so irritating sometimes! have you lost your sixth sense?u have a point but if you have the real concern…dont make any issues that could make innocent people do an unpleasant act that could hurt others.a 25 cents is just a 25 cents!my God! for God’s sake….pairalin mu naman common sense mu!!!!! have you experienced working in a department store? it’s true that u cant form a peso (1peso) without the 25cents..but, it’s 2010! what can u buy with it? be practical sometimes…im not a rich person but i know the procedure coz i have experienced working such kind of job! whether u ask permission to the costumer for the change shortage…everyone is already aware of that procedure. freedom of speech and freedom of the press really SUCKS sometimes if youre dealing with simple things like that… PINAG AAWAY MU BA MGA KAPWA MU PILIPINO?wala kang kwenta kung ganun… yes,u can earn a hundred, a thousand or even a million just from a 25 cents but if they dont really the amount,why insist? that is not “pagiging abusado”…you know the saying “BUSINESS IS BUSINESS”? it’s a big company..yes it is but what if…the banks have no cents to provide them? JUST SOME COMMON SENSE SOMETIMES and AWARENESS…think of more relevant topics than making others like demons and you’re the angel!
    PEACE……………………………………………………………

    • Your IP address (122.52.101.50) reveals where you are from. This is not the first time you left comments in my blog, although you use different names.

      Your IQ seems to be higher than Einstein’s, but I do not need your tasteless display here. Thank you for your thoughts though.

  9. bots

    Hi Herdy,

    malaking kalokohan yan!

    these “bintings” and centavos when accumulated usually goes into the pockets of the cashiers. at the end of their shifts, they have to submit their cash reports which should equal to the tapes from their cash register to their supervisors. why would they remit extra when they can submit exact amounts? who wanted to declare a cash shortage or overage when it will suggest inefficiency?

    in SM, they give exact change, no matter how small because they are required to, because any discrepancy in their report, shortage or overage will be investigated . . . . . . .

  10. guiengarma

    Just went to the mall last Wednesday. Same case. We were shortchanged by 25 cents. However, when I went to Robinsons Supermarket in Los Banos, the cashier would say, “May [certain amount] po ba kayo para [another amount] na lang ang sukli?” Then it would of course be reflected in the receipt.

    The thing is it’s not just Robinsons that does this. A certain pharmacy here in Batac does that too.

  11. German N. Labayog

    Skin head, pati yata utak mo, parang skin lang. What Herdy writes is always an awakening. Take Robinson, I never said that it goes to the cashier, it goes to the company. Buti sana kung may na kapaskel na, your 25 cents or more goes to the poor. Mas marami pa sana akong ibibigay. Skinhead, come out in the open . Ang nagtatago sa pangalan at nag aatake ng iba ay karuwagan. Peace din.

  12. Pingback: What happened after? « Riknakem

  13. Trixie

    I strongly agree that strict implementation of the said law should be enforced on violators. I am in the same position as yours po. Cherry Foodarama Antipolo naman – I’ve been buying from that branch for years and they have always shortchanged me – dati 5 cents ngayon more than 55 cents na. I have filed a complaint with their customer service and they would just laugh at you thinking na para yun lang and they have promised to report this to upper management but dang its been years and the same issue pa din over and over again!!! mind you when you complain atrasan mga supervisor nila deadma!!! – the cashiers when you ask them if them how much your change was – sasagot pa sila – sila pa matapang – then if you complain kung bakit kulang that is the only time that they will give you the exact change – what if tayo magbayad ng kulang papayag ba sila???? if they can’t give you the exact sukli then at least inform man lang and ang kaso deadma talaga sila or wag sila maglagay ng butal para walang issue.

    This attention of the agency who can investigate on this should help us consumers on this… tama walang piso kung wala mga barya…

  14. Gokongwei company are the worst ive know like DigiHell telecomm.

  15. Miro Enriquez

    I hope dumami ang katulad mong pinoy. Nagrereklamo pero kasali sa solusyon. Unlike those rallyista here in manila who keeps on marching but just throw garbage and bad words.

  16. trixie

    cherry foodarama antipolo should definitely be subject for visit by dti. yesterday i was not only shortchanged but i was insulted by the cashier as well. upon asking for the kulang in my sukli the response was “piso okay na sayo?” once again customer service and i am 100% sure no action was taken after that!

  17. Ma. Cherry Joaquin Salem

    dapat wag na lang sila maglagay ng butal sa presyo ng paninda nila para wala din butal ang sukli.

  18. Eugene

    Naloko a wagas tapno mapapintas dagiti pakdaar finansial (financial statements) nangruna ti tignay ti kuarta (cash flow). No adda butal gagangay a ti kaasitgan a nangatngato a bilang ti bayadan ti kustomer. Bassit met laeng a sentimos ngem no maurnong ket dakkel met a pakabuklan.

  19. gaaw

    anu ba ang sulusyon sa ganitong problema?

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