Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Do you have change?"

One of the most frustrating aspects of engaging in any kind of monetary transaction in Ghana has to do with a disconnect between the amount you are charged as a customer, the amount of money you handover, and the change you expect to get - if you did not provide the exact amount in payment.  

It has always been the case that those selling on a table, or in a very small shop, might not have the exact change for you, but I often find that these are the very people who will ask you to wait while they go and make sure that you are given what is due to you.

Try a slightly bigger shop, or even a big supermarket, and I have several examples, and then the real palaver begins.  If you are lucky you will be asked "Do you have one cedi, and then I can give you five?"  At other times you will be told a price which is rounded up, so that the shop or the assistant will not be obliged to give  you some one Ghana pesewa coins which of course they do not have!  And sometimes you will just be told, "Sorry, no change" with the implication being that you just take whatever there is, and forget about the rest!   

On more than one occasion I have asked shop assistants whether they are not given "floats" at the beginning of the day, or even at regular intervals.   Responses can vary:  a blank stare is one, another is "it is finished", so the buyer is left annoyed and frustrated.

One of my responses, simply because I know the above is going to happen, whether at ShopRite, Game, Sarlinesta or whatever, is to be prepared!  So instead of always relying on the more convenient ATM machines, I try to find time to go physically to a bank, and ask for a packet of 100 one Ghana cedi notes.  Plus coins - in  50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 pesewa denominations. 

Well, usually I manage to get the one Ghana cedi notes - though on my last visit to my main branch of one of the older banks, I was told there were no "ones" and when I complained, I was told that the currency was given to them by the Bank of Ghana so I should just take whatever there was.

Another, older bank is usually OK for whatever notes you want, plus coins, and they even manage to stock one Ghana pesewas which are almost a rarity these days. And for a while one of the newer "Nigerian" banks would even provide me with a packet of brand new notes :-).

Not too surprisingly my purse/wallet seems to get heavier as I try to anticipate my needs for change during my work and shopping days!

But for shops and banks and the Bank of Ghana:  have any of you heard of customer needs and wants?

No comments: