Many ‘Naughty’ Indonesian Retailers Still Make Change in Candy

By webadmin on 10:51 pm Sep 12, 2010
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Irvan Tisnabudi

Jakarta. Despite a formal agreement, many modern retail stores — the “naughty” ones, some say — are still giving their customers small change in the form of candy, instead of the coins that tend to pile up in jars or on countertops, according to the Indonesian Consumer Protection Foundation.

The group, also known as the YLKI, said that based on its research, which included complaints to its office and field surveys, about 10 percent of modern retailers still slipped their customers candy in lieu of small coins. That’s despite an agreement in July between the Association of Indonesian Retailers, Bank Indonesia and the Trade Ministry.

Under the agreement, all retailers must offer customers exact change. Prior to the agreement, an estimated 30 percent of retailers had not been doing so.

“But even though there has been a decrease of 20 percent in the number of these ‘naughty’ retailers, some are still getting away with not giving consumers what they fully deserve,” Sulasri added. “Candies are a one-sided method, as consumers can’t re-use them for payment.”

The Trade Ministry has been cracking down on the retailers, threatening to revoke the licenses of non-compliant outlets that don’t shape up after a first warning, said Radu Sembiring, director general of consumer protection at the ministry.

“Why is this problem still occurring? I think it’s because there are just too many retailers in the country and people don’t have the initiative to complain if they are given candies as change,” Radu said, adding that the ministry had yet to revoke any business permits.

Sulasri said stores that dispensed candy had no excuses, least of all that they simply didn’t have enough small change, a sentiment echoed by Difi Johansyah, the head of BI’s public relations bureau.

“BI, through local banks, is able to fulfill the small change needs of retailers, so there’s absolutely no reason for these retailers to still be giving out candies,” Difi said. “But still, the initiative needs to come from the retailers themselves.”

But according to Tutum Rahanta, chairman of the Indonesian Retail Merchants Association (Aprindo), it’s not that easy.

“The majority of local banks charge an additional 1 to 1.5 percent for small change, so it adds to our burden,” he said.

Aprindo members have targeted gross sales at Rp 100 trillion ($11.1 billion) this year, up from about Rp 80 trillion last year.

“This means a total funding of about Rp 1 trillion is needed for the year to supply small change,” Tutum added.

Tutum advised consumers to pay for products in exact amounts to avoid being given candies instead of proper change.