Consumer beware: Shops don’t deal with coins:Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH – Consumers have complained about frequently finding cashiers not returning exact change upon payment since the value-added tax (VAT) was implemented earlier this month.

Citizens took to Twitter to claim it “unfair” while others shared tips on social media on how to avoid scams.

Some sellers said they have been rounding up the total amount in receipts because their cashier registers don’t carry coins.

Rayan from Jeddah describes an incident where he paid for a meal at a restaurant and was supposed to receive an amount of SR30.05 but received only SR30 in cash because a 5-halala coin was not available.

Similar situations circulated on social media complaining about not receiving a different amount than what is printed on the receipt.

“Some stores are not returning the exact change on the receipt because their excuse is not carrying coins. For this reason, it’s advisable to pay by debit or credit card rather than cash,” says Dr. Mohammed Alomairy who encountered several situations.

He told Saudi Gazette, “There are also stores that refrain from using amounts less than 1 riyal so they have increased the price of the product itself by 20 percent. For example, in one of the cafes, a cup of coffee that used to cost SR10 now costs SR10.76 so that when the VAT is added, the total amount is SR11. There are several shops that have pulled this off to avoid dealing with change.”

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Less than two weeks since the VAT was implemented, the Ministry of Commerce and Investment said it charged 910 violating stores in an inspection routine targeting 14,396 stores. If a shop is fined recurrently, it is subject to closing down.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) announced in a press statement this week that it received a surge in demand for coins especially 5 and 10 halalas as a result of VAT implementation.

Although a significant amount of stores do not use coins yet, SAMA said it expects “the flow and exchange of coins to quickly pick up as more people start using them”.

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“All coin denominations are available in all branches of SAMA in the Kingdom in addition to commercial banks,” the statement said. “In the case of not finding coins, the consumer is invited to file a complaint with SAMA by contacting the customer service or calling the hotline 800-125-6666.”

Spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce and Investment Abdulrahman Al-Hussein says the ministry’s awareness campaigns called “Know Your Right” and “Take the Change” aim to inform consumers to insist on receiving their change as many have complained about receiving complimentary packets of napkins or gum instead of change.

Responding to Saudi Gazette, the ministry stated that stores are subject to penalties for not returning exact change to buyers as it is a customer right.

In the recent period, the ministry has worked with SAMA to offer coins in commercial banks, according to the statement.

The ministry said it has an app and hotline number 1900 for consumers to report such incidents.

Source Credit: Saudi Gazette

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