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The Dangers of Accepting Candy from Strangers

Head of Bali's Retail Association Explains Why Many Shops are Compelled to Make Change in Candy.

(12/7/2009) Those of us cautioned from an early age to never accept candy from strangers, might be shocked and a little dismayed when shopkeepers in Bali make up for a lack of adequate change by adding a handful of wrapped candies when making change at the cash register. One disgruntled foreign visitors half-jokingly threatened a shop keeper that he would contact Bank Indonesia to obtain the current "official" exchange rate between Rp. 1,000 and a popular candy mint.

This common complaint and a recent regulation outlawing "candy change" has prompted the Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Retailers Bali (Aprindo-Bali), Ir. Gede Agus Hardiawan, to say he wholeheartedly supports regulations outlawing "candy change."

Hardiawan, more commonly known as "Gede Hardy," is the owner of the prominent Hardy chain of supermarkets in Bali.

Gede Hardy told the Bali Post that all his fellow members of APRINDO-Bali dislike the "candy change" phenomenon and the dissatisfaction this practice creates among their customers. However, he went on to explain that, "retailers are not handing out candy instead of change on purpose, but because of the lack of small coins and small denomination bills in circulation."

Local banks either have no or little supply of coins and bills with nominal values of Rp. 50, Rp. 100, Rp. 200, Rp. 500 and Rp. 1,000 - leaving retailers with little choice but to cover shortfalls in customer's change with an equivalent value in candy.

In the same meeting with the press, Gede Hardy assured Bali consumers that, unlike last year, adequate supplied of imported food and liquor items are on hand to meet peek demand over the holiday period. He also reported that, on the average, Bali retailed have seen their sales increase 10-15% in 2009. His members are projecting retail sales receipts to increase by 20% in 2010 as the buying power of their customer base continues to increase.