So before I start rambling on, let me assure you, I’m not against change – to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone. And this post is about the other kind of change – the balance of money given or received when the amount tendered is larger than the amount due. And to be more precise, I’m talking about when change can be avoided. Still following me on what change I’m talking about? Bueno! Vamos!
I have the distinct pleasure of living in Gurgaon, a colourful and vibrant satellite city of New Delhi (for those unaware, this definition stinks of sarcasm), and very close to the Gurgaon – New Delhi expressway. Every time I prepare to embark on my cross border journey to India’s capital, I keep the toll of 21 rupees in hand because by the time you get to the toll booth, one is literally searching all over for the exact amount. My question is, why 21? Why? Why? Why? Which genius said ‘let’s charge these suckers 21 rupees and make them suffer’!
Let’s think about this for a moment. Why didn’t they just round it off to 20 or 30? Wouldn’t it do us all a favour and make the process faster? I usually have 20 rupees in my wallet or currency bills in multiples of 10. I don’t like keeping coins and especially 1 rupee coins because let’s face it, they are worthless these days! So if I don’t have the exact amount, I get back a whole bunch of change. Then I ponder over how much time and effort do the toll booth attendants spend in keeping change ready for all sorts of currency denominations and let’s face it, they come in multiples of ten and not 21. So just round it off and avoid the hassle and extra work required to always keep 9 frikking rupees!
It’s happened to me before, the toll booth didn’t have 9 rupees in change and I was short changed! So to avoid abuses and horns blaring at me, I had to accept my fate and drive on a cheated man. Then I started wondering if this could be the start of the biggest scam in India. 160,000 cars pass the toll every day (maybe more now). Short change 10% of them by say, 4 rupees…that’s 1.9 million rupees a month. Tollgate scam coming right up!
Anyway, let’s move on. So last Saturday, I’m taking the Metro back to Gurgaon after spending a delightful afternoon in Delhi. I walk in, buy the ticket…19 rupees. I mean come on, seriously?! Did you Delhi Metro guys scheme this with the expressway guys? And then the guy behind the counter tells me he has no change, but if I give him 5 rupees, he can return me 4. What he wanted to say was that he didn’t have a 1 rupee coin. Why? Because they’re worthless! So I told him to keep the change and walked off.
This is so avoidable. I know I keep saying a 1 rupee coin is worthless, but if I add them up, I don’t know how much money I’ve lost because I’ve been short changed! Maybe millions if not billions! All you geniuses who make assumptions, design business models and do a break-even analysis, if your Excel sheet gives you a number like 18.276, do us all a big favour and round it off to 20.