Why dont Indos give back change?

Tex Avery

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Not sure if they cant count or they're trying to rip me off. But it's usually at family mart or indomaret or my laundromat and so on. Always skimming and then shrugging shoulders when I mention it.

If it were once or twice then maybe. But it happens quite a bit and I have to stand firm before they back my change.

Anyone else experience that?
 

gemima

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It's never happened to me in a store, I have had the opposite occur a few times when the cashier has given me too much change back. In Jakarta I overwhelmingly use a card so it makes it simple.
Occasionally I have had it happen in taxis but not lately (mainly its only been an issue for me in Bali), I even had a bluebird driver offer to take less than the fair rate this morning because he didn't have any change (of course I didn't take him up on his offer - life is a real struggle for so many here lately).
 

Lee Bale

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Not sure if they cant count or they're trying to rip me off. But it's usually at family mart or indomaret or my laundromat and so on. Always skimming and then shrugging shoulders when I mention it.

If it were once or twice then maybe. But it happens quite a bit and I have to stand firm before they back my change.

Anyone else experience that?

Hi Tex,

I'm not going to try and begin to explain the multitude of possibilities that could have led to each experience of this phenomenon. I'll just try to suggest a couple of strategies to help you avoid this. Try using cashless systems of handling small amounts of money (e.g. OVO, ShopeePay, GrabPay, Dana etc.) lots of stalls and shops accept these forms of payment. I get by with OVO. Then, it is also good to use your card so that specific amounts of money are taken precisely from your account and there is no need to handle money in most cases.

From a mindset perspective, we are in a culture where "face" is massively important. Social situations depend on calm interactions, so try not to confront directly. Ask if they have change ("ada kembalian, ya kak/bu/pak?"), before even reaching into your wallet. That primes them to expect that you will require change from the transaction. Overall, I would just avoid grouping people (i.e. using the term "Indos"). I know that it is easy to do and not meant to offend anyone, but doing so defaults to an 'us' and 'them' mentality, and that isn't necessary when buying a chocolate bar from Indomaret.

I think that it is also common for people to let small amounts of money under Rp. 1000 go. Another thing to be aware of is that banks won't take responsibility for money that is spent on your card if it becomes lost or stolen. I tend to have three accounts to resolve this. One for savings and transactions across borders. Another to receive my salary and one to conduct small transactions. This way, two bank cards are stored in a safe place at home. If my wallet is lost or stolen, I will only lose a small amount of money.

So, between cashless payments using my phone and my card, I tend to not experience these issues with cash payments. I also purchase lots of goods online with Tokopedia. They have 'bebas/gratis ongkir' on a lot of items if you purchase multiple versions and the transaction is worth more than Rp. 50,000.

All that aside, I'd just recommend letting very small amounts of money go (e.g. less than 1,000 RP) or just refraining from entering into the transaction in a peaceful and non-confrontational way. Times are extremely hard for people at the moment and an empty belly can prompt people to try it on. So, rather than worrying about how/why other people do things, just try to control what you can do about it.

Hope that helps,

Lee
 
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harryopal

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Hi Tex,

....... Overall, I would just avoid grouping people (i.e. using the term "Indos"). I know that it is easy to do and not meant to offend anyone, but doing so defaults to an 'us' and 'them' mentality, and that isn't necessary when buying a chocolate bar from Indomaret.
Well said.
As for the overall proposition of change not being given, I can't say that has been a general experience.
 

Dpquinn

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The first problem is the currency. They need to chop 3 zeroes off to even make it possible to always give correct change. It isn’t easy to have every combination of coins available. Indomarets and similar used to give sweets in lieu of correct change – haven’t encountered that for a while!

The saving face thing is indeed relevant here. Sadly, lying or cheating seems not to be be seen as much of an issue, so long as you don't get caught! A smiling dishonesty. And then playing the victim if/when they do get caught. They are sorry to have been caught more than sorry to have been ripping you off. How sad is that? All surface and no depth. It's like playing a computer game. The prayer hands icon on WhatsApp as an excuse for any number of moral shortcomings. Use the prayer icon to get out of jail free! An indictment of the education system. ‘Maaf, ya.’

It depends what mood you are in, too. You can laugh off a scam or short-changing event once a day perhaps. But if you are on the road and it happens multiple times it can become tiresome. Some days are great and others you meet a whole cluster, certainly more common this year as people get desperate. I was traveling around Central Java last weekend and at nearly every possible juncture there was low-level harassment, a new scam or a ‘higher price for foreigner’. It started with a Gocar that was supposed to be large enough for a group of us and turned out not only to be a regular size but not even the registered vehicle on the app. The latter issue is very common – maybe one in 3 times in my experience. ‘Lagi di servis’. Yeah, right! Good luck getting help from Gojek if you end up in an accident.

A bus ticketing guy at the weekend took ages to think of the price when I asked him that simple question, almost as if he had never sold a ticket in his life before! More likely he was trying to calculate how much over the normal price he could charge a foreigner, but one that could speak Indonesian. His quote probably would have been lower had I been able to speak Javanese. But all this stuff sorely needs regulating!

Yes, life is hard for many at present, and this is true around the world. If you want to give a tip, great, but when a ‘tip’ from a foreigner is expected in almost every transaction, it grates. I remember a friend of mine booking a hiking guide who turned out just to be a middle-man taking a cut before passing him on to the real guide, and this middle-man demanded a personal tip before the hike even started! No moral compass whatsoever.

And the ‘us and them’ mentality is far more prevalent in the opposite direction, being institutionalized – entry tickets to many National Parks costing 30 times (!) the local price even for those who live, work and pay taxes here. Rp5,000 versus Rp150,000 per day. Imagine the price difference for a week-long trek, just in entry tickets alone. That leaves a bad taste in the mouth and encourages stereotyping of foreigners across the board as all being filthy rich, conveniently ignoring the large number of genuinely loaded Indonesians and the large number of low-income foreigners that do visit this part of the world in normal times after saving up for months and months. I sometimes try to joke that I am indeed WNI – Warga Negara Inggris!

I think you have to stand firm for correct change in your local area, otherwise you will be seen as an easy target and your ‘tip’ will become the ‘new normal, at least for you’! I wanted to pay extra for a penjahit who fixed my bag in my friend’s neighbourhood, but my friend wouldn’t let me because then the price would go up for him and his (then struggling) family for all future jobs. Sad that a tip can’t just be taken as a tip but rather as an excuse for a permanent price increase. Funny how trying to be nice to someone can have the unintended consequence of making life harder for others!
 

Lee Bale

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And the ‘us and them’ mentality is far more prevalent in the opposite direction, being institutionalized – entry tickets to many National Parks costing 30 times (!) the local price even for those who live, work and pay taxes here. Rp5,000 versus Rp150,000 per day. Imagine the price difference for a week-long trek, just in entry tickets alone. That leaves a bad taste in the mouth and encourages stereotyping of foreigners across the board as all being filthy rich, conveniently ignoring the large number of genuinely loaded Indonesians and the large number of low-income foreigners that do visit this part of the world in normal times after saving up for months and months. I sometimes try to joke that I am indeed WNI – Warga Negara Inggris!

I think you have to stand firm for correct change in your local area, otherwise you will be seen as an easy target and your ‘tip’ will become the ‘new normal, at least for you’! I wanted to pay extra for a penjahit who fixed my bag in my friend’s neighbourhood, but my friend wouldn’t let me because then the price would go up for him and his (then struggling) family for all future jobs. Sad that a tip can’t just be taken as a tip but rather as an excuse for a permanent price increase. Funny how trying to be nice to someone can have the unintended consequence of making life harder for others!

My point about the 'us' and 'them' thing isn't a denial that it can happen. It is to try to limit its affect on you. If you walk around getting irritable about these things on a daily basis, when living in Indonesia then you are going to have a torrid time. The only thing we can really control is how we respond to these phenomena. Getting upset about it on every occasion isn't very productive and won't change anything. Expressing disappointment is fine but we do need to come to terms with things. In the grand scheme of socio-economic problems here, more attention is probably needed elsewhere.

Your point about 'local areas' could be a good one. I live in Jakarta, so the strategies I suggested work really well for me. Generally, they have been fine when I have been to Bali, Lombok and Sumatra as well in recent years on pre-pandemic holidays anyway. Standing firm doesn't mean having to act confrontational. Accepting responsibility is tough for some people in these situations, for sure. However, taking preventative measures as previously suggested might help to change things. I'm sure lots of sellers would rather have repeat custom than no custom at all. Politely explain this to them, or take your business elsewhere. You can't control how they behave but you might be able to influence it by taking such measures. Getting in a tizzy and subscribing to the 'us' versus 'them' dichotomy isn't going to work in your favor and will just reinforce previous negative experience. For me, this would not be a desirable mindset to reside in.

Cheers,

Lee
 
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Dpquinn

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Everyone has their own threshold for these incidents and that depends on lots of factors including your mood at the time and how many similar instances you have encountered that day or week or whatever. If you are looking for instances to reinforce, as you say, in a positive or negative direction then you will surely find them. It really can be a case of 'smile and the world (Indonesia) smiles back at you'.

It's also true you can spend time explaining the logic behind fair prices and repeat custom and so on, depending on if you are likely to meet these folk again. But, honestly, who wants to live surrounded by people who are regularly trying to overcharge based on skin colour / perceived wealth or not provide quite what they promised to the extent that you have to always be on your guard or spend ages repeatedly re-confirming things and explaining (or rather hinting in a roundabout way) why it is in their interests to give the correct change or actually provide the service they originally promised for the agreed price in the agreed time-frame? It's tiresome.

The number of stories I have heard about maids/helpers who steal from their employers but are then kept on is unbelievable here. Mind-boggling. But if you are rich enough that it makes no difference to lose items of jewellery now and again and you don't really care then fair enough, I suppose. Many expats can live in a realm above all these 'transactions' to the extent that they are barely living in Indonesia at all. Each to their own. I need a break from it once every 18 months, in order to appreciate its wonders again, so maybe my threshold is lower than usual because I haven't been to the UK for quite a long time now and my weekend experiences made me think 'I'd much rather be walking in the Scottish Highlands'.

It's certainly an easy country to be taken for a ride if you are not very careful indeed, so I do feel for the original poster, even if the sums are tiny. If you let the little scams go then it can be a slippery slope to acceptance of bigger scams under the guise of 'this culture is different so I have to accept xyz with a smile on my face'. If it were just the really poor trying to feed their families it would be completely 100% understandable but as most members of this forum know, the short-changing or rule-bending/breaking is found across all levels of society, and perhaps more common higher up!
 

harryopal

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"........ If it were just the really poor trying to feed their families it would be completely 100% understandable but as most members of this forum know, the short-changing or rule-bending/breaking is found across all levels of society, and perhaps more common higher up!......"
A good examples of the latter are Australian banks and a host of major companies. A Royal Commission into banking found a whole range of crooked practices in the banking sector with clients charged for services not provided and accounts of deceased clients continuing to be charged a range of various fees. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.

In the last year or so there has been a series of major retail chains underpaying staff with individual company amounts often running into the tens of millions. And again, regarding banks, transferring funds for clients with exchange rates at viciously low levels.

Then there is the superannuation industry with many companies charging excessive fees for underperforming investments. The amounts involved running into many many millions of dollars.

Not to mention adulterated foods, false advertising and all kinds of wonderfully inventive means of relieving us of our dollars.

Discouraging and all as that may be, a redeeming feature of life on this planet has often been the simple kindness and generosity I have been shown as a stranger by ordinary and often poor people
 

Lee Bale

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Everyone has their own threshold for these incidents and that depends on lots of factors including your mood at the time and how many similar instances you have encountered that day or week or whatever. If you are looking for instances to reinforce, as you say, in a positive or negative direction then you will surely find them. It really can be a case of 'smile and the world (Indonesia) smiles back at you'.

Okay... your likelihood of getting in a mood can be reduced by accepting the situations that you are regularly faced with and acting accordingly (i.e. adopting strategies that facilitate better outcomes).

It's also true you can spend time explaining the logic behind fair prices and repeat custom and so on, depending on if you are likely to meet these folk again. But, honestly, who wants to live surrounded by people who are regularly trying to overcharge based on skin colour / perceived wealth or not provide quite what they promised to the extent that you have to always be on your guard or spend ages repeatedly re-confirming things and explaining (or rather hinting in a roundabout way) why it is in their interests to give the correct change or actually provide the service they originally promised for the agreed price in the agreed time-frame? It's tiresome.

I want to live here. So I do my best to adopt relevant strategies that allow me to operate as best I can. Sometimes, I get pissed off. However, I don't expect locals to conform to my expectations of how things should be done because I'm a guest here and I don't think this approach will produce the desired outcomes. No need to repeatedly explain logic, just say "oke deh, gak usah ya pak/kak/bu terlalu mahal."

The number of stories I have heard about maids/helpers who steal from their employers but are then kept on is unbelievable here. Mind-boggling. But if you are rich enough that it makes no difference to lose items of jewellery now and again and you don't really care then fair enough, I suppose. Many expats can live in a realm above all these 'transactions' to the extent that they are barely living in Indonesia at all. Each to their own. I need a break from it once every 18 months, in order to appreciate its wonders again, so maybe my threshold is lower than usual because I haven't been to the UK for quite a long time now and my weekend experiences made me think 'I'd much rather be walking in the Scottish Highlands'.

I can't afford a maid or helper, I'd advise people to reconsider keeping on maids or helpers that steal from them. However, these things might be complex and people do desperate things at desperate times so I'm sure there are plenty of explanations of why people do keep such staff on. Holidays are good. The Scottish Highlands are lovely, as is the Warwickshire countryside and many a "taman nasional" here. The UK isn't all sunshine and rainbows, times are hard there too at the moment. Holidays are a good coping strategy but every day life will also resume once they are over and we find ourselves needing to cope in Indonesia.

It's certainly an easy country to be taken for a ride if you are not very careful indeed, so I do feel for the original poster, even if the sums are tiny. If you let the little scams go then it can be a slippery slope to acceptance of bigger scams under the guise of 'this culture is different so I have to accept xyz with a smile on my face'. If it were just the really poor trying to feed their families it would be completely 100% understandable but as most members of this forum know, the short-changing or rule-bending/breaking is found across all levels of society, and perhaps more common higher up!

Plenty of examples of corruption in all countries (see: https://www.transparency.org/en/). Little scams can mostly be avoided by adopting coping strategies. Not really sure how to cope with political corruption but that is beyond the scope of this thread I guess...
 
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atlantis

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Not sure if they cant count or they're trying to rip me off.
In my region, it's a lot of the former and less of the latter.

Until pre-Covid I was used to purchase over a ton of fresh products every night on our local market and I have faced this situation zillion of times in the past ten years we have conducted business there.
Condidering that it was (much) more often a wrong change given in my favor than a wrong change in their favor I firmly believe that it's mainly due to the fact that mathematics are not mastered by most.
With time came confidence and most traders in my market, after we agreed on a price, just wait that I tell them how much I have to pay them in total and how much they need to give me back. Traders in wet markets aren't wealthy people and most don't own a calculator and when they do they struggle to use it.
Obviously, you may have the odd bastard who would rip off you or any of his fellow, but fortunately they are not numerous in my region.

As a matter of rule, if you want to pay cash, be prepared. Make sure you have the correct denominations to be able to pay the right amount or at least to ease the process of getting back your change.
Ex: you need to pay Rp 94.400, you have a Rp 100.000 note, then find the Rp 400 to give Rp 100.400 to the seller. He may not have Rp 5.600 in his cashier but he sure has Rp 6.000

We won't have people changing so that they fit our standard, but we can sure adapt so that we avoid the annoyance of some situation. It doesn''t mean that we should accept being short changed, just that we find solutions so that it doesn't happen.
 

Dpquinn

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I don't expect locals to conform to my expectations of how things should be done because I'm a guest here
This is a very interesting one. How does a person feel at home when they are only 'a guest'? At what point does one become not a guest anymore? Local passport? Is your opinion then suddenly of worth (assuming it contains absolutely no criticism whatsoever)? Is charging 'guests' 30 times the going rate for an entry ticket to a tourist site good manners, in any country or situation, even if done with a lovely smile? Like it or lump it and go home back to your country Mister?

I think if you live, work and pay taxes in Country Z then you ought to have a right to contribute to local debate and that your voice should be no less important than someone who was born in Country Z. Same in the UK, US or anywhere else. The free exchange of ideas - that's for the benefit of all. There are plenty of people with very different ideas and this is good - let the ideas prove their value (or not). But some cultures are generally more accepting of useful criticism or challenging ideas than others - even ideas that seem completely obvious. What use is education if all you do is give or get A grades / smiles for clearly shoddy work / treatment because you / they worry about upsetting you / them or feel that as a guest your / their input is somehow of less value? The student can't learn or improve!

I actively encourage criticism of my own work because it tests your viewpoint or work or theory or policy, so you can improve it. I'm not sure how anyone could genuinely argue that being given the wrong change is to be encouraged or accepted because you're only a 'guest' or worry about upsetting someone's extremely delicate constitution by asking for the right amount back. Fair is fair. Or maybe not - maybe out here fair is foul and foul is fair.

I remember once at Manado airport I couldn't help myself when a local guy pushed in the queue and put his bag in front of several of us who had been patiently waiting. So I grabbed his bag and told him there was a queue. He sheepishly moved to the end of the line. Actually, people were very glad I did this, because they were feeling exactly the same as me but were too scared to contemplate breaking the 'saving face' that is such an enabler of daily skulduggery. Sometimes people appreciate you standing up for what is obvious unfairness.
 

harryopal

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Lee Bale posed the question, " At what point does one become not a guest anymore? "

Largely it is in the eye of the beholder. Unless you are with people who have got to know you everyone here for the rest of our lives will see us as tourists or guests.

I think that attitude is found pretty much anywhere. It used to be in Australia that any English sounding person complaining was told, "Go home you whinging Pom". Even though Australia is now a very multi racial country there are still ugly, public outbursts given to foreign looking "guests.
 

Lee Bale

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This is a very interesting one. How does a person feel at home when they are only 'a guest'? At what point does one become not a guest anymore? Local passport? Is your opinion then suddenly of worth (assuming it contains absolutely no criticism whatsoever)? Is charging 'guests' 30 times the going rate for an entry ticket to a tourist site good manners, in any country or situation, even if done with a lovely smile? Like it or lump it and go home back to your country Mister?

I'm very surprised that one sentence sparked such a response. I would hope that a reply would deal with the totality of a post and not just a fragment of it, but I'm happy to respond on these terms. When I say that I'm a guest in this country, I mean that I don't have the legal rights of a citizen, which I don't. I work here, pay tax here and live here precisely because the Indonesian government and people allow me to. The rest of what you said here is your own and not attributable to the sentence fragment that you have decided to over-emphasize.

I think if you live, work and pay taxes in Country Z then you ought to have a right to contribute to local debate and that your voice should be no less important than someone who was born in Country Z. Same in the UK, US or anywhere else. The free exchange of ideas - that's for the benefit of all. There are plenty of people with very different ideas and this is good - let the ideas prove their value (or not). But some cultures are generally more accepting of useful criticism or challenging ideas than others - even ideas that seem completely obvious. What use is education if all you do is give or get A grades / smiles for clearly shoddy work / treatment because you / they worry about upsetting you / them or feel that as a guest your / their input is somehow of less value? The student can't learn or improve!

Again, not sure how all this is attributable, but I work as a teacher so will try to add some thoughts on the education system. I too value the open market-place of ideas. However, with cancel culture and other such phenomena emerging in the West, I'm not sure that everywhere else is as open to critique as you think (see: https://www.nas.org/blogs/article/tracking-cancel-culture-in-higher-education and https://www.nas.org/blogs/article/tracking-cancel-culture-in-higher-education).

It is illegal to blaspheme here. Meaning that I can lose my freedom for somebody else's perceptions of my religious opinions. When I lived in Thailand, I could have gone to prison according to somebody else's assessment of my commentary on the monarchy too. This means that I need to be extra careful about where and how I express my opinions, precisely because it is illegal. I don't like these laws, but denial of their existence won't stop me going to prison if I break them. So I do need to accept their existence and behave accordingly.

Regarding the education system, I cannot comment directly on the state system but I can on the private system. We operate the international baccalaureate system and use what are called 'criterion-referenced' assessments. In a given term, usually between nine and eleven weeks, I will assess students in accordance with a set of course objectives. Learning goals are aligned with objective strands. These strands are used to give instructions and provide feedback. Student work is then measured against these strands in the middle and at the end of the term. Each school year has four terms and we invite feedback with students on a daily basis and with parents on a termly basis via open days and at any time via email. Skills development and positive learning traits are also aligned with these goals (see: https://ibo.org/contentassets/901d3...001e0/approaches-to-learning-claremont-en.pdf and https://www.ibo.org/contentassets/fd82f70643ef4086b7d3f292cc214962/learner-profile-en.pdf). Critiques of student work are provided within the context of these strands to keep it as objective as possible.

Indonesian state education is present in the areas of civics and religion. Meaning that it is a legal requirement for students to attend these classes. My feelings aren't a barometer valued by the government, so I choose to respect their wishes and implement the subjects of English literature and social studies that I am qualified to teach in the context of the international baccalaureate curriculum.

I actively encourage criticism of my own work because it tests your viewpoint or work or theory or policy, so you can improve it. I'm not sure how anyone could genuinely argue that being given the wrong change is to be encouraged or accepted because you're only a 'guest' or worry about upsetting someone's extremely delicate constitution by asking for the right amount back. Fair is fair. Or maybe not - maybe out here fair is foul and foul is fair.

I'm not encouraging anything besides the development of coping strategies to operate within a foreign culture, in reference to this specific kind of situation. I am a guest here, as outlined above. While I have reservations and disagreements about the legal system here, I need to accept it for what it is because I choose to live here. Ranting and raving won't change that. Being cautious about how I express my reservations is something that I try to adhere to.

I remember once at Manado airport I couldn't help myself when a local guy pushed in the queue and put his bag in front of several of us who had been patiently waiting. So I grabbed his bag and told him there was a queue. He sheepishly moved to the end of the line. Actually, people were very glad I did this, because they were feeling exactly the same as me but were too scared to contemplate breaking the 'saving face' that is such an enabler of daily skulduggery. Sometimes people appreciate you standing up for what is obvious unfairness.

This is fair. However, I remember when a Thai man put his hands on my girlfriend due to similar reservations and I had to politely ask him not to touch her. People behind us were pushing at Siam BTS station on a Saturday afternoon. Sometimes, the ebb and flow of the crowd is something that you just have to roll with. This man was wrong for touching my girlfriend and I reminded him so. Luckily, I was calm and didn't lose my cool.

I'm not sure how I feel about this, invading the personal space of another person in order to remind them to behave orderly in public feels a little counter-intuitive. I hate queue jumping and experience this regularly. Sometimes, I stay quiet. Other times, a simple "permisi, ada antrean ya" is enough to suffice and they move to the back of the line. I think that face is more likely to be preserved when we are less confrontational. Sometimes, I'm ignored... such is life.

All that said, I am also guilty of becoming a bule galak at times too. So, while I can't escape the social conditioning that the UK has bestowed on me from my 24 years living there, I try to accept the fact that this conditioning is not standard operating procedure here, because it isn't. When I lose my cool, which can happen, I'm also out of line and feel that it is necessary to accept responsibility for my own actions... I sometimes struggle to follow my own advice, I am human after all. However, developing coping strategies generally helps. Winding myself up over small events on a daily basis doesn't help...

Thanks,

Lee
 

Lee Bale

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Lee Bale posed the question, " At what point does one become not a guest anymore? "

Largely it is in the eye of the beholder. Unless you are with people who have got to know you everyone here for the rest of our lives will see us as tourists or guests.

I think that attitude is found pretty much anywhere. It used to be in Australia that any English sounding person complaining was told, "Go home you whinging Pom". Even though Australia is now a very multi racial country there are still ugly, public outbursts given to foreign looking "guests.

I like this post, but the question was posed by DPQuinn in response to my apparently rather controversial statement that I'm a guest here. :)

Funnily enough, I was in Perth and Fremantle visiting friends last Christmas. One day, I was walking along the street to an ace little coffee shop and someone screamed at me out of a passing car window. Something like: "You fat loser, why don't you get a girlfriend from your own race?!". I'm sure that this would have made for riveting conversation if it was done while he was passing by on foot... I could have replied: "Because I like her, you moron!" or some other retort. Alas, a missed opportunity haha... Otherwise, this was the only unpleasant part of the trip.

I loved Perth and Fremantle though. Great beaches and better beer! Most people were a good laugh and managed to get past my inherent flaw of being a pom... haha :)
 
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HappyMan

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As far as the original post goes... Seems like it was about coin change. This can be a problem in small shops and minimarkets in particular. The explanation is usually just that there is no change. It makes sense to me. I rarely see anyone getting paid with change unless it is a parking guy or an angkot driver. So, we have hundreds of transactions a day with change going out and none coming in. It is just hard for the shops to stock enough change.

This is further complicated by the fact that small sellers are under-banked. Even for the mini markets, I imagine that a bank trip for change is more of an inconvenience than our western experiences would lead us to expect.

Alfamart has actually built a system to turn their inability to supply change into a charity... though the staff rarely knows much about those charities. It still helps me to not care.

This whole thing used to tick me off, but I've decided I just can't be bothered anymore. I will literally only use that money to pay the parking guy.
 

ChrisTex

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At the nearest Alfiemart by me, they tend to ask if I have x amount or in some cases, accepted less because they don't have change. A few other places including the water guys tend not to have change from time to time. In case of the water guy, who knows how many deliveries he has had before he came to me so I consider just tipping him. In the case of Alfiemart, sometimes if they do have the change, I might tell them to keep it since they have let me go without paying the full amount(less than 1k).
 

Balifrog

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Basic rule in all this kind of countries is ALWAYS have small notes with you.

But in 3 years in Bali, Sanur I never had a problem with this subject except the very occasional taxi driver.
 

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Ah the always popular "getting ripped off because some locals didn't bother giving back change worth 3 cents"...

Anyway, since in this forum we like some local context, let me add some as well. In no particular order:

1) The law requires correct change be provided in the currency of the land, that is IDR. In practice, because of the many zeros, and the impracticality of giving back change in tiny under Rp 100 denomination, this is often omitted or replaced with a token in exchange (usually candy).

2) Some stores, especially the larger mini-mart chains, train their employees to ask whether the change can be donated to some cause. Often the cashier is embarrassed to ask this (more so in the case of a foreigner), and may just apply this change to a donation, unasked.

3) Some of the more international chains (actually only Carrefour in Bali comes to mind), will generously round down any small digits, to a more manageable nearest 100. They also charge at least 10% more than other comparable stores, but at least you are not getting ripped off on change.

4) With numerous e-cash payment options, you can avoid this whole subject entirely.

5) Alternatively, maybe don't sweat it if some minimum wage clerk making less than $200/mo short changes you 20 cents.
 

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