Canine of 9

Step into any shopping mall; choose any store; a shoe shop, a readymade garment outlet or any food joint. At most of the places you would find inspiring price tags like 49/-, 99/-, 199/- or 499/- etc. Means price ending with a digit 9.

There are two perspectives of the price tag that is ending with digit 9. Take an example of an item priced at Rs. 99/-. The first benefit, in terms of the consumer, that the selling price appears attractive and defined in only two digits. And it also suits his pocket. The customer is also happy as the item is within reach of a Rs 100/- note.

Second benefit, to the seller, as he actually sells it at Rs 100/- most of the time. Reasons could vary from time to time. A few could be:

  • He may not have a change of Re 1/-
  • Customer ignores taking back the change.
  • In lieu of Re 1/- many outlets including the big brands hand over a candy instead of a Re 1/- coin.

The customer also feels satisfied as he has got the value of his Re 1/-. Now think, if we buy a Re 1/- candy in bulk would it cost @ Re 1/-. No, absolutely not, it would be cheaper rather. Ultimately who is bearing the loss; it is only the end user, the customer.

Hold on for a moment and do a simple calculation. Let’s take an example of an outlet selling 50 such items a day for which balance Re 1/- is not returned:

Extra amount collected by the outlet

Per Day (50 x 1)               :                 Rs 50/-

Per Month (50 x 30)       :                 Rs 1,500/-

Per Year (1500 x 12)        :                 Rs 18,000/-

If this is a story of a single outlet then imagine the amount collected by several thousand outlets being operated in the country. This huge sum straight away turns into black money. This is a mere estimation and not the actual figure. They may be different, may be less or more.

Now let us hear the plea from the perspective of a business owner. Is he doing all this deliberately to earn profit out of the way? Many shopkeepers and outlet owners face problem getting adequate change from the market. They state that there always remains shortage of coins hence they are not able to return proper change to the customer.

Those who are providing change to the customers are buying coins in black from the market. According to a general survey people are selling coins at a margin of 20% to 25%. In other words you need to pay Rs 120/- to buy coins of Rs 100/-. This is absolutely illegal. I think one day our stock market and banks would get bound to enlist the buying and selling rates from INR to INR. 😛

This simple Re 1/- issue is expanding its jaws wider and wider and its canines are getting longer day by day. There is only one way to get rid of this problem if the practice of returning a product instead of currency should be banned and declared illegal. A ban should also be imposed on commission agents who are involved in buying and selling coins. Strict action should be taken against them if found guilty of the same. Governing bodies and RBI should ensure that coins of different denominations are issued to banks regularly so anyone can obtain it as required. Next time when you visit any outlet think for while buying a product having a price tag ending with digit 9.

Have a Happy Shopping.


Ashwini Bagga

(Writer & Guitarist)