May 6, 2010

I am sorry, I have no change!

In many places around the world, countries experience shortage of cash. You hear the expression “cash-strapped countries” quite often. That can affect you even if you have plenty of it. It basically means that you need to watch what notes you get at the local exchange offices once you arrive there

So, after you change your hard currency into local money at such an exchange booth and the smiling clerk hands you wads with 500s or 1000s, you will soon realize that you now have a very annoying problem- people outside just have no change for all these bills.
Which, at times, may mean that you practically have no money, so to speak?

Most people have problems because they do not have enough money, but now you have a problem because you have ‘too much’ money, or rather, you have such large denominations that the locals who only make some $2-5 worth of local currency a day, simply do not have the cash to give you the change for your transactions with them. You gave them $20-$40 in their money which can be a few thousand or so. How do you expect them to fork out the difference to pay you back?

Please get smaller notes. This will not be said to you anywhere at those booths as they are happy to get your dollars and send you on your way, but it is a very valid advice. Get as many smaller notes as you can so that you would not be held up at all these different places while the owner is running around the street visiting other stores in the desperate plea to break your 1000 pesos, kyat, baht or whatever currency you gave him into something more “malleable”.

Worse yet, is you being in a taxi and giving the driver your money and him declaring “I have no change” to you at your final destination. Usually he means it. You have a business meeting to attend to, people waiting for you and now you are involved in an altercation with the taxi man who does not have enough money. Yes, you can tell him that it is his responsibility to have change, not yours and he will often agree but the country just does not have enough money. And he has no such large money, either.

If you do not have smaller notes and are in a taxi, please ask the driver if he has change. If he does not have it, please ask him to stop at a gas station somewhere so that he could break down your “huge” bills. Better yet, when exchanging your money, get one half in large denominations, one quarter in smaller ones, and the rest in really small ones and plenty of coins. You will be doing yourself and the people who provide you service a big favor by having smaller bills.

The large ones can still be used at big departments stores and when paying hotel bills for a week or so. But even then, you will additionally encounter problems as some department stores may insist on smaller bills. Why do you think some countries are poor? They do not have money. As in having money for giving you change, got it?

Yes, I know, carrying wads of smaller notes can be a pain in the neck but not as much as being rejected for a product or a service because your 1000 currency unit notes are something they rarely see let alone can deal with.

Some developed countries have laws making it illegal to reject national tenders no matter what denomination they are, but in many other countries such laws apparently do not exist or are not enforced. “I have no change for your money so why don’t you buzz off- I am not selling you anything”.

Please get smaller notes or suffer the consequences.


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