Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The price of a can of Pepsi? 10 gum balls and 5 chocolates.

There is a coin shortage in Brazil. A big problem for stores, bars, businesses in general is getting change from the banks. A common practice is rounding up or down 5 cents: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I really don't have a problem with that. I figure on average it all balances out. There are even times where I come up 5 or 10 cents short and the keeper just waves me off and rings up the purchase. But there is a really weird practice of giving candy and the like as "change". At most registers and counters you will see types of candy, chocolate, gum, etc for sale. There are times, when the register just does not have enough coins to give change so they "offer" the candy. Supposedly this practice is illegal. The curious thing is, if a store does this, then the store "is required" to accept the candy as payment, even though the issuing of the candy as change is not permitted in the first place. This is supposedly "law" but no one can point me to the statute. I have seen customers at the counter make a point about it, and the person at the register backs down. (Both ways, I have seen a person refuse the candy, and the coins that the store "did not have" magically appear, and I have seen people say "you gave me a 5 cent candy 10 times as change, so here they are in lieu of 50 cents") The problem is I cannot use the candy on the bus to pay the fare, use it to pay a light bill, etc. You can only "do this" at the same place that did it to you. And I really have a problem when they do it to kids. Despite Brazil's reputation for violence, it is very common (at least where I live, and have seen) to send kids over to the store to buy bread, milk, eggs, etc. They even sell cigarettes and alcohol (although it is against the law) to them, if the store keeper knows the kid and the family, and know it is for an adult. Of course a kid is going to accept the candy, and I am sure this has caused problems at times. Brazil!?! I love this place, but this is one of the many things that makes me scratch my head at times.

4 comments:

Ms Calabaza said...

Daniel,
I have a friend who moved to Wellington, New Zealand a few years ago. Every three months or so I send her a care package of oreos, baked lays potato chips, tootsie rolls and a few other things she just can't find over there. You want some skittles? tootsie rolls? M&M's? What is most valuable in Brazil?

Daniel @ Garanhuns said...

PEANUT BUTTER!!! Even though it is available here in some places (not where I live though), it pales in comparison. Creamy, whipped, chunky, honey roasted, we don't get those varieties here. There is though a treat called "Pasoca" which is like "peanut butter candy". It is a hard, formed cylinder shape that once you bite it it dissolves in your mouth, like peanut butter dust, great stuff. My mom sends me stuff every one in a while. The kids loved Reses Peanut Butter Cups (the big ones and the mini's) and my wife loved the Hershey's Kisses. Potato Chips (the domestic brands) are horrible here, but I was never a big chip fan. You can find Lays brand chips though, which are better, albeit much more expensive. I miss Oreos Double Stuff. On the flip side, there are sandwich type cookies here with really good filling flavor. The filling is not as good it has a kind of aftertaste, but the flavors are interesting. Black Cherry, Dulce Leche, Lemon, Lime, Coconut, etc. M&Ms are available. Chocolate is much better here. There is a chocolate shop in the town center that gives Godiva a run for the money. They make the stuff on site, and it is pretty popular in the region. You can buy it all over town and lots of people come from neighboring cities to buy it straight from the factory.

Ms Calabaza said...

Daniel,

I'm going to the post office this week. If you want, write me your address (or a PO Box)and I'd love to send you and your family some stuff. My e-mail: calabazaseeds@yahoo.com.

Daniel @ Garanhuns said...

Will send an email, THANK YOU!!