Recently we were informed of a disgruntled tourist in Puerto Vallarta who was very unhappy regarding being shortchanged at a convenience store. Seems the wife sent the husband for avocadoes, beer and water with a $500 peso note and he came back with $50. Some things just don’t add up and this was one of those times. Apparently he did something North Americans are accustomed to, considering he was being helpful to the cashier. He gave her an extra two pesos to round up the amount, supposedly making it easier for her to count back. Problem is… this is not an exercise that’s been adapted for the peso.
Until the Oil Crisis in the late 70’s, the peso was one of the most secure currencies in all of Latin America. Capital flight destabilized the peso for many years to come when Mexico defaulted on its external debt in 1982. President Carlos Salinas adopted a strategy called the “Stability and Economic Growth Pact” and on January 1, 1993, a new currency was introduced. The new peso Nuevo Peso in noted on each bill with MXN, whereas the old peso, which became immediately obsolete, was MXP.
One new peso was equal to 1000 of the old peso and it took Mexicans awhile to make that adjustment. Tourists remained baffled for a much longer period of time; in fact, many people still have a difficult time making sense of the exchange rate.
Perhaps due to devaluation and constant fluctuations, cashiers have never bothered to learn how to count money back and therefore, visitors are less inclined to expect it.
However, we have a word of advice. When you hand over your money, regardless of the denomination or amount of change you offer, consider where you are standing. At the COUNTER, right? As defined in the dictionary it is a long flat-topped fixture in a store or bank across which business is conducted with customers. Do your counting there, before you walk away.
Mistakes can be made anywhere and instead of abruptly assuming dishonesty, we believe a much better approach is to make a constant habit of counting one’s change before one leaves the counter. An understanding of the exchange is also very useful. Before you go on your holiday to any foreign country, study the local currency and do your best to know how it compares to your own, so that you aren’t creating constant quandaries whenever you need to make a purchase. Don’t change your money in the airport or your home bank. Wait until you are
in Puerto Vallarta or your chosen destination; we recommend using the ATM machines, as you are assured of getting the most recent daily rate. ATM’s at banks are the safest.
Que es cómo es.
Thanks to our guest blogger Adam Garcia for this article!
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