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Attention All Filipino Cashiers

Attention All Filipino Cashiers



This post was conceived because of a recent event that I experienced in downtown Calbayog City.  It’s not the first time that it has happened to me and most likely will not be the last.  It has not only been cashiers in Calbayog City either so I’m willing to bet that I am also not the only one that this has happened to.  In fact I believe that I have read a few posts and/or comments somewhere that this has happened before to someone else.  If you have had an experience like this please share it with us.  Maybe if enough Filipinos see it, it will become a thing of the past.  Sorry but I have to specify the name of the company involved.  This does not in any way affect my shopping at this place though.  I know it’s a Philippines wide thing pretty much and will only get better with repetition.

As I said I was in downtown Calbayog City to get some money at the bank.  After the bank and eating at Chow King, Lita and I went to Mercury Drug to get some of my prescription.  They didn’t have all of it so we went to Rose Pharmacy across the street.  This is where the event occurred.

Night time view of Rose Pharmacy - Calbayog City

After getting my medication, Lita decided to just pay for everything at the pharmacy counter so she wouldn’t have to wait in the longer line at the cash register.  Okay, I’m fine with that.  Our total came up to P981.  So, not wanting to carry around a pocketful of change, I gave the lady P1001 to get a P20 bill back.   She had a funny look on her face when I gave it to her, but she took it and handed it all to the cashier in one of their little baskets.  I figured that maybe the saleslady was confused, but the cashier would know what’s going on with that.

The cashier had several baskets over there and it was hard to tell which one was mine, but I saw her take a P20 bill out and put it in one of the baskets.  I’m thinking to myself, see I knew she would understand.  Wrong!  As it turns out, that wasn’t my basket.  When my basket did come up, the cashier got the money out and proceeded to put P19 back into the basket.

Mercury Drug

When the saleslady went to get the basket to return it to me, I saw that she and the cashier still seemed to be confused and were smiling at each other, as if they didn’t really know what to do with it.  Well when the basket came back, I was expecting to find P20 in change in the basket, the P1 I gave her plus the P19 in change.  But that wasn’t the case either.  Inside the basket was only P19.  I know I should have said something, and if I would have been there by myself, and not with Lita, I would have.  Lita is always in a hurry when she goes downtown and was anxious to get back home.  I just smiled talked to myself a little bit and left.  I wasn’t going to make a fuss over P1, but if I’m ever there alone and it happens, I will correct them.

I guess they came to the conclusion that the P1 was for a tip.  I don’t really know, just guessing as to what they were thinking.  Trying to figure out a woman is hard enough, but when it’s a Filipina, well you have a better chance of locating a small needle in a giant haystack then figuring that out.


After I got back home I asked Chatty about it.  I asked her because she works in the bakery a lot and I figured she would understand the humor in it.  Well it turns out it did make her smile.  I don’t see Chatty smile very much and I did enjoy that.  When I told her about it, I did it by asking her what she would do in that situation.  She knew what to do.  She just turned 17 years old and she got the answer pretty quickly.  I asked Grace the same question, because she is a college girl, and she got the right answer too.  So why can’t these older cashiers figure it out?

Anyway, that’s my story and I would appreciate feedback on this from all, but especially from people that have had a similar experience.


  1. I have been surprised at how many cashiers ask me for an extra peso or two to make the change easier! I have never been asked in Texas for an extra penny. And I have confused many back in the Us by giving extra change. At Gaisano in Oton they ask all the time – they must hire some smart girls (and all hot ha ha!)

    • Well it confuses most of the people around here, but it has been getting better lately. They ask me while I’m in Texas, but Texas is a big place, so that doesn’t mean much.
      Thanks for checking out my site though Tim. I hope it helped you. For the rest of y’all, check out Tim’s site here:

  2. Sorry if this is not where it belongs. When I click “home” and click “Sitemap” I get Chinese writing that neither my computer or I understand. I believe I need a program, I just don’t know which program. Can someone help me a little here? I’ll try to return the favor sometime.

    • I get the same thing Wes. I’ll have to look into that. It was working before.
      I’m glad you stopped by the site because I had no clue about that. I hope there is something here that will be of interest to you while you are here.

  3. Somewhat of a similar head scratching incident, i was in a bakery section of a supermarket chain in Florida and wanted to get some donts. So i ask the young man behind the display if i could get a dozen donuts mixed. He turns to his co-worker and asks….How much is a dozen……….

    • Ernesto first of all thanks for taking time to read and comment on this site. I enjoy seeing new comments as often as possible. Next I was wondering about the young man. The way that it is written, to me, could have meant that maybe a dozen doughnuts was a different price than doughnuts individually. Of course it could also mean that he didn’t know 12 was a dozen. Unfortunately neither of these would surprise me. It seems that the more electronic someplace gets, the less intelligent the humans in that area become. I wonder if they have a clue about 13 being a “baker’s dozen”? Or is that something that is going the way of the Dodo bird? (for those who may not know).

    • I’m wondering if it’s because they are on the metric system. (??) I went to my local sari-sari lady and brought my own, empty egg container for a dozen eggs. I told her, “I’d like to buy a dozen eggs.” and I handed her the container. She put six in and asked, “More?.. or is that enough?” So I said again, “No, I’ll take an entire dozen.” She got confused so I said, “You can fill all the spaces, I’ll take twelve.” and that was the only way it got resolved. And yet.. they buy eggs in those plastic, 1-dozen containers all the time at the grocery store. So.. I don’t get it. Why the confusion?

      • I don’t understand the confusion either. Even the Tagalog word for dozen is “dosena”. That’s “dough-see-nah” so it seems that it sounds close enough that most people would be able to figure it out. I suppose it does depend on the person.

  4. good article and it made me chuckle cause I have seen similar things like this happen here in america many times. if it were not for the cash register that does all the brain work for them I dont see how anything could get done right. I would say its the young generation but it sounds like the young people at your home knew the right answers so throw my theory out the door. My son has many online filipina friends and has been chatting people from there for over 6 years. one thing he has found out is that not all are created equal and that many really really need that college education and good job experience. I will be on the lookout for such financial challenges when I get there. thanks for the heads up.

    • I figure that is part of the problem Donna, the cash registers that do the work for you. They make things so easy to do that no one has to bother figuring out how to do it on their own.

    • Donna, your theory is accurate. It is the younger generation. Many are simply not taught to make a decision, or are allowed to for that matter. Take buying a beer for example – I am 58 years old and was refused a beer at a local restaurant because I did not have my ID on me (it was in my vehicle). When I asked the young waitress for the manager (about 26 yo), he also denied me a beer saying it was company policy! They are not allowed to make a simple judgmental decision, and many times they can’t! It’s getting ridiculous!

      • Back in the States, I’ve been carded for wine at the grocery store. Same thing cited, ‘policy’. But the other element here is that many of these businesses are Chinese-owned. Their socialist mentality is NOT to empower their employees.. but rather to threaten them with unemployment if they go beyond their job scope. To the Chinese, an employee who ‘makes decisions’ on their own is bound to be their next competition. So they don’t keep employees much longer than 6 months. They don’t empower anyone beyond their job description. And any Filipino lucky to have a job isn’t going to risk their family’s only income by going beyond the rules.

        • So they tend to go strictly by the rules to save face and/or save their jobs.
          I had someone card me a couple of times in Texas. One place carded everyone. I was told that even an old man in a wheelchair, he gets carded. Heck it could be a youngster disguised as an old man was the reason I got. The other place, I don’t know why the carded me, but I just thanked them and showed them my drivers license.

  5. Giving extra to round up the change isn’t done in the PI. It just confuses them. I gave up on it.

    • Howdy David. Thanks for taking time to read my blog and also for sending a comment.
      I haven’t gotten to the point that I will give up on it, but if it happens too many more times, then I might. It seems like a pretty simple thing to do. Maybe when/if they get some of the electronic cash registers that tell you the change they will evidently get whats going on.

      • I haven’t given up on it either. I have had mixed results. Sometimes the cashier picks up on it right away and other times, you can hear the wind whistling between their ears.
        One time I was at KFC in Angeles with my wife’s sisters and I tried to make the change work out to exactly a P100 bill and I just confused the guy greatly. He gave me my correct change and than I added the extra coins to what he gave me and asked if I could have a P100 note and you could almost see the light bulb go on. He looked at me, grinned and said….oh, now I understand.

        On a slight different topic, it drives me crazy when I buy a meal at a McDonalds, Chow King, Jollibees, etc and when I give them a P1,000 or P500 note, they ask me if I have anything smaller. I just tell them no. Sheesh, you are a cash only business and take in tens of thousands of pesos every day and you want smaller bills? Of course, in fairness, I see places in the US that have signs saying they won’t take $50 or $100 bills.
        Another story while I’m on a roll. I went to a place in SM Clark with my wife and son one day and ordered the Macho Taco which is very very good. The waitress came back a few minutes later and told me they were out of lettuce and asked if I wanted something different. I told the waitress that I wanted the Macho Taco and I would have it without the lettuce. She came back a few minutes later and told me the cook said he couldn’t do that. What? I tell her to give me five minutes. I walked down to Hypermarket, bought a head of lettuce, walked back to the restaurant and gave it to the waitress and asked if I could have the Macho Taco now. My wife was trying to hide at this point but I got my Macho Taco with lettuce. 🙂

        • I guess I need to continue then because so far all I have gotten is the confusing look. I suppose instead of just shaking my head and talking to myself, I should have told her, “Now take this change, add it to the P1 I gave you and give me a P20 bill”. Sometimes it just bewilders me so much that I don’t think about what to do at the time.
          For those signs in the US about not taking anything more than a P20, well that is because when they get a certain amount of money, they put it in their little time safe. They try not to have to get anything out of there and have a timer on it so they can’t get it quickly (to deter robbers). I haven’t noticed any of those here.
          I’m glad you decided to include this last story, it was as good one. Even in the US I have had people tell me things like they couldn’t give me a hamburger with mustard instead of that ketchup/mayonnaise combo they put on there. I said, “Do you make the hamburger fresh”? He said, “Yes”. I said, “Well when you get to the part that you put on the ketchup/mayonnaise, don’t. Put mustard instead”. He had to call his manager over to settle the matter. Of course once the manager got there, he gave the guy a strange look, apologized to me and I got what I wanted.
          Oh, and now I know to try a Macho Taco when in the area. I wonder if I should get it with or without lettuce?

          • The Macho Taco is pretty darn good for being made in the Philippines where decent Mexican food is nearly impossible to find. It can be found at Xtreme Espresso.

            Jen and I went to another restaurant in SM Clark once and I ordered the taco salad. The waitress asked me what type of dressing I wanted. Huh? Salsa of course. No, they don’t have salsa, only honey mustard or ranch. Sigh.

          • I never heard of Xtreme Espresso, but I will try to remember that when/if I ever get to a big mall.
            Honey mustard or Ranch? I guess if that is the only choice, I’d take Ranch, but it just wouldn’t be the same.

  6. I actually just had this happen this week. I had 95P due in change so, to make things easier I gave an extra 5P so I could get a 100P bill back. No dice. She looked at the 5P, got confused and handed it back. However, as she counted out the 95P back to me in my head.. I “think” I noticed an epiphany on her part that had she accepted the extra 5P it would have come out to an even 100P bill.

    Oh well. I was a cashier at age 17.. way back before laser-scanners and auto-calc change registers. Back then I had to enter every price by hand and do the change in my head. And I’ll admit, at first I thought some customers were trying to con me out of an extra $5 when they pulled this on me the first few times. But after giving it some thought it “clicked”.

    Now, if only the laser-scanning actually sped up the line at the grocery store. : /

    • I came across a 17 year old back home in Texas that didn’t want to sell me a sandwich at Subway because the cash register was out. He didn’t know what the tax rate was and he also did not know how to figure out what the final price would be even if he did have the tax rate. I helped him out though. What in the world did he learn in school, I was wondering. I still wonder.
      These ladies didn’t look like they were having an epiphany or even a clue as to what I wanted to do. Maybe someday.

  7. John, they probably figured it as a tip as the last foreigner probably gave them a P20 tip. In your case they were smiling at each other because they thought you were kuriput! haha

    • Maybe. But I’m not. Far from it actually.

Texan in the Philippines