24 July 2007

il Resto

Only the correct change.

In the US I found it very common that if you gave a cashier some change after they had input the amount into the register they usually could not figure out what amount to give you back. For example; you bought an item that came to $19.27 and handed them a $20 bill, they input the $20 but if you then gave them $.02 so they would give you back three quarters they looked puzzled. If the register said $.73 for change then that is what they had to give you.

In Italy we find this to be quite the opposite. Outside of the heavy tourist areas many local shops will not accept credit cards and work on a cash only basis. There seem to be two main reasons for this, one they don’t want to pay the card fees and second not all transactions may be “official”. Italy is well known for its nero, or business dealings that aren’t reported to the tax officials.

Also prices outside of the big chain stores tend to be whole round numbers and cents are always divisible by 5. Prices listed always include the tax so if you are buying something and the price marked is €10.50, then that is what you pay. Some proprietors will also round down the total to your benefit to avoid odd change, for example a total of €8.05 will be rounded down to €8.00.

Petty cash does not seem to be a widely used concept in stores as many will not accept large bills, as low as a €20, early in the day. I have seen more than one proprietor turn away a sale when the customer used a bill that would require too much change returned. This is compounded by the fact that the bancomat or ATMs tend to disperse mostly €50 bills.

Cashiers are also quick to ask for il resto, or change, from you to round out what they give you back. For example if your total is €19.20 they will ask for 20 centessimi so they can give you back a €1 Euro coin.

There is also a small dish on every counter where you place your money and where in turn the clerk puts your receipt and change. Placing the money directly into their hand or into yours is not common. I have had some clerks give me a strange look when I tried to put money into their hand, though those who know me have no problems with this direct contact.


Marco said...

You're right. It's just a matter of habits. As I made my trip in USA I was surprised when the cashier put the coins, il resto, directly in my hands, with hers long, colored nails.

Bryan said...

I forgot about the finger nails! They can be really long on some women in the US, curling down. Here I do not see them that long.

aquilotto said...

Thanks for the very useful tip!! The wife and I are there for Aug and need to know these little tidbits of very useful info.

Tanti Grazie


Bryan said...

Domenic, Always glad to hear that our experiences can help others.