I AM a DHA Phase I resident in Islamabad, and often visit a branded fast food outlet in Bahria Town Phase VII. Every single time I visit its drive-through, I am short-changed. I am certain this is the case with most of the people visiting it.

If the total bill is of, say, Rs 895, and you present the cashier with a Rs1,000 note, only Rs100 are returned as change, without informing about the missing five rupees. Interestingly enough, the tax receipt states the exact amount of the total, and the change returned to the customer. As per receipts, the cashier has returned the exact change to the customer, which is factually not the case.

Upon inquiry, the person at the food pick-up counter condescendingly asks you whether you would want him to bring over the five rupees (or whatever change there is) and asks you to pull over to the side while he fetches the change that ideally should have been handed over once the initial payment was made.

While studying and later working in Australia, even a single dollar’s worth became significant to me as I realised the struggle required to earn a living. This, unfortunately, was not the case before my departure. Had I been in Pakistan and not experienced life abroad, I would have probably ignored the short-changing and moved on with life. Why bother yourself over Rs5? But this issue is highly unethical and immoral and needs to be highlighted.

The outlet experiences traffic of nearly 600-700 vehicles daily. Short-changing half of those for a mere Rs5 amounts to Rs1,500-2,000 per dai. Multiply it by 30, and it adds up to Rs50,000-60,000 a month; every month!

Keep in mind the fact that I am proposing a modest traffic level and Rs5 as a base for my hypothesis. This is fraud and misrepresentation with the government as the fast-food chain is under-declaring its income.

As already mentioned, the tax receipts state the total amount, the customer’s cash, and the change due. The money being earned through these dirty, immoral tactics must indeed find its way into the pockets of either the employees or the franchise-owner.

I know for a fact that when the branch opens for the day, cashiers are provided with sufficient change to last through the day. Even if a cashier runs out of change, which is highly unlikely, the customer should be informed, and the tax receipt amended accordingly so there is no misrepresentation.

The authorities and the people of Pakistan need to be made aware of such tactics used by just about all sorts of outlets — from super stores to petrol pumps. This practice will not last more than a day at any outlet in the West. Every person needs to be accountable, and, therefore, contribute to establishing and enforcing the law in the country.

Arsalan Asif
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2021

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