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Sun 9 Nov 2014 12:17 PM

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Where’s my change?!

If ATMs won’t give anything smaller than AED100 then taxis & shops must have more change or better credit card facilities, Courtney Trenwith argues.

Where’s my change?!

Got anything smaller, mam?

It’s a phrase so common in Dubai I literally anticipate it every time I go to pay for a taxi or a small bill at my local supermarket. It seems that coming by cash smaller than AED100 is like finding a needle in a haystack. And yet in this world of home delivery and mini-marts on every corner that make it easy to buy a quick item rather than do a major weekly shop, it amazes me that change is so hard to come by.

The problem is ATMs, which only dish out AED100, AED200 and AED500. I will often withdraw AED100 at a time, just to make sure I get the smallest denomination possible, dare I need to pay for a AED10 taxi fare to work in the morning with a AED200 bill.

But if banks are not going to give us personal customers smaller cash, then businesses at least need to have better access to change.

It should be the taxi or the shop’s responsibility to give me the appropriate change. In many cases I need less than AED50, but even that is not in the till.

Last week when I went to pay for a taxi with a AED100 note – remember, that’s the smallest I can get from an ATM – the driver told me he had zero change because he had just started his shift.

If that is the case, taxi companies need to introduce a float – a wallet of small denominations that is maintained at the beginning and end of each shift so that drivers and passengers can avoid the annoying problem of realising no one can pay.

Or better yet – what happened to the credit card machines that Dubai Taxis was apparently implementing? I don’t know anyone who has seen one yet. Do they even exist? Now that would make life much easier.

Uber – the new taxi booking system threatening to take away business from Dubai Taxis – has it down pat: the fare is automatically deducted from the customer’s credit card used to make the booking.

Other countries already have introduced payment systems that allow customers to literally tap their card on a machine and go, if the payment is up to about $40 (AED140). No time to enter a pin number or sign.

But of course not everyone has a credit card. So we return to the problem of no change….

The sooner Dubai introduces any one of these schemes – or each of them - the sooner we all - taxi drivers, shop assistants and customers – will be happy.

Granny Scroggins 5 years ago

Interesting... Wonder if this is Central Bank policy deliberately to keep money supply tight (inflation-related?). Or maybe just all the notes are being used by Iranians to buy/launder Burj Khalifa apartments...

Snow White 5 years ago

My issue paying the taxis with a credit card would be the process of the taxi drivers getting paid, I can see this causing all sorts of hold ups. I assume that at the moment the driver gets the cash and pays the office their deductions but once the office is holding the cash how regulary will the taxi drivers get their salary. I would feel far happier paying in cash and knowing that the driver has been paid. I think the issue of cash needs to be dealt with as a whole, not just for paying taxi's but also in shops where I have had similar issues.

Chris 4 years ago

I whole-heartedly agree with this. It is ALWAYS a struggle for change wherever you go. Why is this only a problem in the UAE and no other country? Surely there must be a solution. Half the problem is mentality. Our local F Mart never has change in the morning, it is better from 2pm onwards. Surely they should just keep lower denominations from the previous day and not bank it all. Really frustrates me!