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Opinion on coins and tokens as a form of change in wholesale and retail sales
Legal Resources Foundation (LRF)
October 19, 2011

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Background / Introduction

The use of multi currency in Zimbabwe since 2009 has witnessed a number of successes and challenges. Chief among the challenges is the difficulty to access and use coins. As a way of getting round this challenge retailers and wholesalers have resorted to a variety of measures. These include the issuing of credit vouchers which the purchaser can redeem in a few instances, from the same or similar outlet for value of change owed.

In other cases, petty goods like sweets, shoe polish, razor blades, matches etc have been offered in place of the change that a customer is owed. The few outlets which have managed to access coins, mainly in Rand form, have used these as change with some using that day's exchange rate and any other rate they chose.

The above quoted scenarios have seen customers making do with goods which they have no need for or being confined to conducting their shopping to those same outlets so that they are able to redeem the credit vouchers. In other instances people have to buy more than what they need so that the need for change does not arise.

Some cases have seen heated exchanges between the customers and the shopkeepers as they try to reach a compromise on the mode of change or to call off the sale outright for want of change. From a customer perspective, it is clear that multi-currency use has exposed them to an unfair trade practice where they no longer enjoy freedom to shop where they want and to receive the exact change due to them. In extreme cases, customers have abandoned the change due to them, thus unjustly enriching the retailers and wholesalers concerned. In view of these scenarios, this document is designed to explain why this is happening as well as suggest possible solutions.

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