When we would go shopping while living in France, it was common to be asked to provide the coins with the bills when paying for something. If we didn’t have the coins, we would receive a not so pleasant look, but the cashier had the change to give us. During my growing up years and adult years in the USA, it wasn’t ever a problem to ask cashiers for smaller bills back when paying for something. It was common to get smaller bills at a bank. When eating out, it wasn’t a problem to pay a $1.25 bill with a $20. France was definitely a helpful transition into life in Cameroon – allowing us baby steps.
One of the first things we were told when arriving is that the biggest bill is 10 000 cfa, but most vendors won’t accept it because it’s too big. The smallest coin is a 5 cfa, but most vendors won’t accept anything smaller than a 50 cfa coin. So when you have 500, 1000 or 2000 bills, you try to hold onto them. When we go shopping we are asked frequently to provide the exact amount. When we hop in a taxi we are expected to provide the exact amount of use small bills if it’s a depot. There have been times when we’ve waited up to ten minutes to receive our change because the vendor didn’t have it and had to go asking for other vendors if they could make the change. There have been times when the vendor refused to allow us to buy a particular item because we didn’t have smaller money.
So that leads us to the question, where has all the change gone? We see people doing business throughout the day either selling their wares or toting people around in the their taxi’s.