Category Archives: Opinion

The Practice of Shortchanging in SM Stores

I am bothered by the fact that many stores do not give the exact change when their customers pay for their purchases. I’ve had consistent experience of this in SM stores, particularly with the supermarkets, the department stores and even Watson’s. Nothing is as irritating as the question, “Ok lang kahit kulang P0.25?” (“Is it ok if I lack P0.25 on your change?”)

Earlier tonight I passed by Watson’s to buy some medicine for my brother. Sidenote, there is no Mercury Drug inside Eastwood. You have to go out to the MDC building or cross C5 to get to one, making it very inconvenient to get to. For medicines, your choices are Watson’s or the pharmacy inside Robinson’s Grocery.

Back to my story. The medicine I got cost a total of P52.50. I paid P500, and got a change of P447. Obviously I was short P0.50, an occurrence that I had expected. The thing was, the girl at the counter didn’t even bother to ask me if it were ok that she was short fifty centavos. She just handed me my change and said thank you.

I quickly counted my money and looked at the receipt. Yep, my change was supposed to be P447.50. I asked her, “Don’t you have fifty cents?”

Given my numerous experience on similar situations, I half expected her to say that she didn’t have any. Instead, she asked me to wait and turned to the other cashier to ask if she had fifty cents.

I wanted to say, “O, meron naman pala eh,” (“Oh, you have change”) but I got the exact change back so I was slightly — only very slightly, mollified.

Is this the kind of practice SM pushes its personnel to do? It literally is shortchanging the customers. Think about it. If a thousand people shop at SM brand stores (not the ones that rent stalls in the malls, but places like the department store and supermarkets) and every one of them is shortchanged P0.25, that’s already a P250 “savings” for SM. The amount may not seem like much compared to what the malls earn in a day, but what if that shortchanging happens daily? For a year that equals to P91,250. Multiply that by the number of stores SM has all over the country.

In a way, it’s not about the money. It’s more of the principle. People go to SM (despite its many faults) because it’s accessible and it literally has it all for you. Products are fairly cheap, and it not only is a shopping place but also a place to hang out. But service is not the priority here, obviously, if management is allowing staff to shortchange their customers. I feel bad for the people who face the customers. I’m sure they don’t want to do this, afterall they’re the ones who get the brunt of a customer’s wrath.

I’m going ‘round in this argument, but I guess you get my drift. And I know for a fact that I am not the only one who has experienced this and is pissed off about it. Like I told a friend, “Mabuti pa yung FX sa Baguio. Nag susukli ng sakto.” (Taxi cabs in Baguio are better as they give the exact change to their customers.)

So before you leave the cashier, count your change and DEMAND that you get it to the last centavo. It is your right. After all, it is your money. I hope it resonates enough so SM management will take note and change their practice.

The Macaron Search

A few months back, I wrote about the macarons my best friend brought for me from Paris. It was my first time to taste the treat and became my standard for every macaron I tasted afterwards. Macarons are widely available here in Metro Manila, and I decided to try as much of them as I can.

La Patisserie
My cousin once told me of giant macarons that were being sold in the Salcedo Market. I managed to find it and grabbed three. Their macarons are about thrice as big as a regular macaron and came in chocolate, pistachio and vanilla (I think). I found it a little too sweet, and the texture of the macaron is a little rough compared to Lenotre’s. The big size also made it more difficult to eat everything in one go, but it’s good for sharing.

Verdict: So-so. I couldn’t quite differentiate the flavors of each macaron, and I didn’t really enjoy eating it so much.

Bizu is the store that readily has these treats available. Each piece costs P45, and comes in a wide variety of flavors. For my taste test, I got four flavors: Chocolate and mint, vanilla, rose and lychee and raspberry.

My favorite of all four is the chocolate and mint. It’s colored a funky blue with chocolate ganache. The mint flavor is strong and the sweetness is just right. I couldn’t quite taste the vanilla and I found the raspberry somewhat on the bitter side. The rose and lychee is quite nice, but I wasn’t quite sure what rose was supposed to taste like.

Drew said it was a little on the gritty side, which meant that the almonds weren’t that finely ground. Still, it tasted better than La Patisserie, but still not quite up to Lenotre’s level.

Empire macarons got the top marks when I went searching for macarons online. However, I had trouble getting them because I had to order from their store. Thankfully, they set up a booth during Eastwood Mall’s Gourmet Market last December and I got to buy a box of mini macarons. For P200, you get about 12 to 14 pieces.

The mini macarons aren’t that small, despite its name. It’s probably about three-fourths the size of a regular macaron, so it’s still substantial. On the Empire site, these are the available flavors: Original would be White Chocolate, Triple Chocolate, Hazelnut (Nutella), Pistachio, Strawberry, and Cookies and Cream. For the special flavors: Lemon, Salted Caramel, Mocha, Candied Rose, Milk Tea, and Chili Chocolate.

If I’m not mistaken, most of the flavors available were the special ones. I clearly remember tasting the lemon, salted caramel, milk tea, candied rose and the chili chocolate. The chili chocolate was quite a surprise because I immediately felt the kick of the chili as soon as I bite the macaron. Not really my favorite, but unforgetfull nonetheless.

Verdict: Empire claims to make their macarons with no shortcuts, and I believe it. Of all the macarons I’ve tried, it’s the one that comes closest to the ones from Lenotre. The macaron shell is smooth to sight and feel. The sweetness is just right, and the flavors that each macaron is supposed to have is distinct. The price is reasonable and the miniature size is just right for a decent dessert. Empire’s macarons are easily my favorite.

One thing I noted with all the macarons here in Manila is that they are less round than the ones from Paris. I read somewhere that it has something to do with the humidity in our air, which doesn’t make the treats rise as they would in colder climates. Apparently, it occurs even if you are in Baguio.

I have yet to try French Baker’s macarons. There is also another bakeshop that was at the Gourmet Market but I wasn’t able to get the name. I didn’t like their macarons either, as it was too mealy and gritty.

Note: This post was originally written on February 2012, but just now posted. Pictures to follow.