Thursday, September 16, 2010

Legian Money changers

Bali Money changers sign board
Upon arriving in Bali it seems there are money changers on every street corner and in between too. All offer similar rates, some a little higher than others and there doesn’t seem to be much difference from one to another.

Well, so we thought too, however we had been strongly warned to check your money carefully before leaving.

We looked up and down the street and there wasn’t much difference in the rates AUD$1 = 8100-8200rp, we chose one at 8150 and entered.

Placing 2 X $50 notes on the counter, he proceeded to show a calculator and display 815,000 on the screen announcing “no commission” – OK, we agreed!

He carefully counted out the money and announced 815,000, we watched him count it and knew it to be correct, thanked him, took the money and then counted it out again in front of him, so and behold it was 50,000 rp short, he looked most surprised and counted it again, “oh, so sorry he said, you are correct” he pulled another 50,000 rp note out, added it to the pile and handed it to us.

Suspicious now, I counted it in front of him again, surprise, surprise, now 100,000rpo short. Now, I was a 2wake up to this and had studied his hands as he counted I had no idea how he had done this.
He then announced waving the calculator in front of us 785000 “I take commission!”
No, we decided, collected the 2 X $50 up and left.

Entering the next money changer, same thing happened, this time Daryll and the kids were actively Watching for the slight of hand. Still we couldn’t figure it out.

Entering another, he told us “please enter, these people will try and cheat you, come inside” All eyes were now fixated on this man as he pulled out a wad of arrgghhh 20,000 rp notes (we later learnt this is the first sure sign they will trick you)
He counted out the full amount, right in front of us and we counted along with him – correct.
We counted again, 20,000 short!
Oh my goodness, he apologized and recounted – we counted too, he handed to us and we recounted (much to his surprise 100,000 short)
Oh my goodness, he left the money on the counter in front of us, added 100,000 picked it up and plonked it in a pile sideways and handed it to us – all good! No possible way it had left the counter nor been tampered with.
We counted again (much to his great surprise) and now 200,000 short !!!!!

What! We felt like we were in the twilight zone, now we had been watching ‘breaking the magicians code’ on TV and we were all baffled, no idea how this happened.
We clung tightly to the money and said ‘no need to take it back, we know it is correct, just add 200,000rp to it and we’ll go.

He looked most worried and said “oh, I am sorry, it seems you are very confused and I don’t want to upset you, just give it all back and you can take yours back, you have been in the heat too much and are suffering”
By the beads of sweat building up on his forehead I don’t think it was us that was suffering at this point.
“Please just go” he begged

Now we were even more confused as to what was happening, but we left.

Arriving back at Kusnadi, we got chatting with the lovely girls that work there and asked them how it was possible and what was happening.

Multi tasking Money changers in Bali
They explained they are all illegal and that if anyone offers to change money whilst doing something else such as selling clothes they are not genuine as the genuine money changers ONLY change money. They mentioned they usually offer a slightly higher rate so people enter and then they have a tiny slit in their counter which is almost invisible. When they take the money in front of you, they give it a bang on the counter and an amount of the money falls down the slit under the counter, they then hand the rest to you (having already been counted) and they keep what drops through as their ‘commission’.

She went on to ask if we knew of the Bali jails and told us that if they realize we are on to them as a trickster, they will pack up immediat3ely so that they are gone by the time the police arrive should we call them as they are illegal and face huge fines and potential jail terms.

Ah, so that explained the trick that was occurring and how money could disappear without leaving the counter and also the very nervous beads of sweat.

We change money in the bank around the corner now (same rate – no sweat!)

1 comment:

  1. This happened to my Aunty while we were there too! Cunning eh?! I'm forwarding this on to a friend leaving for Bali in a few weeks!