Cashiers' habit that needs some change

I have increasingly noticed that at shops, cafes and clinics here, cashiers are placing change on the counter instead of handing it to the customer.

At first, I thought it was a disease-prevention measure to avoid physical contact, but that explanation seems unlikely, since the cashiers were accepting money with their hands, before passing it back to customers.

Because of arthritis or simply old age, many seniors have poor small-muscle control, as do people with other conditions, such as autism, muscular dystrophy or Parkinson's disease. In total, this is a large segment of the population.

When they pick up coins, they tend to either drop some or take a long time.

Either way, not only are they needlessly inconvenienced, but they are also holding up the queue behind them, which cannot be good for business or other customers.

This is a relatively minor problem, but one that can be easily remedied, if managers could inform their service staff of the disadvantages of the practice, especially since it affects the efficiency and image of the business.

If hygiene is a concern, cashiers can direct customers to place money in a small tray - as they do in Japan - and return the change into it. This avoids direct physical contact. Customers can then easily and quickly tip the tray's contents into one hand.

As a start, it would be helpful if some public awareness could be raised about this issue.

Ben Gibran

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2015, with the headline 'Cashiers' habit that needs some change'. Print Edition | Subscribe