Tuesday, November 13, 2007

DVD rentals, Cyprus style

Let me first set the scene:

Richard and Tim rather enjoy an old American TV series called 'West Wing'. It's a light political drama series, which they say is cleverly made, well produced, and sometimes funny.

Since they're fairly expensive to buy - and they can't imagine watching them more than once anyway - they've started renting a four-episode West Wing DVD every weekend. They watch two episodes on Saturday night, and two on Sunday, and then return the DVD on Monday. That costs a grand total of £1.50 per DVD.

I must also mention that we keep, on a table by our door, a pot of small change. It's easy to collect coins that make a wallet very heavy, so we all offload our change into the pot, and then pick up whatever we need if buying bread, or needing parking money, or doing some photocopying, or renting a DVD, etc.


On Saturday evening, Tim picked up three 50c pieces from the pot, and popped out to the DVD rental place. He was given the next West Wing DVD in the series, and handed over his £1.50.

Unfortunately, only two of the coins were actually 50 Cyprus cent pieces.

The third was a British 50p piece, which looks remarkably similar:

... particularly if you're in a hurry, which Tim usually is. Besides, he didn't expect to find anything other than Cyprus coins in the pot.

We could speculate on whether a 50p piece from our recent travels somehow made its way there, or whether one of us was given it in change in Cyprus somewhere, and didn't notice. We shall never know.

But for Tim, standing there in the DVD rental shop, it was a big problem.

Still, this is Cyprus.

'No problem,' they told him. 'You can give us the extra fifty cents next time you come in.'

They know he's a good customer, and it wasn't exactly a huge amount they were talking about.

However, it's 21st century European Union Cyprus. The DVD rental shop is fully computerised. So it wasn't quite as simple as a shrug and trusting him to bring the money next time. They had to make the account and paperwork correct.

So this is how they worked it out:

First they gave him a discount of 50c for the weekend's rental. Discounts are very common in Cyprus, and - it seems - can be given for any reason.

Then they put a 'late charge' of 50c against his account, to ensure that he would be charged the extra money at some point in the future!

Last night he returned the DVD, paid the 'late charge' (although in fact he has never returned anything late) and everyone was happy.

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