How to Understand Prices

30 august 2007

Oh you little intrepid traveler, somehow you have made your way to a Romanian store and stand bravely with your purchases, waiting for the cashier to total them up so you can pay and be on your way home.

But wait! There is no cash register, or else it is standing there unused and the feckless cashier lady simply speaks aloud the total. Whatever shall you do?

Short answer: ask her to write it down. Abandon all hope for anything else ;)

Long answer: Two years ago the Romanian currency was devalued by four zeroes, meaning 100,000 lei became simply 10 lei . Should be simple enough, but in Romania nothing ever is.

To begin with, some people still refer to the new denominations with their old names. Therefore 10 lei is referred to as 100,000 lei. Except nobody actually ever said 100 thousand, they just said o suta which means “a hundred”.

So if the old total would’ve been 114 ,000, the cashier will tell you “one hundred and 14″. Except the real total is now 11 point 4 lei.

Converting 110,000 lei (110 in the old speech) to 11 lei is simple enough. Except that there is yet another complication, which is that often the cashiers will tell you the lei part in new currency (i.e. 11) and the bani (equivalent to “pennies” in U.S. currency) to the OLD currency.

So again if your total is 11.4 new lei (114,000 old lei), they will tell you “11 and four thousand) or 11 new lei and 4000 old lei.

Don’t even try to understand it ;)


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