Sunday, 9 November 2008


I was waiting at the supermarket cash counter with just two items in my shopping bag. There was only one person ahead of me, and I was content to wait till he finished, though he did have a basketful of groceries. The cashier told him the amount, about Rs. 1200 and a little more, and waited for him to pay. Out came his wallet, but instead of cash, he pulled out a small booklet, which he laid on the counter.

Even as I looked on amazed, he opened it, and started tearing out sheet after sheet. The girl looked at one sheet and told him that the value of each sheet was Rs. 15. He nodded, and pulled out about 50 of them, one after another, taking his own time. Then he went on to pull out sheets of the next denomination, Rs. 50, as the girl verified.

By now she was confused, and had called her colleague to help calculate. The colleague came armed with a calculator, and while she calculated 50 x15 and wrote it down, the man began to pull out more sheets. Curiosity having got the better of me, (and I was melting in the heat as well, since the air conditioner had broken down in the store) and felt justified in wanting to find out just what was holding me up, I looked at the sheets – they were of Rs. 75 denomination this time. It also said something like ‘sodexho’ and ‘food pass’. I began doing some mental calculations to see how many more sheets of what denominations he would need, when he picked out a Rs. 10 note from his wallet and handed it to the cashier to complete his payment.

“Have you no change, sir?” she asked politely. “Only Rs. 2 more.”

The man coldly refused, and she ran to the next counter to get change.

And all this while I was in line, 12 minutes of watching the transaction, though it seemed like 12 hours. Finally the girl turned to me. Phew! I wondered why they did not have a separate line for people who wanted to tear out their coupons.

Coming home I tried to recollect where I had seen the word ‘sodexho’ before. And it came back to me. It was at a restaurant where my young friend had taken me for a treat – it said ‘sodexho’ coupons/passes were not accepted. She had planned to use them to buy our dinner! Fortunately we had some money with us, so we were saved some red faces, and did not end up washing dishes.

I wanted to know what this ‘sodexho’ is, and found out the following from another young friend, who gets them.
1.This is given by companies to their employees as food coupons in lieu of a part of their salary to save on tax. You save a nifty sum by the way because sodexho coupons are tax free. I am told most IT (Information Technology) companies go for it.
2 They can be used for buying groceries and food.
3.There are sodexho coupons and passes – the distinction is too fine for me to grasp.
4.Sodexho is a company name standing for Societé d'Exploitation Hotelière.

Very good, but maybe they will give coupons in the future in bigger denominations too, so other shoppers’ time can be saved.


Anonymous said...

Wonder how long this guy had been saving to buy groceries!

Devika Jyothi said...

i might need to read it again...:-)


just to let you know that i'll be around :-)

Webradio said...

Bonsoir Raji !
Il y a beaucoup de coupons comme cela en France.
Normalement, on ne peut en utiliser qu'un par jour par repas, donc 2 par jour...

A plus tard Raji.

janani said...

Hmm having worked in an IT company, we prefer to get SodexHo tickets in lower denominations. This is because many places do not give change for these tickets. So if I had only higher denominations, say 100, I could use them only when I spend more than that.

Still, I have always taken care to have counted the coupons I have before standing in the queue. Making people wait while you count out coupons is not manners

Gowri Mohanakrishnan said...

Reminds me of the old story of the guy who bought his bus ticket, which cost 30p at the time, in one paise coins. While he counted his change, and the conductor re-counted it, dozens of passengers got off and on the bus without buying tickets!

Indrani said...

I agree, Raji. They should keep a separate queue for the coupon wallahs.

I was thinking if Gardenia's comment would turn practical in super markets too. :D
May be then the super markets would stop accepting these coupons. :)

Anonymous said...

I witnessed something similar to what Gardenia wrote about - at a fast food restaurant, where someone paid for his food entirely in one cent coins! The line started to rumble unpleasantly, and luckily, before a full-scale revolt broke out, the guy finished paying - and the cashier spared us the added agony of re-counting all those pennies. Quite funny in retrospect, but not at that moment.

Swarna said...

All I can think of is - Give the coupons away to the needy / orphanage / old age home ... :)
[On the subject of this leisurely practice of using small change - You may have come across this new item Man pays small change as fine for not wearing helmet]

Adriana said...

what a shame it was not of great value! but I liked the story.

Unknown said...

Raji : This is a very well written post on Sodexho. I understand your plight in standing in that queue. I also agree with you that retail outlets especially food courts, supermarkets should have a seperate counter for Sodexho.

Salaried employees save a tax of 10,000/- per year using this Sodexho route to pay for their food, groceries etc.

PS : Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment on my blog


A Cuban In London said...

Your definition number four is probably the most appropriate. To me it's just exploitation.

Greetings from London.

Blogeswari said...

ha ha! Can so relate to it. At this supermarket next door, there's a separate counter for those who buy less than 10 items and I end up waiting at this particular counter for almost twenty minutes only 'coz those infront of me are Sodexho guys who count these passes a million times before the lady at the counter counts it for another million times.. urrggh! It takes ten minutes to shop and twenty minutes to get out.. arggh!

hpy said...

I have already used coupons like these even though they went under another company's name. Rather nice when you have to eat near your job, but many people use them to buy groceries too. Of course they are not accepted anywhere. We don't have them where I work today. And I mostly eat at home.

Maddy said...

that is new to me..i remember my friends in crompton, i think it was, used to have lunch coupons which they gave hoteliers with gusto..but sodezho - first i thought this would be something Greek for only they use x and o together in a word such as this...

kallu said...

Raji, absolutely new to me. Had never heard of this before.

Can understand your being vexed. Sometimes I think our new fangled stuff- computers and so on make all these transactions longer and more boring. 'Annachi' is always faster.

Kat said...

nooo no no.... it's not 'in lieu of a part of their salary'.. it's in addition to their salary...!!

we already have specific instructions to our people against pulling them out, when Raji is shopping :))))


Anonymous, Devika, Thanks for dropping by.

Webradio, I see that the rules are different there.

Janani, thanks for visiting. And explaining the system, and still agreeing with me!

Gardenia, Kamini, please see Swarna's comment, too.

Nice point, Indrani.

Adriana, thanks for being here - glad you liked the story.

Thomas, thank you for visiting. And explaining the tax saving benefits - I wish I could get some Sodexho coupons too.

Hullo Cuban in London, I enjoyed that.Thanks for visiting.

Blogeswari, maybe someone will see this post and arrange for a separate line for Sodexho holders.

Hpy, I quite understand that the coupons are of benefit to the user, and are most convenient when you have to eat out, near your work place. Thanks for visiting.

Maddy, I wonder...

Kallu, Annachi is far quicker, and more friendly!

Kat! Is it really in addition to their salary?

Gurooji said...

Well, not much I can add--except sorry:)
I'm one of those tearers and queue holder-uppers!
Separate queues are a great idea--just looking at the people behind me makes me tear faster, leading to more complications, and the simple addition I learned in school escapes me, so I take an eternity to figure out how many 50-, 30-, and 25- rupee coupons I really need to give :)

In our defence, they are like cash, and so it's tough to keep them torn and separate, especially for careless people like me. And even if one bar from the barcode gets torn, the stores refuse to take it (I just sent a bunch totalling Rs. 500 for replacement, not sure if that will happen), hence the careful tearing.

Oh, and the latest? The company's now called Sodexo (they dropped the "h")
And yeah, thanks for that dinner, Raji :)

flowergirl said...

Hee hee, can imagine how annoying it must have been.

I have to recount my story on a Japanese inter-city train. It was our last leg back to Tokyo, from where we were returning back to India. Now Japan being a place where there are always several zeros after the yen, I had also generated a lot of change, which added up to several hundred of yen!

We had to pay a surcharge on out ticket, and so I decided to use up all these coins, which were in a neat bag. The only problem was that when i took the bag out of my purse, I upturned it, and the coins splayed all across the carriage!!

Now this next bit was the most mortifying - all the fellow passengers and the ticket collector tutted away and went scurrying around picking up the coins. By this time I was beet red, and my mom had disowned me (I think). But the ticket collector ever so polite, gave me back the change he did not need!

Karthik Narayan said...

masterpiece to say the least... iv recommended this blog to at least 10 people today!!


Gurooji! It was a fun outing, sodexho or not.

Flowergirl. How embarrassing. But the passengers were so helpful, and the ticket collector so polite, so it can't have been all that bad.

Thak you , Karthik.

Anonymous said...


Mugen said...

I use Sodexho coupons and I hate using it for the same reason you mentioned in your post. It is very embarassing for me to keep everyone waiting while I tear them. Also there is problem with the change. But just like everything else in the IT industry I have to put up with these stupid coupons also.