Cupom Fiscal

One of the smaller little strangenesses of Brazilian life, which can still bite me at times, is the nation’s obsession with the cupom fiscal (sales receipt).

The trick is, you see, often when you buy something – particularly food – you don’t just go up and buy it, hand over the money and receive the goods. That would be too easy and would ruin all the fun. What you do is you indicate your intention to buy, select the purchase, hand your money to the person at the till, who will ring up your purchase and give you the all-important cupom fiscal.

Then you take your slip of paper, go to a different desk, and hand it it to a completely different person who actually makes up your order.

It’s an efficient enough system, I guess, and possibly more sanitary since it means you have one set of clerks handling money and another handling food preparation.

But it’s still confusing as heck if you’re used to a sales receipt being just a receipt, which in New Zealand would get an automatic ‘shove it in my pocket to immediately forget’ reaction.

It doesn’t always work like this either, which is why it gets confusing. Supermarkets don’t use cupoms fiscal (which makes sense since you’re already holding the goods). McDonalds doesn’t, but Bob’s does. It seems to be either high-value goods, or food, or low-rent places, or tradition, or a mixture of all those.

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