I rarely pay close attention to my cellular telephone bill that I get from the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) every month for my Kolbi service.*
This latest bill, however, I decided to take a look aside from the total I have to pay and see an item at the very end, the last entry on the page, called the “redondeo“.
The item was ¢2.04 colones.
Redondeo is “rounding”. The cashiers at my local Auto Mercado do a lot of this, usually in my favour, even when it clear that the rules of rounding say the figure should be rounded up.
Rounding in Costa Rica is necessary since there is no longer the ¢1 colones coin in circulation. So, if my grocery bill comes to say, ¢5.263 colones, my local cashier usually rounds it down to ¢5.260, even though she should, by the rules of rounding, round up to ¢5.265.
ICE, however is not that generous with me. And am sure not either with more than 5 million cellular customers (Cellular penetration in Costa Rica is 153% of the country’s 4.7 million population).
My bill for May came to ¢39.930 colones. Well, not really. If I add up all the charges, the total is really ¢39.927.96 colones.
If I was paying for groceries at the Auto Mercado, the cashier would ask me for ¢39.925 colones. BUT, not ICE. They rounded up by ¢2.04 colones.
If I do the math and say that ¢2.04 colones is an average roundup, multiplied by 5 million customers, this comes to some ¢10.200.000 (US$18.890 dollars) monthly. More than ¢1.222.400.000 (US$225.000) a year.
Not bad. Why do they do it? Because they can.
* To get your cellular phone bill you need to have a PO box, otherwise ICE will not deliver you the printed cellular phone bill