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Non dimenticare lo scontrino!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Today I went to the copisteria (photocopy shop) down the street from my apartment. I know the guy there quite well because I have been buying my notebooks and other office goods there for the last two years. He did all my copies for me even though I told him that I could do them myself. In the end, I was happy I let him do my photocopies as he did a better job than I could have.

We walked over to his glass counter and he counted the pages to tell me how much I owed him. I gave him the money and when he handed me my change, he said, "Non dimenticare lo scontrino. La Guardia di Finanza fa controlli." (Don't forget your receipt. The Guardia di Finanza are checking.) The Guardia di Finanza is the Italian Fiscal Police.

I was noticing the other day many cars with "Guardia di Finanza" written on them driving by more often than ever. I rarely see the Polizia except when they're walking around town, and I usually only see the Carabinieri on very rare occasions or when I walk past their caserma (barracks) that seem to be littered all over town.

The guy at the copisteria told me that the Guardia di Finanza have gone up and down via Pietrapiana to check up on all the shops. "Forse hanno bisogno di soldi." (Maybe they need money), I said hoping to make light of the situation. "Ma che soldi?" (What money?), the guy asked me as he shook his head.

The shops on via Pietrapiana are quite modest. If any of the shops isn't handing out the scontrino, it means that they are not reporting the money that they are charging. And that's where the Guardia di Finanza steps in. They try to make sure that the money people charge is what they are declaring that they are earning.

I have heard of people getting fined for not having the scontrino as they exit the shop, but it always sounded like folklore. I've been told stories about the customer who got fined ten times the amount he supposedly paid in the shop, and the shopkeeper getting a hefty fine plus a surprise inspection of the books.

The stories scared me enough that I always ask for my scontrino before leaving any shop. Sometimes I forget when buying a rivista (magazine), but generally I try to remember. For example, I try never to leave a restaurant without the scontrino even if I didn't pay the bill.

So, when I walked out of the copisteria I held onto my scontrino and headed home. I think the law states that you must keep it for at least 50 feet, but I didn't throw away my scontrino until I arrived safely home.

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