Beware monthly pre-paid wireless Internet "Easy-Up" deal

Another in the continuing chapter of probably-half-a-scam and complicating-life-for-foreigners enterprises in Taiwan.

Many coffee shops and McDonald’s, etc. are now offering wireless Internet service. To use the service, you have to buy a card (with a username and password on it). These cards are offered for 1 hour, 3 hours or a full month’s unlimited use. Since 1 hour is NT$50, 3 hours NT$100 and the full month NT$600, and there is a McDonald’s and a really nice comfortable coffee shop right next to my house, I opted for the monthly. I had used the hourly cards before with no problem.

Problem is, you buy the monthly card (for cash, of course), and you are given a username and password. You then cannot log-on using the information. The screen automatically re-directs you to an error screen for “” (pathetic – they haven’t even got their own error screen set up on the site – and don’t bother clicking the “English” link, it doesn’t work – and don’t bother trying to enter your username and password on their homepage like the directions say – there’s no place to do it). You are then directed, through a haze of Chinese text which is not very well organized, to download their “hui yuan [member]” application form. This form, of course, wants all your personal data – name, address, cell phone, regular phone, fax, ID number, e-mail…it goes on and on. They also “require” a copy of your ID. This sounds like shameless data-mining to me. I get enough spam as it is, not to mention those annoying unsolicited text messages on my cell phone from random companies.

Being a nasty sort with a bit of extra free time on my hands this week, I phoned up their “customer service” number, where I was greeted by a chipper young man surnamed, not surprisingly, “Chen”. Mr. Chen was happy to read his script introducing the product. It’s odd that this script did not mention any of the “benefits” of becoming a “member” (other than the fact that that is the only way you can use the card!) I allowed as how I wanted to use the product I had just purchased. Mr. Chen told me that the law of the ROC required them to collect this information in order to let people use the service.

So, I have some questions:

  1. How is monthly (single month, not month-to-month) service any different from hourly, that there would be different legal requirements?

  2. How is pre-paid wireless Internet access different from pre-paid cell phone cards, that there would be such a requirement for one but not hte other? The whole reason things are pre-paid is so that undesirables with lots of money (foreigners!) can use the service at a much higher rate than the general population. :wink: There’s no risk to the company, so they have no need to get one’s personal information.

Being an inquisitive person, I asked Mr. Chen precisely WHICH law it was that required this documentation. He told me confidently that it had to do with the telecommunications authorities. I asked him to fax me a copy of the law, and he agreed immediately (sounded like he had it sitting there) but oddly enough, the fax had not arrived after 12 hours.

Mr. Chen was likewise very disappointed (and somewhat taken aback) when he wanted my personal information and I refused to give it to him, saying that I would call him back if the fax did not go through. (It’s an 800 number, so I say run up their phone bill on this one.)

I’ve heard of true monthly mobile Internet (on an account you set up with the company) through one of the cell phone companies (not Taiwan Dageda nor Chunghwa, but I forget which one). Anyone successfully gotten THAT service? Obviously they’ll want a guarantor (which doesn’t make sense for a service that is flat-fee for unliminted use and has no potential for abuse, does it? :wink: ) but…


I don’t know anything about the service. But my guess would be it is possibly there way to stop people abusing it.

For instance if the 1hr card expries after that time you only get what you pay for. With 1 month unlimited you could potentially give the username & password to all your friends, officeworkers, fellow students, fellow forumosans, etc.


They should still have the technical ability to turn the service off immediately in case of a double log-in. I’ve had that happen in the states plenty of times on accidental double-log-ins.

The main thing that irritates me is that the people who sell the cards have no clue about what is required – they make you think you just scratch the coating off the card, enter the password and you’re on the Net. Not so.

[quote=“ironlady”]They should still have the technical ability to turn the service off immediately in case of a double log-in. I’ve had that happen in the states plenty of times on accidental double-log-ins.[/quote]Does the wireless card have a MAC address. They could use that to tie the account to a single computer.
I don’t see how them having your ID number would stop abuse.

The “cards” are really just paper cards with a scratch-off place that has a username and password. So I guess it’s not tied to any specific computer. But there’s no way I’m giving my passport copy to get a $600, one-month internet account. Not to mention all the other information.

Maybe we should create a generic foreigner, mock up a passport for him, and post his info on a Web site for download…then everyone just uses his passport copy (I’m sure a .gif file would do nicely!) :laughing:

What is the specific law and article number?

Well…er…um…unfortunately it seems that the fax Mr. Chen promised me has “gone astray” or something, as it has not arrived. I am still quivering with surprise and outrage that this should be so. (NOT!) :unamused:

I personally believe that despite the protestations on their “privacy policy” page in Chinese, which say that they won’t sell the information to anyone, etc. etc., they are data-mining. It’s a prepaid card, for Pete’s sake. If you needed an ID, guarantor (that’ll be next, I’m sure) etc. to use an IF card for a cell phone, no foreigner would buy THOSE either.

It’s interesting to note that they offer the Chunghwa ADLS application forms on their download page…a little collusion going on here??? Why would one company, which ostensibly offers ADSL on its own (in addition to their cards) help another one to sell the identical service?? Or am I just marketing-impaired or something??

Their customer “service” line number is 0800-289-888. Since it’s their dime, I say call early, call often. :laughing:

I don’t see the difference between going to an internet cafe and paying the people there for several hours use of a computer there IN ADVANCE. I don’t have to provide any registration at such places, nor do I have to fill out any forms.

Of course, I get a lot of strange stares when I am logging on to and making posts in English when everyone else is playing computer games, but that is a minor problem . . . . . . . .

Any updates on this issue? I think I’m getting this card in the next couple of days as an extra to the laptop I bought. It’s good for three years, which is nice, but I’m still not sure I want to give my dog’s name and shoe size to strangers…