Let's put out a hit on Chunghwa Telecom


#1

How do you feel about needing a guarantor for Chunghwa Telecom?

  • Doesn’t bother me, it’s their company, they can do what they want
  • It’s inconvenient but I don’t have a special problem with it
  • It offends me because it’s based only on national origin/non-Chinese-ness

0 voters

Lots of people have previously written in asking about the necessity of having a guarantor to obtain telecommunications services from our friendly ex-monopolistic Chunghwa Telecom. I usually answer that a guarantor is not, in fact, necessary, as that has been my experience in the past.

However, this time (a couple of days ago) I went into the “Eastern Office” on Ren’ai Rd. and requested ADSL service for my new place in Sanchong. Well, out came the guarantor form. I said politely that I have been a Chunghwa customer since 1993 and have never needed a guarantor before. The clerk insisted. I asked to go higher up the food chain. Three people later, they were still insisting on a Chinese guarantor, and saying that I could not take advantage of the special unless I had one. I could get service if I wanted to pay a sizable deposit up front (they said NT$2000, but their own form said NT$1500, which further irritated me; do you people think I can’t read, even if you can’t?)

I asked them when this “policy” had come out, and they said it was “recent”, in reaction to “events”. “You know, like after 911 in your country”, she said. (After I informed her that I saw virtually no parallel to the risk of Chunghwa getting stuck with a couple thousand NT$ worh of ADSL charges and thousands of people getting killed in a major terrorist attack, she said nothing).

I asked on what basis this policy had been imposed. She continued to claim that it had NOTHING to do with nationality (!) or race or anything else, just that “a few foreigners” have failed to pay, so now all foreigners require a guarantor. I asked if it were not the case that a few Taiwanese likewise had failed to pay, and she said, “Of course.” However, my suggestion that a guarantor be required for all accounts did not seem to please her.

I asked how she would feel if I ran a store and I refused to sell to her because “women never pay their bills” and she was a woman. She said nothing. Likewise, the concept of international reciprocity did nothing to move them.

Another interesting point was when I pointed to my cell phone (also Chunghwa Telecom, but that won’t last any longer than it takes me to switch!!) and asked if she would like a guarantor for that, too, as I was apparently now a risk, although I wasn’t a risk six months ago when I last applied for service through Chunghwa. What if I called Zimbabwe for seven or eight hours the day before leaving Taiwan, I asked? “No, you already have that,” she said. She didn’t seem to see any logical problem with the whole thing.

But the crowning point was that she insisted: “Foreigners don’t mind getting a guarantor!”

Is this so? I’d like to know how people feel about having to find a Chinese person to sign for them to get access to a public utility.


#2

I would imagine like many things in Taiwan, it is just another outlet for the Taiwanese to vent their antipathy towards foreigners. I wonder just how much of Chunghwa Telecom’s bad debt is made up of foreigners not paying their bills. A thousandth of one percent ?

I admire your valiiant attempts to use logic. I have always been amazed that despite the high scores Taiwanese students manage to get in Maths tests, all Taiwanese people I have met are completely incapable of understanding simple logic.


#3

Following that profoundly accurate observation, the temptation to diverge from the topic of this thread is tremendous.


#4

I sincerely hope that we stay on the original topic, if there is a need for a new topic based on the comment by Hexuan, then please feel free to create another one. :smiley: :wink:

Ironlady I admire your persistence in getting some sort of logical response from these people. Of course it probably didn’t do much good, but I would continue to pound them with questions until they can give you a half way decent response, even if it means going to the top.

Now as for how I feel about getting a guarantor for having service, I feel it is not necessary and ridiculous. I have had a land line since I came to Taiwan and have never had to have a guarantor. I think one could rack up more bills on a phone then they could with ADSL, don’t you think? I’d really like to know their underlying purpose to continue to not provide services to foreigners, what is the real point?


#5

This type of thing always makes me fume and all my local Taiwanese friends and family just don’t get it :smiling_imp:
I’d love to put the pinch on these companies by complaints on mass and termination of use of services :smiling_imp:


#6

I’m not disagreeing with you guys, but foreigners present a much greater “run off without paying the bill” risk. Some of your anger should be directed at scumbag foreigners who don’t pay their bills. Two of my best Taiwanese friends have been stung, and stung very badly, by unpaid bills; in both cases they were helping out foreign teachers who took full advantage of my friends’ generosity, making long long overseas calls to all their friends and family and together managing to chalk up NT25,000 in calls. Over two years ago but still makes my blood boil to think about it.


#7

Companies like this are either unwilling or unable to go through the process of calculating risk using logic and mathematics. Instead of calculating the statistical risk of a debt going bad, they require a legal guarantor which it is unlikely they will ever call upon. Let’s say there is a debt of USD500. Exactly how much money will Chunghwa Telecom spend pursuing the original creditor through the courts in order to obtain such a judgement as would allow them to pursue to guarantor at further legal expense ? Or is the guarantor is in fact jointly and severally liable in relation to the debt created by the contract for the ADSL service ? If this is the case, he is not a guarantor at all, but a party to the original contract.

I accept however that it is foolish and misguided to approach these sorts of problems (wherever they are encountered in Taiwan) by using Western logic. I have done so many times and simply come over as a difficult and obstinate foreigner, and regretted losing my rag afterwards. But it doesn’t seem there is a Taiwanese-style “fudge” for this problem, as there often is in other cases. It seems that despite being a long(ish)-term customer of theirs, they are determined to have a “guarantor” for this particular service and will not budge.


#8

This makes me REALLY angry. This is blatant discrimination based on nationality. The response of the Taiwanese (and local) communities in any truly industrialised country if such a pathetic excuse for a law were implemented would be vocal and swift, and would create a barrage of media exposes.

In Taiwan, not so. THEY don’t care if WE are treated differently in the marketplace, and THEY consider US to be racist if WE point it out. “YOU don’t understand. Things are done differently here…” To the person who was kind enough to tell me that we are all the same and there are no Taiwanese or foreigners, here is your proof. I wish it could be true and that I could wear your funky rose-coloured glasses, too.

So does anyone know of anyplace where we could vent these concerns, perhaps in the international media (hopefully there are more important things happening now…) or perhaps a petition or boycott?

Is there an alternative service (for ground lines)? The most maddening part is that long-term customers (like Ironlady, who appears to have loyaly paid her bill for ten years) are being penalised. Asking a deposit for a new line would not be so objectionable if it were:
A. applied equally to EVERYONE, not based on non-Taiwaneseness
B. applied only to new customers or those with a record of not paying bills

GRRRRRRRRR…I’m going to give myself an ulcer… :x :x :x :x


#9

This sort of thing creates the impression foreigners aren’t really all that welcome in Taiwan, that they are merely tolerated as a necessary evil, and shouldn’t be allowed to be too comfortable with credit cards, high-speed internet access, mobile phones and the like. Those little luxuries are for Taiwanese only ! I’m glad the general populace isn’t so anti-foreigner - if I thought they were I wouldn’t be heading back next week ! But this is getting ridiculous.


#10

First of all I can understand the anger that has been generated here for Chungwa. I, like many others, have been facaed with the guarontor requirement. In fact, a few months ago, I attempted to deposit large amount of money with Citizbank in Kaohsiung for investment purposes. I was told that as a foreigner I was not permitted to invest in Citibank? How does that add up to logical thinking? A foreigner can’t invest in a foriegn bank? I was told it was because I couldn’t read the investment documents and legal mumbo-jumbo. I informed them that this was not a problem, I’d just bring my wife by to translate them. They said this was no good, as I still wouldn’t understand the documents. Rather than argue with their warped logic I simply took my money where it was more appreciated, the International Chinese Bank of Commerce. Who’d have thought?

On the whole guarantor thing, however, don’t be so quick to call it racist. While I do believe that there is inherent racist attitudes behind this device, one must realize that the same methods are sometimes applied to Taiwanese themselves. My sister-in-law recently took a job that requires she handle the lau-ban’s cash. As a result, in order to get the job, she was forced to have a family member sign a guarantor document. That way if she takes off with the cash, someone will be paying it back. So it would seem to me that while guarantor’s are an illogical way of solving a problem, that perhaps they are not viewed that way here.

In addition, if the policy at Chungwa was decided by higher-ups, the subordinates are going to defend it anyway they can think of, even if it’s illogical. They’re not used to thinking about how to lie creatively, 99% of the time nobody questions their policies. Only foreigners would dare to be so troublesome!:slight_smile:


#11

Fine, if you’re taking a job as an individual handling cash, I can see it.

But I am NOT handling Chunghwa’s precious cash, and I have paid my bills ON TIME and IN FULL for almost 10 years now. I have in my possession a cell phone from them, for which they say a guarantor is not necessary simply becuase I already have it. If I had applied yesterday for a cell phone they would have demanded one.

Also, this is a PUBLIC UTILITY. Telephone service is considered so basic an item, almost a right, that there is actually a fee added to your monthly bill to ensure that the outlying areas can be served with telephone service although they do not earn money for the company. The government apparently feels strongly that all people – er, all Taiwanese nationals, at least – should have access to these things. It’s different from taking a position in a private company, one-on-one.

I spent 3 and a half hours arguing my way up the food chain on this one. Usually I wear them out with statements that “I’ll wait until his meeting is over, I’ll wait until he gets off the phone, I have nothing else to do today, no problem.” (Of course, what they want is for the nice foreigner to just go away and stop bothering them.) I was happy that I had my trusty Palm Pilot and keyboard with me, so that I just set up my mini-office and was working happily away while they were deliberating/circling the wagons. :smiling_imp: Actually I admit that I enjoy this kind of debate in a twisted sort of way. I like to mention how Taiwan is seeking more space on the international stage only to shoot herself in the foot at home, and lots of other catchy, stale phrases. :laughing:

There are some alternatives:

If you live in the right building/area, Taiwan Fixed Network (Taiwan Guwang) offers fixed-line telephone service and ADSL over those lines. That’s the only way I know of, outside of cable internet, to avoid the Chunghwa curse for internet access. I’m looking into this, obviously.

You can get ADSL service from other providers, but ANNOYINGLY, behind them always lurks the spectre of Chunghwa. I almost signed with Sony for ADSL, but after getting through THEIR agreement (1 year), they told me I would have to sign for 2 years with…you guessed it…Chunghwa. I walked out. Why should I have to commit to 2 years with them when I sign only for 1 year of internet service with the provider??

The absolutely worst things is that even my pathetic Chunghwa dialup service no longer works from my new home in Sanchong. Sheesh!!

I am thinking of blanket bombing the Chinese papers with letters to the editor about this; maybe one or two might make it into print (but I doubt it). If anybody has any other ideas about making noise about this, I’ll be on the front lines. I’m really annoyed now. :x


#12

I think that it is a racist policy - see this post from a year and a half ago…Now my ADSL and telephone line are both in my name, but I’m using Seednet/Zhonghua (Chunghwa). BTW, Seednet’s customer service has been extremely good.

Keep fighting, and make in-person visits. Take full names of people you deal with and find out what their job titles are, their contact information (telephone extensions) and who their immediate supervisor is and what that person’s contact info is. Stay polite and never, ever give up. Persistence pays off in the end. :sunglasses:


#13

I don’t ever remember needing a guarantor (unless you count the NT$2000 I paid) when I got my line about 3 years ago. I find that things go smoother at banks, government offices, etc., when I wear a serious suit as opposed to the jeans and t-shirt I would prefer. What REALLY bothers me about the phone company is that in older apartments it is so easy for outsiders to get into the wire boxes and tap lines.


#14

I pretty much agree with you, but just to play devil’s advocate, here’s how I think they could argue it logically:

In Taiwan the way to chase up bad debts is through family members using the household registration system. I’m sorry, but as you are not a citizen, and don’t have household registration we have no way of chasing up on your debts should you default. Of course this has nothing to do with your personal likelihood to default, but on our ability to chase the bad debt should it happen. Of course, it also has nothing to do with your country of origin. Were you to receive Taiwanese citizenship and household registration you would not require a guarantor. Please understand that we are trying to be flexible here. Other services, such as credit cards, and store purchases on credit are not available to people without household registration at all. As we realise that phone services are an essential utility we have introduced a gauarantor system to ensure that the services are available to all. I know you didn’t require a guarantor in the past, but this is a new service introduced to provide consistency in the way that service are offered to people without household registration. Whereas in the past we had no set policy and different branches and divisions would have treated you differently, perhaps giving you no service at all, we now have clear regulations, sop that everybody is given equal treatment. Of course as you bought your cellphone before we implemented the new policy, it is covered by the policies in place at the time. Were you to buy another one today you would require a guarantor. Just remember, it’s not because you are a foreigner, but because you don’t have household registration. Thank you. Have a nice day.

Brian


#15

Do you think it would help if one of us brought this thread or the information in this thread to the media’s attention?


#16

It’s about time someone in the government was asked to comment on this. Can you imagine the cries a racism and discrimination and bewilderment in the UK if British Telecom refused to put in phone lines for foreigners in London ?

I would like to hear Taiwan’s equivalent of a Foreign Minister answer the following question: “Do you not realise that Taiwan’s international reputation depends almost exclusively on the reports back home of the foreigners living there, and do you not care about the damage to Taiwan’s reputation as a place to live and do business which is going to be caused by hundreds of foreign residents reporting home that foreigners cannot now even get telephone lines ? Who on earth would come to live or do business in a country which will not even provide a telephone line to a foreigner ?”


#17

[quote]In Taiwan the way to chase up bad debts is through family members using the household registration system.
[/quote]

Does Taiwan/ROC law then permit holding a relative responsible for the debts incurred by a family member, even if no special guarantee was signed by same? I sincerely doubt it. It might be easier for them to put pressure on, but I doubt that they could legally hold a third party responsible, relative or no.

If Chunghwa is so worried about bad debts, why not make EVERYONE put down a guarantor?

Perhaps I shouldn’t pay taxes, then, because I’m not entitled to public services in the same form as others? Yet I probably pay more tax than the average Taiwanese due to my higher income bracket.

The bottom line is: you can get cell phone services through other companies without a guarantor, and that’s where people are going to go. As Taiwan Fixed Network (Taiwan Guwang) expands its coverage, that’s where I’m gonna go. It’s getting so I don’t even want to use a pay phone lest I give another couple of NT$ to Chunghwa.

More space on the international stage my pigu!! :smiling_imp:


#18

When I was in London 5 years ago, many Aussies, NZers etc couldn’t even get bank accounts becuase they had to have proof of stable residence in order to do so. It was inconveient but hardly racist.

As for the policies of Chunghwa and all the banks that don’t allow ‘foreigners’ credit, I do think that there is some underlying racism there in that theese institutions don’t think the inconvenience ot foreigners is anything they shoudl do about, BUT they can quite easily argue that it is not racist at all. The discrimination has to do with whether or not you have houshold registration. That’s what they can say anyway.

Brian


#19

[quote=“hexuan”]Companies like this are either unwilling or unable to go through the process of calculating risk using logic and mathematics. Instead of calculating the statistical risk of a debt going bad, they require a legal guarantor which it is unlikely they will ever call upon. Let’s say there is a debt of USD500. Exactly how much money will Chunghwa Telecom spend pursuing the original creditor through the courts in order to obtain such a judgement as would allow them to pursue to guarantor at further legal expense ? Or is the guarantor is in fact jointly and severally liable in relation to the debt created by the contract for the ADSL service ? If this is the case, he is not a guarantor at all, but a party to the original contract.
[/quote]
perhaps they could simply mail the guarantor the bill and an explanation of why it was sent? I’m sure many people knowing they had signed the guarantee would pay.

i have mixed feelings about it. i have no doubt that they get foreigners from all over who run off on their bills, and more than you might think. obviously they have much less recourse in such a situation than if a local person did not pay their bill. we honest types have to pay the price for this. on the other hand, it does make you feel shabby and they are being insensitive to those feelings on a very large scale. i would make my feelings known about it too if i were there. perhaps if enough people do they will rethink their position. the press? i’m sure most local people would see the logic of the former argument above than the latter. as for me, i have a built-in guarantor in this case–my wife :slight_smile: so i won’t have to deal with it. maybe other similar things will come up for me in the future though.


#20

[quote=“hexuan”]
I admire your valiiant attempts to use logic. I have always been amazed that despite the high scores Taiwanese students manage to get in Maths tests, all Taiwanese people I have met are completely incapable of understanding simple logic.[/quote]

hexuan, when I speak to my Taiwanese friends about these issues (e.g. the difficulty in applying for and being approved for credit cards, the annual ARC physical and other requirements, the need for a guarantor for public utilities), most of them feel that these policies are unfair and illogical. I think I can judge the difference between simply sympathizing with me to save my face and genuine outrage. Most of my friends are outraged.

Here’s hoping that your next stay in Taiwan yields some friendships with people who think clearly and logically. They are here.