Mobile phone, foreigner price

I went shopping for a mobile yesterday and was informed at every shop that, as a foreigner, the bottom end Nokia (3310 or something) would be 4100 NT, not about 1600 NT as for Taiwanese, and I would have to pay for time through pre-paid phone cards rather than signing a contract with a Taiwanese phone company for phone use. (The two are connected I think, it seems like you get the cheap price on the phone by simultaneously committing to a particular phone carrier…)

I have an ARC and I had thought that, with it, I could sign with a phone carrier and get the cheap deal on the mobile. Does anybody know? Is that only if you have a permanent residency? Is that never, for a waiguoren?

As to my understanding the price for cellphones are usually higher for a foreigner since there is not guarantee. Taiwanese people usually sign a contract that asks the person to pay a certain amount each month for a year or two which include the cellphone and a line, a minimum wage you can choose between 66-600NT, I think, that is counted with the amount of time you spend talking.

You might be able to get a cellphone at a cheaper price if you buy a second hand phone or ask a Taiwanese friend to sponsor you.

The cheaper price is because you are signing up for a 2-year contract with a phone company so they’re subsidising your phone. There’s actually nothing discriminatory about that. If Taiwanese want to simply upgrade their phones and keep their old accounts they have to pay the higher price too. What is a bit discriminatory is that (I think) they don’t let foreigners get an account anymore (and so take advantage fo the low prices) unless they have a guarantor.


Jonathan, check out this this thread relating to the issue of guarantors. I, too, had a looong running battle with Taiwan Da-Ge-Da/Taiwan Fixed Line Network about the guarantor issue, but I eventually won. What you need to do is start plowing through the ranks of management, taking names, positions and telephone numbers, until you get to a person who has the power to help you. A lot of people will say they can’t help you and that “that’s the way things are”. Ask them if they have the power to affect change. When they say “Bao Qian”, get the name and number of their supervisor and don’t waste any more of your time. Or their time, for that matter. If you’re trying to use Taiwan De-Ge-Da (Taiwan Cellualar Corp), or its new offshoot, Taiwan Fixed Line Network, you need to talk to a Margaret Zheng, who is a manager in the customer service department. She has a lot of minions who screen carefully, so it will be an effort. Another nice touch is to offer to go to their head office on Renai Road in the Fubon Bank Building between Anhe Road and Yenji Street and talk to them in person. The prospect generally horrifies them. I was finally informed by Ms. Zheng that they would accept my payment through direct withdrawal from my bank account in lieu of a guarantor. I didn’t really see how this offered them any protection, but I agreed. Be nice, take names, and don’t give up!

Chungwha Telecom will give me an account on a 6-month basis; they say 2-year accounts, with a promotional discount on the da ge da, can only be given to Taiwanese. Reasoning that I am more likely to leave Taiwan and they would have less chance of enforcing a contract if I did. They didn’t mention a guarantor though.
Question: Should I settle for this? (Given my Chinese is not good enough for negotiation; my only option is to find English speakers there to talk with.)

And question: does anyone know specifically what one’s obligations are under the 2-year contract one signs for a promotional discount? Are you required to keep using the account for 2 years, and if so, what is the consequence if I DO leave Taiwan during that time, and therefore stop using the account? And then if I want to return on a later date?

And question: does anyone know specifically what one’s obligations are under the 2-year contract one signs for a promotional discount?

To avail of a 2 year contract, you must primarily have a Taiwanese guarantor. In my case, I bought a mobile fone at an extremely cheap promo price! There are no connection fees since I’m automatically subscribed to the Far Eastern Telecoms Co. There is a flat rate of about NT180 for my monthly dues plus addtional fees depending on my usage. The monthly billing is automatically charged to my credit card (in Taiwan) and debited to my bank account (also in Taiwan).

Are you required to keep using the account for 2 years, and if so, what is the consequence if I DO leave Taiwan during that time, and therefore stop using the account? And then if I want to return on a later date?

Yes. You are tied up for 2 years. If you break the contract, you have to pay for the cost of the telephone unit (with graduated prices depending on the length of time you used it.) If you leave Taiwan and stopped using the account, they will run after your guarantor. That’s why a Taiwanese guarantor is needed. I would suggest that you continue to pay for the flat monthly rate so when you indeed come back, then your contract will not be terminated. And thus you can continue enjoying your mobile fone use.
I guess it’s only through the flat monthly rate that the mobile fone company and the service provider can recoup whatever discount they gave you during your subscription. Plain and simple marketing strategy.

Mobile phone companies have to charge a base to pay for their infrastructure (billions and billions) and to make sure unused accounts are deactivated. Even so, there are 18 million accounts in Taiwan and only 10 million are collecting money.

Maoman: You gave them access to siphon funds from your bank account? What recourse do you have if someone gets you drunk, wha-hoos your SIM card, chats up all their overseas acquaintances and 0204 babes, loads a bunch of boogers on the already abused SIM card, and slips it back into your phone? Come the end of the month and your balance is 30,000 too low and the boogers have grown mold. That unpleasant scenario could be the caption under your rage photo.

I have an account with TCC and no co-signer, but that’s coming on 18months old. Pretty much I’m treated like a human by their billing and CRM departments. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

I already have a phone and am planning to come and work in Taiwan in the autumn. What is the price (roughly) for a contract on the best network and do you get inclusive minutes ? Are the promotions just to subsidise the cost of the handset (which I don’t need) and is there a deposit. (I will have an ARC)


For those watching the foreigner-guaranator drama in cell phone contracts, since I have a little too much free time this week, I’m calling up various and sundry cell phone companies and pushing up the food chain to find out what the REAL policy on foreigners is.

First victim: Hehsin.
(I was told by a person selling cell phones that Hehsin “absolutely would not issue a contract” to any foreigners, and that we must use pre-paid cards.)
Level 1: Asked whether I was an Overseas Chinese. Asked her what difference that would make. She had no answer. Told that a foreigner needs a passport, ARC, copy of the employer’s business license and some kind of letter stating how long the foreigner would be working for the company, but that with these docs a contract could be issued. Asked to speak to her supervisor.

Level 2: Speaking with Miss Liu, the deal changed somewhat. As far as she is concerned, a foreigner (not a “laborer” – she definitely has two completely separate categories in mind, which I don’t particularly like but I guess there’s not much I can do about it) needs only an ARC and his/her passport. BUT he/she should go to the real Hehsin store at #43 Kuanchien Rd. (near the train station in Taipei) and the ARC should have at least 6 months’ validity left.

No mention of guarantors was made, nor of employment verification.

Stay tuned for more annoyance calls to other major Taiwanese carriers. (This is more fun than speaking to innocent English students in Spanish!)


Please see a related discussion at

Chunghwa is OK, but I think the idea I had was that I wanted the freedom to choose ANOTHER company rather than Chunghwa, and get the same deal any other financially solvent person would be offered. I can’t think of anything to tell Chunghwa (other than drop those rates on the outgoing cell calls on their not-so-aptly named “ru yi” card!) but will keep mulling over the question.