Need people to talk about their problems dealing with CH Telecom/Other telecom

Hi all,

this is Debby Wu from Taipei Times. I am TT’s reporter who’s in charge of foreign communities.
Recently I’ve got someone from forumosa filing a complaint against CH Telecom about having to get a Taiwanese guarantor when applying for a landline. I have talked to CH Telecom about this, and they have confirmed the new policy has been running since last November or so. Basically they attribute the policy to the reason that often foriengers would not pay up the phone bills in the last month of their stay in Taiwan, and leave a huge bad debt for CH Telecom. So they decided it was safer to have a Taiwanese guarantor who needs to pay up if the foreigner doesn’t.

I heard that TWNGSM (Taiwan Ta Ko Ta) had a similar policy and would talk to them later.
I wonder whether anyone else on forumosa has something to say about this. If so, please drop me a line here or at We’ll see whether we can make a good story about this.



If that’s their “reasoning,” you could ask them why foreigners with permanent residence here or who live here with their Taiwanese wives and families also need a guarantor. You might also ask them how this policy ties in with the government’s efforts to attract investors and businessmen here. It must be pretty difficult to do business if the halfwitted pricks in charge won’t even let you have a fucking telephone.

You might to talk to Ironlady about that. Here’s a thread that goes a little off topic … sc&start=0

I agree with what Sandman says, Will you be asking them why those foreigners who obviously won’t leave soon are discriminated against ?

Debby, I’m sure we could find more stories like that that will keep you busy for a long time to come… Banks… Taipei County etc…

Whilst we were happy to see your last piece, we were disappointed that there was no investigation, no comments from anyone in the government… Or can’t you get a straight answer from them either ?

You might also want to ask them if they think policies such as this will help bring in more (sorely needed) foreign investment.

I’d also be curious to know the total amount of outstanding bills foreigners owe, and how this compares to the local rate and amount of outstanding bills.

This is very interesting. I can remember when one bushiban I worked at went bankrupt, and the Chinese staffers spent the last day making intl. phone calls to their friends.

You need to ask them why they don’t use risk assessment techniques for extending credit. You need to ask them why they don’t apply a credit limit. But more importantly, you need to ask the government why this kind of thing is allowed to happen, and how the Taiwanese government would respond if all Taiwanese resident abroad were suddenly require to go through the same process.

In my case, I was willing to pay up front and in full for my ADSL and have outgoing calls blocked. So much for their “argument”.

things i’d like to be able to access after four years in taiwan:

a telephone in my house (they want a two year lease, ARC’s are ony 1).
i bought a computer but can’t get the internet installed (ditto above).
i came here immediately upon graduating from university, never had a card back home. my bank here “can’t” issue me a debit card despite the fact that i have an account with them.
i am a legal teacher but don’t have a health card. last time i went to the hospital they refused to help me.
i would like to by a new mobile handset. shops all refuse to sell me a phone package
IF card is kind of expensive (20 NT/minute). i would like to be able to pay the same rates as taiwan people pay within their cellphone packages.

I’m not in this situation, being mostly deaf and all! But I would like to thank Ms. Wu for taking an interest in our problems.

Part of it does indeed seem to be discrimination. Taiwan institutions of all types seem to prefer foreigners to be attached to some local guardian, and the government is the worst offender. (Marriage to a local gets you privileges that nothing else will.) I think this ultimately stems from a certain sense of “us” and “them.” Which is natural, but frustrating and inconvenient for those of us outside the (rather inflexible) circle.

Interestingly, the liberal Western concept that needless discrimination is morally suspicious has not caught on here. (California practically makes it illegal to discriminate against illegal aliens!) Nor are Taiwanese generally sympathetic to problems faced by people they have no relationship with.

Another part of the problem does seem to be based on fuzzy logic. I doubt that ABC’s get this kind of treatment, even though the “flight risk” ought to be similar. The problem is compounded by Taiwanese’ tendency not to be straight-forward about their reasons. We never really know what “the book” (or, the law) really says.

Yet another probably comes from practical problems–like if the computers won’t handle the exceptions they’d have to make, or if they simply don’t want the extra trouble. This sort of thing often happens in other contexts. (Just think how much people here would bitch and scream if they had to make provisions for the handicapped!)

So, can / should society make them do these things they don’t want to do anyway, for the sake of the people who would otherwise unfairly suffer? Or should we suffer for the sake of their freedom of action, and a smaller government? Tough call.


Thank you for taking the time to ask us our opinions.

One thing you may want to bring to CHT’s attention is the fact that any Taiwanese living in the USA whether on a visa or a greencard does not have to have a guarantor to install a landline. I’d love to see some statistics about how many of them returned to Taiwan without paying their last months phone bill, I’m sure the percentage is much higher due to the fact there are more Taiwanese living in the US than there are Americans living in Taiwan. I’d also be curious to know what the policy is in other countries. It would make for great news if the USA decided, based on Taiwan’s policy, to also request Taiwanese to have a guarantor. Debbie this is a simple serive CHT should provide in order for a smooth transition to foreigners moving to Taiwan, by insisting on having a guarantor they immeidately ruin any positive image. Why is it I can open my own bank account and P.O. Box without a guarantor but can’t have a telephone? Maybe this is too logical?

Sandman brings up a good point, what about those foreigners who have lived in Taiwan for many many years and are either permanent residence or are married to a local.

hexuan also brings up a good point, what if we were willing to pay CHT up front 1000NT per month, or they set a limit of 1000NT per month extendable after we pay the first NT1000? Is this too easy?

I would like to know the actual costs that CHT incurs for unpaid bills? Is it possible to calculate the actual price per phone call? I’m sure if I run away without paying a 2,000NT bill, that CHT doesn’t actually lose 2,000NT. If it’s all domestic calls, then the probably don’t pay a whole lot at all because they own all the hardware. Maybe you could put a deposit down on international call services.

While you are investigating, perhaps you could look into just exactly what that “maintainance fee” is that they always have on the fixed-line phone bills (are they still putting that on?) I know somebody who called the company and asked what the charge was for, and the person said “you had work done on your phone line.” My friend did not have work done, and neither did I, and yet it would appear every month. The Chinese web pages and emails went crazy with this topic, but I never saw news reports.

If your investigations take you into some bank topics in the future, I’d love to know why I now have to bring my renewed ARC card in to my bank every year just to have the priveledge of withdrawing on my Taiwan bank when I’m in foreign countries. They didn’t start the policy until the beginning of last year (when I arrived in Thailand with little money). There was also notification whatsoever.

Debby–I think you should do a whole series of exposes related to stricter laws regarding foreigners in Taiwan. I notice new regulations sprouting up like “bamboo shoots after the rain”, and it drives me up the f-ing wall. Ask the government if they are really serious about increasing tourism to Taiwan (by two-fold or three-fold) by 2008. Are they being realistic? I spent a year in China (of all places) and found many of the visa/residency issues a lot simpler, cheaper and easier.

I am adamant that we deserve the same “privileges” as Chinese customers, period.

The Taiwanese were very quick to eliminate reciprocity on drivers’ licenses when certain US states (gasp!) made Taiwanese people actually take a driving test to get a license. OK, fair enough. But since anyone can get a phone line in my country and needs no guarantor (and the Americans would be the first ones picketing the phone company if it were the case that any group was required to have a guarantor – even if that group thought it was no big deal!) this is NOT RECIPROCITY.

I do not think we should “agree” to put up a deposit not required for Taiwanese. A Taiwanese can leave the country without paying bills just as easily as a foreigner can – in fact more easily in many cases. Do you have any idea how easy it is to get a foreigner detained at the airport and denied exit?? (The answer, BTW, is “extremely easy”.)

Any fair, consistently-applied and reasonable policy is OK by me. But do NOT tell me that I was an acceptable customer for eight years, and now I suddenly am not. My status, my earning power, etc. are all the same or better than before. I am 39 years old, I have a Ph.D, and I’ve lived in Taiwan for quite a few years, paying phone bills, Internet, pagers (when they were the thing) and cell phones all along the way. I am offended. If I could NOT use Chunghwa for ANYTHING, I would be far happier.

I have asked for figures, statistics, proof, on numerous occasions (I’ve spent hours with these people). I finally found ONE person in the Hsinchuang office who agreed that it was racial discrimination (national origin, whatever – no convenient term, really, except “xenophobia”, which is what it is.) Forget about the Ren-ai Road branch…they’re indoctrinated to the max.

And while we’re at it, let’s go after PHS – they won’t even let a foreigner have a PHS line with a Taiwanese guarantor!! (“Company policy,” they chime sweetly.)

Maybe this is a little off-topic, but I’ve found CHT really hard to work with.

  1. When we were in Taipei it seemed easier to retain the landlord’s phoneline, but we wanted broadband.
    CHT said only the owner of the phoneline could apply for the broadband service, even though we, as the tenants, would be paying for both the phoneline and the broadband. So the property agent asked the landlord to apply for broadband in his name, and we’d pay for everything…
    BUT, CHT wouldn’t give us the password for the broadband service because we weren’t the owners of the phoneline. It took a lot of ranting and raving before someone enlightened enough quietly let us have it.
    Then, I wanted an email address, and since the broadband package came with one in my husband’s name, my husband suggested that CHT just transfer that to me, changing the user name to mine in passing. CHT said that since we weren’t the owners of the phoneline nothing could be done. (The service staff did suggest that we forge a seal and pretend).
    Strangely enough, I could apply for a separate email address with no problem. The other email address was never used though we paid for it every month. That took up nearly half of our ADSL bill but since the landlord didn’t care to traipse back and forth on our behalf, that was that.

  2. Then I wanted to get myself a mobile number. Everything had been finalised, until I handed over my ARC. Oh no, said CHT, we don’t give mobile phone subscriptions to foreigners. So I got mine from Far Eastone instead (PS, it costs about the same as the IF card so postpaid isn’t cheaper). There is a deposit, but I remember it wasn’t much. FET has great service even though it doesn’t have the coverage that CHT has, and probably not the prices as well. I did want CHT to begin with, but it didn’t want me.

  3. Then we were going away for Chinese New Year and I decided to pre-pay all utility bills, including the phone bill and my email bill. The water company was ok with it, the gas company was ok, the electricity was fine. So was Far Eastone, by the way. BUT not CHT. CHT said that they didn’t accept pre-payments, even though they don’t give you much time to pay your bill. The service staff kindly said that I wouldn’t be so very late by the time I got back, so why not just come down to their offices and pay when I got back instead.

[quote=“Screaming Jesus”]Another part of the problem does seem to be based on fuzzy logic. I doubt that ABC’s get this kind of treatment, even though the “flight risk” ought to be similar. The problem is compounded by Taiwanese’ tendency not to be straight-forward about their reasons. We never really know what “the book” (or, the law) really says.

Yes, ABCs do get this treatment. Anyone w/o an ROC citizenship gets this treatment. I’m Taiwanese, but hold a foreign passport and ARC. Getting credit cards is a pain in the ass, and I needed guarantors. I couldn’t get a cellphone except for prepaid plans. They didn’t even give me the option of having a guarantor, so my cellphones are in my friend’s names. At least I was able to get landline phone and ADSL, because when I signed up, the guarantor policy wasn’t in effect yet. I also got raped on auto insurance because I was a “new driver”.

Of course, it doesn’t matter that in my home country I have spotless credit, decent credit lines, and have been driving for 13 years. I don’t know if it’s because of pressure from China or what, that things are so domestically limited in scope, but a lot of these systems in Taiwan would benefit from more internationalization. I suppose I could understand if my home country was a backward or 3rd world country, but that’s not the case.

I’m going to write to some policymakers in my home country, and see what the feasibility of lobbying for something like this is. My brother worked for some policymakers over the summer, and I’m going to see if we can get the right questions asked in the proper places.

I think this is the only way that things might get better. When getting phones, credit cards, etc, suddenly gets a lot more difficult for the numerous Taiwanese living there, they’ll complain. Then, the answer they’ll get is “that’s the treatment our citizens get in Taiwan, please complain to your government or home bank/phone company”. Perhaps when enough Taiwanese complain to the Taiwan government/banks/phone companies, then maybe someone will look into this. Right now, foreigners make up such a small part of their business, they really have no reason to do anything about it, and have the take it or leave it attitude.

My Beef with CHT is as follows:
Last year, I decided to simplify my various payments : Phone, Credit cards, Club etc by having them direct debitted from my bank account each month. This saves me making cash or electronic payments each month.
All has worked well with this except for CHT. First of all it took them ages to set up . Then, at the beginning of this year I had a big withdrawal ( over US$1,000)from my bank from CHT. It turned out to be an error.
I use my home phone for conference calls with the states but these are charged to the company & had already been paid.
CHT admitted they had made an error in charging my personal account with the large bill. I was calm & said mistakes happen, please put the money back int my account today & we’ll forget about it . Here is the rub,thier reply was , no we are sorry we cannot refund this money until next month ie They would not refund until the next billing date in 4 weeks

I was livid. They had mistakenly taken over US$1,ooo out of my bank & then having admitted thier mistake held onto my money for 4 weeks !!

My secretary who is normally somewhat of a tiger in extracting money , discounts etc from vendors , shrugged her shoulders at this one & said there was nothing I could do as that was CHT…

i think a pretty important aspect of this discrimination (and i do agree that it is unfair discrimination plain and simple) is that the taiwanese government’s constant, blundering attempts to internationalize taiwan and make it more attractive to foreigners and foreign investment is constantly in a state of dilemma… the reason being, they would sincerely love to make taiwan more open to foreigners, but only the “right” type of foreigners… whilst they would like nothing more than to bend over backwards to afford their beloved american “friends” any privileges or services imaginable, they at the same time need to make sure they can deny such privilege to citizens of nations they consider “undesirable”, ie. Philippino, Indonesian, Thai, Chinese citizens… it is the same problem that causes the inconsistency, disorganization and incompetence inherent in anything related to the taiwan foreign affairs dept. eg. ARCs, JFRVs, work visas, document authentification etc. rather than be open and straightforward about their racist or at least “culturalist” agenda, and have one standard for citizens of “desirable” nations and another for “undesirable” nations… they choose the easier route of blanket discrimination against anyone and everyone who isn’t an ROC citizen… as for their much toted system of “reciprocity”… well that’s a farce at best, and at worst a cheap, dishonest, underhanded ploy to gain diplomatic face albeit on a meaningless and asinine level… they will only ever adhere to this system “reciprocity” in situations where it is greatly in Taiwan’s favor to do so, however if citizens of a foreign country demand the same treatment afforded to Taiwanese citizens by their governments by virtue of this “reciprocity” it is ignored and swept under the carpet… personally i vote to change the name to “Taiwan BROC - banana republic of china”…

The foreign community in Taiwan should draw up a very simple list of rights that we DO NOT HAVE, and post it somewhere. Should we start a new thread? And when this list is complete, it can be edited and posted in its entirety somewhere on Forumosa. That way foreigners who live here (or are considering moving here) can have an easy idea of what rights we do/don’t have. This could also be easily downloaded, or passed on to Mayor Ma, President Chen, various big-mouth legislators, MOFA, the local media etc. We could all sign it. Does something like this already exist? Or should we start one here? How would we go about compiling/signing it? Could we make a master list of people that this forumosa manifesto should be sent to?

Not a bad idea scooter. Why don’t you start this as a new topic int he human rights forum?

I would suggest a format like this
RIGHT Regular ARC holders
Foreign Spouses
APRC holders
And then rather than a yes/no for each category a range including: denied by law / denied by regulation / denied by widespread company policy / allowed, but in practice very difficult to get - or something like that.


I had no problem getting a land line and ADSL from CHT, although I happened to be teaching at their HO on RenAi/XinYi Rd at the time. My lease was a bit dodgy too, as I was also subletting. It’s in my name now, and the landlord didn’t enquire about whether my ARC permitted me to be in the country until the end of the contract.

DaGeDa needed a guarantor, but then I couldn’t get a mobile account in the USA eithout a credit history and social security number either. The deposit required in the US without a guarantor was immense, US$1000, and bore no relationship to the cost of the handset, or the size of bill I could potentially run up.

In Taiwan I can buy beer without producing my Drivers Licence - a passport has proven unacceptable in several bars in the USA, because the law stipulates that only a locally issued DL is considered proof that a 37 yr old man is old enough to drink. Although the state of Oregon issued my DL over the counter, California took about four months and I was pretty damn thirsty by the end of that time. They had to confirm my residency status with the INS first. Having got it, it’s all I use - the Taiwan police seem happy to accept it on the few occasions when they feel the need to talk to me.

The harbor police also accept my CA licence as ID when I go sailing. It hasn’t been endorsed to show that I’m allowed to be in Taiwan, and their job is to prevent illegal immigration. Go figure.

As a relative newbie (June 2002) I’m fairly happy with how I have been treated so far, but things will change if I’m still unable to get a credit card when I’ve been here for longer. I haven’t got around to applying for a credit card yet, but I opened my first deposit account last year with just a 60-day non-extendable visa. Again, no problem.

I remember not being able to activate my first ATM card in the USA because I didn’t have a social security number at the time.

And obtaining legal residence in Taiwan has been easier than it was in the USA. Have any foreigners here ever tried to go through that particular nightmare?

Neither place compares to Germany, or New Zealand, for ease of living and non-discrimination. Despite large immigrant/transient populations both countries seem to function perfectly well on the basis that everyone is entitled to the same services without unnecessary hassle. I’ve obtained phone lines, mobile phones, credit cards etc. in both countries without legal residence. In fact I maintain CC accounts in New Zealand, which they are happy to service while I’m overseas - see the thread on US policy towards this subject.

I’ve moved the credit card type posts here where it’s a bit easier to find them in the future:

Please continue your credit card conversation there.

Big Fluffy Moderator

Can you pay your phone bill with your credit card if you’re a foreigner?