Types of Store Clerks in Taiwan [A 外國人 Perspective]

Think store clerk in a mall, but I’ve also had these interesting experiences at 7/11 or FamilyMart. Needless to say, they’re usually very helpful regardless, and more than 80% of the time they fit the last category :blush:

  • The Mute: Will not say a word to you, even if you speak to them in fluent Mandarin. They will not even mention the total price of the items you purchased or say 謝謝. But, rest assured, they will regain their speaking abilities when the next local customer arrives.

  • The Blind: You will make eye contact and ask a question in fluent Mandarin but they will respond your Taiwanese friend/partner standing beside you instead. Ouch.

  • The Flatterer/Motivator: 你的中文很好呀,你來台灣多久了?The classic…

  • The Polyglot: They will respond to your question (raised in Mandarin) by replying in English (usually broken).

  • The Normal: Will treat you like they treat other Taiwanese customers :blush:

Curious about what other experiences you’ve had?


This is irritating. Especially when they return change, fapiao, and even credit card to your Taiwanese friend/partner!

I’ll add The Mime to the list: insists on doing an elaborate mime act of patently obvious things (bag, straw, fork, knife, microwave, etc) despite having a conversation in Mandarin.


I find it interesting how in Taiwan, a lot of store clerks get visibly distressed when they serve me (presumably because I’m a foreigner and my Chinese isn’t very good, though it’s good enough for most transactions) and go through all the kinds of hoops described above to in an attempt to alleviate their distress. But in Japan, which is so close and similar to Taiwan in many ways, the clerks don’t seem to care and just talk to everyone in Japanese regardless of whether the customer understands or not.


Forgot to add this. The hand gestures are so off-putting.

There’s also the “slow talker” that talks at 5 words per minute even if you speak at native speed.


I thought this was going to be about foreigners working as store clerks in Tawain

125 dB huang ling….greetings at 711.

This is an interesting post

In Beijing department stores clerks were assigned a square area in typical rigid Confucian fashion. If you stood with them in one square and pointed to an item a couple meters away in another square they’d get flustered 不不不

In Shida’s books you may remember the books say Chinese did not figure out on their own the obvious : to smile at customer.

McDonald’s brought that idea to Taiwan


I don’t think I ever really encounter the mute, but the blind and the polyglot show up sometimes. I would say 95% are normal though for me.

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The Mime is the worst IMHO.
Drives me nuts.


Being a store clerk is not seen as a high standard job in Taiwan which in the right opposite in the way that it is one of the hardest job to do. Dealing with people which can be annoying and the rush hours and million things to handle at once. So the clerks there eventually gets fed up and dont bother with anything. They are there just for the sake of paying bills or students working part time and also they get tired of annoying customers. All that accumulate and eventually some clerks cant hide that frustation and it shows in their behavior and body language.
But still some people act very professional and will greet very happily no matter what

The cute 20 something girl with the bob cut at my local 7-11. I speak English to her, which she understands perfectly and she answers in Mandarin because she’s not confident in speaking. We had a very fun exchange this evening and two of the customers waiting behind thought it was amazing. I spoke English to her, she answered in Mandarin and the world continued to spin. Ha.


My favorite is the mime whose gestures make absolutely no sense, often accompanied by weird sounds instead of a human language. “你要不要講隨便任何一個語言?” (“do you want to speak any random language?”) usually sends them running instead of encouraging them to speak.

OP forgot the clerks that physically pull their coworker in front of them as a human shield. Happens a lot at walk up places like bubble tea stands.


And the weird giggling…

The one that gets me is the ‘bag’ mime. Actually they do that to Taiwanese too a little but it’s really annoying when I’m talking to them and they start doing that to me.

Overall most clerks just behave normally but there’s a certain subset…

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Back a year ago when COVID was ramping up more, you had the mask Nazi, too. Taiwan’s version of the soup Nazi. You can still find an occasional bus driver who likes this persona.

That’s the one I get the most. They usually don’t bother with the straw, spoon, chopstick mimes. It’s always the fucking bag mime.


Same, how is this a thing?

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You just created a worm hole

The ladies at RT-Mart Jingping (Zhonghe District, New Taipei City) are always in good spirits for some reason, despite being in the basement of a building with a horrible entrance area (escalator has not been running for a few years!!!; hopefully the PX-Mart takeover can fix that.)

Yesterday, one of the ladies saw me buying a styroroam board for swimming and said out of the blue in Chinese, “You are right, summer is the time for swimming.” Then, after handing me back the credit card, she said: “Dadaocheng fireworks coming up on the 30th, but you can watch at home, the same, ha ha!”

Another time another lady told me: “Yeah, those chicken rolls there are really delicious.” I told here: “You are really quick! (scanning those codes).” She replied: “Nah, I am OK, the fastest one is over there (pointing at another cashier lady).” Apparently they have some kind of competition go on. Love it when people are happy at work.



I would add the “mentally disabled”, which talks to you really sloooowly in Chinese.
Yyiiii baaaaiiii yuuaaaann. Xieeee xiiieeeeee.

And it’s harder to understand the clerk compared to talking normal.

Please name a country where a store clerk is seen as a high standard job.