Wrong number

I get quite a lot of really annoying wrong number calls here, having to deal with callers who are incredibly stupid and rude in ways I’ve never encountered elsewhere.

For example, just now, I received a call from a woman with an irritating, school-mistressy voice, asking for a Mr. So-and-So. I politely informed her (in clear Chinese, but evidently with a full mouth, because I was in the middle of eating my dinner) that no such person lived here and I was afraid she had the wrong number. She followed up with the usual: “Is that such-and-such number?”, which I affirmed was correct, and then she asked how long I’d been living here. That was pushing it a bit, but I remained polite and told her “About a year.” Then she asked if the address was such-and-such (same road, different number), and I decided I’d had enough of her questions (I had made it very clear that she could not contact the person she wanted at this number, and it was obvious that she was disturbing me in the middle of a meal, which should have prompted her to immediately apologize and stop bothering me), so said rather tartly, “No, I told you this is not that person’s number, goodbye”, and hung up.

Two minutes and another mouthful of food later, the phone rang again (no caller i/d was shown, but I was sure it must be the same person, as no one I know is likely to call me at such a time). I let it ring a few times till I’d swallowed my food, then answered in a much less polite voice. She repeated her question: Is that such-and-such person? With obvious irritation in my voice, I told her: “No, I just told you that no such person lives here. Please do not disturb me by calling here again.” Then, instead of apologizing and leaving it at that, she made me furious by asking/saying: “You’re a foreigner, aren’t you.” I shouted back down the phone “Guan ni pi shi!” (“Mind your own bloody business”) and slammed down the receiver. Such gall! I’m still seething.

Is it only me, or do other people get bothered by callers like this? How do you respond, or suggest responding? Is this indicative of generally very poor telephone manners among Taiwanese, or are such experiences blessedly much rarer for others than they are for me?

Oh yes, I get them all the time. I like the…

Caller: “Wei?”
Me: “Wei?”
Caller: “Wei?”
Me: “Wei?”
Caller: “Wei?”
Me: “Wei?”
Caller: “Wei?”
Me: “Wei?”
Caller: “Wei?”
Me: “Wei?”
And on and on and on…

You get the meaning… :unamused:

I also “enjoy” the 7am phone calls asking for such and such a teacher. When I tell the caller that teachers don’t come in, they get all indignant. Don’t even get me started on cell phones. Folks here can’t realize that they have made a mistake in dialing.

There is not much emphasis put on phone manners. My mom would slap my face if I talked on the phone like that. :slight_smile:

She probably didn’t realize that because of your accent, though, but because you didn’t just say “Nmmmph” and hang up – that’s the Taiwan way, after all.

Totally agree. But what a liberating feeling it is.

“You got the wrong number” . . . repeated with increasing insistence until the shame factor kicks in and they fade out. I’ll have none of this oh, you’re a foreigner and you speak Chinese, lets chat. Strictly grunts and short replies.

I occasionally get the bloody cold callers from different phone networks. They’re an altogether stickier bunch. That’s when the ni gao shenme feiji and guan ni shenme pishi works its impolite magic.


You might try this:

Moshi . . . . moshi . . . . . Wa-ta-shi-wa Ah-mey-li-ka-jinn . . . . ay-go-ga le-ki mas-ka?

(Have your Japanese friend help you with it. A rough translation is “Hello, hello . . . . . I am an American . . . . . Can you speak English?”

The other party will usually hang up at this point.

Or prepare a very loud whistle…just right for those special moments when somebody insists on harassing you with mis-dialed phone calls. :smiling_imp:

I try speaking Maori but they just don’t get it and keep on talking.

Try this …

[quote]“Hey, you done did the right thing, dial up my ring ring
Now you’re waiting on the beep.
Say, I would love if you’d sing
The tune to Tru instead of fronting on the speak.”
So no problemo, just play the demo
And at the end it’s break out time
Please oh please don’t press rewind
Cause I’ll just lay it down the line
Hey how ya doing
Sorry ya can’t get through
Why don’t you leave your name and your number
And I’ll get back to you

If you can take a tape recorder near a demolition site, and get the sounds of walls falling down and glass breaking . . . . .

Then you calmly speak Chinese into the telephone: "Please wait a minute . . . . " then as if speaking to someone in a nearby room: "Be careful! Be careful! Be careful! THEN PLAY THE TAPE!!


I also greatly enjoy the:

Ring, ring
(pick up)
Me: Wei?
Them: Wei?
Me: Wei?
Them: Ni shi shei? (who is this?)


And when they find out they have the wrong number I get an either immediate hangup, or a grunt of some sort followed by a hang up. I’ve VERY polite to that 20% that apologize. My part in making Taiwan a better place for all… :stuck_out_tongue:

this is just one of those things that taiwanese comes in handy for.

“ahh, blah blah blah zai bu zai.”

“li chhue siang!”

half the people will say, “oh, wo da cuo le” right here :slight_smile:

" Then she asked if the address was such-and-such (same road, different number),"

:laughing: :laughing: :laughing: She will be over tommorow now!

This is one of my favorites wth the phone here.If you feel like having a good time with that kind of persistence. what I like to do is say

Ni dung yi sha…

Two or three minutes later you return and,say boo szi ofcourse just to add to their annoyance but,if they get into a dialogue that pisses you off even further, try becoming a pervert!

They will either hang up or,whatever money you’ve been spending on those 0204 numbers you can now save! :laughing: :laughing:

Omni, I’m with Sandy on this one. You were probably too polite. I am very Taiwanese when someone calls the wrong number. A quick “ni da cuo le” and I hang up.

I have a related complaint. People here actually get pissed off if you don’t answer your cell phone. They seem to think that my cell phone exists for their convenience, not mine. They’ll call me five times in twenty minutes, until I pick up. It’s a phone intimidation tactic. I often just turn it off when that happens. If it is so important, leave a goddamned message.

There really is a total lack of telephone etiquette here.

I always call back the people who hang up on me who, when I answer the phone, realize they’ve misdialed and scold them for lousy telephone manners. Jerks.

Or when I call an office and ask for someone, only to be told by an underling that that someone is in the washroom. I’m always tempted to ask if it’s “Number One” or “Number Two”. Do you think they’d go check? :laughing:

I was always taught to identify myself to the people I’m calling, e.g. “Hello, this is John Smith from ACME, Inc calling. Could I speak to Mr. John Doe, please?” I don’t think I’ve ever heard this format in Taiwan. Just a “wei?”, and a “Ni shi shei”, or a “Ni nali zao”, or “Ni shi nawei?”

Answering the phone from somebody else’s house - “Smith residence, John speaking.” And if there’s no identification proffered, one was supposed to follow up with “May I ask who’s calling?” Never heard this over here either. I heard that the formal way to say residence is gongguan, but nobody would use it here. So of course I use it every chance I get: “Wei, Pan gongguan…” :sunglasses:

Oh man maoman,you really struck a nerve when you start talking about manners!

That is a whole thread all to itself…

When ever I search for explanations for certain behavior from being made so hot while driving my car that I have to hang my head out of the window to keep the flames from setting the interior on fire to, so many various episodes where you have to take turns in an organized fashion for any number of public services,to just public transportation. Why in the world do so many completely ignore etiquette?

The same reasoning of "cultural differances"is usually the answer.At the same time when ever I step wwwwaaaayyyyy out of line in similiar fashion it’s “sze hay ren!”( die Black person!) What is up with that??? :imp:

See,that tells me that culture differance explanation is a crock.Ethics exist here.They just aren’t usually applied!!

Me: Hello
Them: Wei
Them: Wei
Me: Do you speak English?
Them: Wei
Me: Do you speak English?
Them: Wei
Me: Oh, for Christ’s sake.

Just a few days ago.

Shortly afterwards:

Me: Hello
Them: Wei
Me: You’re joking, aren’t you?
Them: Wei
Me: I mean, how fucking stupid can you be?
Them: Wei
Me: Really, you’re taking the piss now.
Them: Wei
Me: OK, you’re paying to call my mobile phone. I’m happy to keep going as long as you’re stupid enough.
Them: Wei

And so on. I’m really amazed at the idiocy of some people.

I got a call like this the other day…

Me: Wei
Caller: Wei
Me: Wei?? :?
Caller: I want to talk to @#*)@(#* (in Chinese, of course)
Me: Nah, you’ve called the wrong number (in Chinese, one again)
Caller: Oh, sorry, so then who are you? (in Chinese, but very yucky attittude)
Me: None of your business (Screaming my lungs out!!)
Caller: I am your daddy…
Me: F you (in Taiwanese)

:unamused: :unamused: :unamused:

The other day I got a call on my mobile phone from a woman I had no recollection of meeting. She spoke to me as if we were old friends. Thinking I must know her but simply not remembered, I kept talking with her, hoping she would throw in a hint as her identity so that I could realize where I knew her from before she realized I didn’t remember her. But as we talked, I began to suspect she didn’t actually know me at all. “Where do I know you from, again?” I asked.

“We met at the thing, you know…” she said.

“What thing?”

“The thing, you know. The dinner. There were a lot of people; I don’t blame you for not remembering me.”

Gee, thanks, I thought. She called herself Xiao Xiang, or Little Smelly if you’re into biased translations. The more I talked with her the more I was convinced she’d just found my namecard somewhere. She wasn’t willing to divulge the circumstances of our supposed ‘meeting’, however, so I changed my tactics.

“Ok, so what do I look like?” I asked her. Smelly didn’t skip a beat, launching into a whiny spiel about how long it had been, how she didn’t remember exactly. I was curious to see if she even knew I wasn’t ethnically Chinese.

“Ok, I can understand if you don’t remember details,” I said. “Just tell me what color my hair is.”

“Oh, what a silly question,” Smelly answered. “It’s not like you’re a Big Nosed foreigner…Your hair is black, of course. We Orientals all have black hair. Next you’ll be asking me what color your eyes are!”

Ah HA! “BZZZZT! Wrong!”


I told Smelly that her cover was blown, that she did not in fact have any idea who I was. I imagine after I hung up she went to the next namecard she retrieved from some nightclub wastebasket. I don’t know what her scam was, nor do I particularly care. At least I got a laugh out of the whole thing, even if she did waste my mobile phone battery and phone bill with her nonsense.

I’ve tried using Taiwanese, but it never causes people to hang up; instead they inevitably speaking in more and more colloquial terms until I have to admit my Taiwanese is not up to the task and switch back to Mandarin.

Then it is time for me to apologize to those of you (if any) who have been terrorized by my attempts to find some people, based on an old address-list.

I got an address-list that had not been updated for a couple of years, and the task to update it. Needless to say, a lot of the calls was answered by someone else than the person I was looking for.

In those instances the person answering the phone could speak English, I asked them if the address on my list was correct, and if they knew where the person I was looking for had moved. In most of the cases, the address was correct, but they had never heard about the person I was looking for. Understandably, the persons on the other side were not very interested in continuing the conversation/interrogation, so I never came around to ask if they rented the place and/or how long they had stayed there.

Anyway, my conclusion was that new tenants in the same place had taken over the old phone number, and of course had never met or heard about the former tenants.

So, my apologizes to those of you that have been interrogated by me in my attempts to update the address-list. Most of the guys answering was locals though.

You gotta teach me that one … :smiley:

Since I usually stay late at the office I am the only one here, so I do pick up the phone when it rings.
After a few “wei’s” back and forth I figure they want to speak to someone, but usually I will ask in my best Chinese (aehem) if the speak English. Not that they seem to get it and keep on talking Chinese though the last one said, in a rather good English: “I don’t speak English!” and hang up. Go figure …