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REVEALING THE HIDDEN COSTS OF BUYING IN CHINA

Recently, Qingdao prawns have been really a topic on the go. It’s about a tourist being ripped off while ordering prawns in a restaurant in Qingdao. As was written on the menu and confirmed with the waitress, the dish “Qingdao Prawns” cost 38 rmb. However, the bill turned out to be more than 15,00 rmb and the tourist was told that 38 rmb was the price for one prawn rather than for one dish. Since there were 40 prawns altogether in the dish, it cost 1,520 rmb. The tourist had no way but to pay for it after being pointed to a tiny and vague line at the bottom of the menu, stating that price written above was for one piece.

Things of such kind are not news for us locals. Here are a few tricks that you might feel delighted at the low price/favors at the beginning but later might bury in deep regrets with exorbitant price you’ve paid.

1.Pretty girls speaking fluent English inviting you to drink tea or to exhibitions. It has happened to one of my Chinese friends who ended up paying several thousand rmb for several cups of tea that cost no more than several hundred rmb.

2.Sellers offering you products/service at much lower price than competitors or at absurd price with cost of production, renting, labor…etc taken into consideration. After paying the deposit, you might end up paying extra fees from time to time, for instance, fees for opening mold, electroplating, tax…etc, fees that they never lack of excuse to charge while you are in a catch-22 situation.

3.Taking taxi in smaller cities or in suburbs of big cities without asking the driver to turn on the meter or agreeing on the taxi fee beforehand. In smaller cities or in suburbs of big cities lacking of government control, there are more chances of getting hidden costs if you do not confirm beforehand.

4.Phone calls or messages from your “manager”, telling you to come to the office.
There are some similar ones:
*Phone calls form the “bank”, telling there’s something wrong with your account.
*Phone calls from “China Post Office”, telling you to pick up a parcel.

5.Vague Chinese phrases/sentences that can be interpreted into different meanings, and worst, the sentence “All rights reserved by XX”. Chinese is considered as the most difficult language. One word may have different meanings, when one word combines with another, there are many more meanings. Since we have countless two-word phrases, three-word phrases, four-word phrases…etc, and moreover, we have abundant homonyms, punnings…etc, making it easier to play language games.