The other week I went to the supermarket to do my weekly shopping, and ended up learning a rather interesting cultural lesson.
I knew at the checkout that my shopping would be more expensive than normal, and I didn’t have a membership card to collect the points. So I put on my UK thinking cap and thought, instead of letting the points go to waste, why not benefit somebody else. After all, people do it in UK all the time, so it just seemed like a natural thing to do. Also, everyone in Taiwan is always so kind, its the least I can do to repay a little kindness.
So I turned to the guy behind me, told him I didn’t have a membership card and asked if he would like my points to go on his. His starred at me with a blank face as if I was speaking in double Dutch (ok, my Chinese isn’t perfect but its not that bad!) and then slowly handed his card to the cashier with a bewildered look. Throughout the whole process, he didn’t thank or even acknowledge me, not that I really minded, but manners ? !
I thought about this incident afterwards and asked some local friends of their views on it. Apparently, it turns out that unlike UK, this isn’t a common practice in Taiwan. People are quite sceptical when strangers approach them，especially when asked for personal details, for fear of being scammed. Also the reward points at supermarkets here are pretty mean, so they don’t really bother to cross transfer points between strangers. No wonder the guy acted is such a weird way!
Well, that was an interesting gaffe. Next time I will know better.