Investigation begun after foreigner charged NT$400 for bag of fruit at Taipei night market

Taipei launches investigation over NT$400 charged to foreigner for bag of fruit in Shilin Night Market

A fruit stall in Shilin Night Market (Flickr/See-ming Lee)

A fruit stall in Shilin Night Market (Flickr/See-ming Lee)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The Taipei City Government has launched an investigation after a foreigner was allegedly overcharged for fruit in the city's famous Shilin Night Market.

After a well-known female Taiwanese netizen complained on social media about an incident in which a foreign national was allegedly overcharged for a bag of diced fruit, the Taipei City Market Administration Office has launched an investigation. The office is investigating whether the vendor and others in the area are seeking windfall profits at the expense of foreign visitors, among other infractions.

On Jan. 12, a Taiwanese netizen described an incident she witnessed while visiting the Shilin Night Market that same day with a foreign friend on the online discussion forum Dcard. She said that when her foreign friend purchased a small bag of diced fruits, he handed the vendor an NT$1,000 note (US$32) and to her shock, the man handed her friend NT$600 in change, meaning that the price was actually NT$400.

When she asked her friend what had happened, he said that the street vendor had been vague about the price of the fruits beforehand, only saying that it was based on weight. The vendor then asked her foreign friend which ones he wanted, before bagging them up.

After she explained to her friend that he had likely been cheated, he tried to return the fruits, but the vendor refused. In her post, the woman wrote, "Why does a shop owner bully a foreigner who doesn't understand the market price to make a profit like this?"

The greedy behavior of the fruit stall owner made the netizen feel helpless. She wrote:

"We are very happy to be rich in fruits in this subtropical country, but profits from fruits should not be made in this way. The Shilin Night Market is the most popular place for foreign tourists, and by virtue of this the vendors make money. But under his breath he said 'other people sell things like this too...'"

She then asked, "When did the Shilin Night Market, which I haven't been to in a long time, become so unfriendly? Did morality also get cut up with a knife and get put in a bag?"

After receiving news of the incident, Yang Chung-cheng (楊忠誠), a division chief at the Taipei Market Administration Office on Monday (Jan. 15) said his office had coordinated with Taipei police to inspect stalls in the Shilin Night Market that same day, reported CNA. On Tuesday, he said he would join police and environmental and health officials in conducting inspections of stalls in the area.

Yang said that the night market will be inspected three times a week until the end of the month and adjustments will be made based on the results of the inspections. Yang said that inspections will be carried out on 19 fruit stalls in the Shilin Night Market and will include assessments of their level of cleanliness, food-handling hygiene, accuracy of electronic scales, and whether customers are coerced into making purchases.

As soon as the post was uploaded on Dcard, many netizens left very jaded responses:

"Human nature, they think they are easily deceived."

"Foreigners are fat sheep in the eyes of businessmen. They don't understand anything, so they are easily cheated."

"In fact, this kind of thing happens everywhere in the world, it's no surprise this happened in Shilin."

"At tourist attractions all over the world, travelers are easily scammed."

"When I went to Malaysia, France, the Czech Republic, and Italy, the same thing happened in those places. The world has all kinds of people."