Junk Mail

What’s annoying and clogs the mailbox? Junk mail! Most people throw it out – but not me. I save mine and take it to Chinese class. I really do want to know what’s being sold, what’s on offer,  and where all the good deals are! Usually I can get the gist of any circular by reading, re-reading, and reading yet again, scouring the symbols for patterns and any recognizable numbers or words. I’ve figured out “2-for-1” and how percent-off works: if something is 20% off, the price is listed at 80%. Maybe that makes it easier to do the math and figure out the price? One nice thing about shopping here – there is no tax, so the price you see is the price you pay (unless it’s on SALE!).

so colorful!

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Watson’s

Junk mail is not an unknown concept in Taiwan.

Everyday when I get home, I check my mailbox for something other than a Chunghwa bill but all I find is junk mail. Most of it is colorful and looks interesting; sometimes I can tell by the pictures what is being advertised. (Written Chinese still looks like a foreign language to me!)

Last week a multi-page flyer arrived, with the recognizable white-lettering-on-aqua-banner logo of Watson’s on every page. Watson’s  are like 7-11: everywhere! There are two in 1/4 mile from my Lane 39 down to Xinyi. They sell cosmetics and personal items. Like CVS without the pharmacy.

SALE!” the flyer proclaimed in bold letters. Now that I can understand! I flip through it, matching the pictures to the numbers next the “yuan” (money) symbol and find ads for products that:

  • “whiten” the skin
  • help you lose weight
  • promote good health (herbal supplements and drinks)
  • help you enhance your beauty (cosmetics in a dazzling array of colors and packaging).

How’s a girl to know what to purchase? So I look for the prices. Strangely there are numbers that couldn’t possibly be the price for, say, a well-known high-end brand of face cream (85 = 2.50USD). At first I think the item is 85% off – wow, what a bargain! Then, I realize that that 85 actually means 15% off (so the item is 85% of its original price). Why not just say 15% off? Now that I’ve figured that system out, the  numbers next to the yuan symbol start making more sense. I can do the math, then divide by 30 to get the price in US dollars.

As I’m checking out, having purchased Naruko “Night Repairing Dew” (made with narcissus, smells wonderful, and at 80NT, it’s a bargain) and some blueberry tea bags in glass jar (Made in Germany) for 90NT, another bargain, I notice people using what looks a “frequent shopper” card. When it’s my turn to pay, I point to the poster for the card and am handed a beautiful silver packet containing said card and several informative brochures in Chinese, along with a package of cosmetic samples (for “sensitive Asian skin” which, let’s face it, does NOT describe me or my skin). It was a nice gesture though. I’m made to understand that I need to go online to register the card. Of course the entire site is in Chinese and even trying Google’s Chrome browser to translate isn’t helpful. Ah well, guess that explains why no sales associate ever offered  me a card…

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…