What’s the deal?

This one has bamboozled me for years. Why, oh why do market vendors announce that something is “25 NT each, four for a hundred!” like that’s some kind of deal? I’ve asked people and invariably got blank looks.

“It’s 25 NT. Four for a hundred.”

Some of the more wily, rascally types down the market get my point. I can seen it in their  arched eyebrows and their binglang-stained grins. “What? Four for a hundred! That’s really cheap! Come on. You wouldn’t get that in your country.”

Look at these lettuces. Reasonably priced, no doubt, which is why I went for them. Two for thirty.

Two for thirty, OK?

As I manhandled them in true old-lady fashion, I  couldn’t help myself.

“Boss, how much for one?”

“I’m not the boss,” said a customer, walking off. “Two for 30. One for 15”. He shrugged. Not that he probably needed any but he now had first-hand evidence that foreigners were nitwits. “You’ll never believe this foreigner down the market today. Two for 30, one for 15. He just didn’t get it.”

An old woman next to me, interrupted her vegetable prodding and switched to fingering the sign. “Look. Here. Look. You see? Two for 30.”

“One for 15?”

“Yes. Exactly. That’s right.”

She was chuffed that I seemed to be getting the hang of this and went back to her poking.

Eventually the real bossman behind his stand caught wind of some kind of commotion in front of the discount boxes. “Hey, hello,” he said in decent English. “Two for 30.”

“And for one?”


“I don’t understand why it’s like that in Taiwan” I said, reverting to Chinese. “No kidding, it’s one for 15! That’s not a deal. Where I’m from, it has to be one for 15, two for 25, or something.”

He was already chuckling before I’d finished my sentence. “Z,” he said, following up in English “Marketing strategy.”

I wasn’t sure about the Chinese word he had used and later consulted a friend. “Z,” she said. “I don’t know exactly how to translate it.”

“Marketing strategy?” I asked.

“Yeah, something like that.”

I typed in the pinyin and found  just one entry in the dictionary: Fraud/deception. 

This guy didn’t appear to be offering any eye-catching deals but anyone playing with shears over a bottle of rice wine at lunchtime deserves a nod.





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