Thu, Oct 23, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Expats find it hard to get phone

FUSS FOR FOREIGNERS Non-Taiwanese who want to get an Internet connection are running into a regulatory roadblock on the on ramp to the information highway

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Foreigners are being asked to provide a Taiwanese guarantor to apply for ADSL connections because some of them are leaving the country without first paying their bills, Chunghwa Telecom said yesterday.

Chunghwa Telecom spokeswoman Shen Fu-fu (沈馥馥) said that Chunghwa had begun requiring a local guarantor since the end of last year.

"It was because very often in the past we were met with bad debts when foreigners left the country without paying their bills," Shen said.

One person subject to the new rules is American Terry Thatcher. When the full-time translator and long-time Taiwan resident applied to Chunghwa Telecom for a new ADSL line last November, she was surprised to find that she needed a Taiwanese guarantor to proceed with the application.

"I paid my taxes and bills on time, and I have been a Chunghwa customer for a long time. But now suddenly nothing counts," Thatcher said.

Thatcher had an ADSL line installed in May without any problem, but she terminated the line rental when she left the country for the summer. When she came back and tried to have a new ADSL line installed, Chunghwa Telecom demanded that she first find a Taiwanese guarantor.

Chunghwa was not even impressed that she had been using and paying a Chunghwa Telecom mobile phone account even when she was out of the country.

But the source of Chunghwa's new policy is not clear.

Wu Min-jung (吳明融), head of Chunghwa Telecom's mobile phone business, said that a Taiwanese guarantor was needed only when a foreigner was applying for a mobile phone, and there was no written regulation requiring a guarantor for landlines or ADSL connections.

Even so, said Leng Tai-fen (冷台芬), head of the marketing division, "it is possible that the regional service centers have decided to demand a local guarantor for fear of bad debts, since there is huge pressure within the company about bad debts now."

Moreover, if a foreigner wants to sign a two-year contract for a mobile phone or ADSL, often the minimum time that special deals run, the foreigner's ARC must be valid for least for two years at the time of signing, Chunghwa Telecom said.

Chunghwa is not alone in implementing this kind of policy.

Taiwan Cellular Corp requires foreigners to have Taiwanese guarantors or pay a refundable deposit of NT$2,900 when applying for a monthly-rental mobile phone account.

With Far EasTone Telecom, the refundable deposit is NT$2,400, but a Taiwanese guarantor is not required.

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