Sun, Sep 03, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Wang cards `sold' before they even hit the shelves

BIDDING On several popular online auction sites the price for MRT EasyCards with Wang Chien-ming on the front are fetching NT$3,550

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

While fans were elated to see that Wang Chien-ming (王建民), a native of Taiwan and now a starting pitcher of the New York Yankees, had nailed his 16th victory this season, some have also jumped on to chance to earn a buck out of it.

The Taipei Smart Card Corp, the company issuing EasyCards used in the Taipei MRT, announced on Thursday that it will begin selling 5,000 sets of cards featuring Wang at several of the nation's convenience stores, including Taiwan Family Mart, Hi-Life, Niko Mart and OK Mart.

Each set contains four different cards with Wang on the front and costs just NT$1,200 (US$37.50).

Individual cards are also available for NT$350 each.

The public will be able to purchase the cards at the Metro Souvenir Shops later this month as well.

By Friday, however, media reports showed that pre-sale orders of Wang EasyCards were being snapped up by baseball enthusiasts and most convenience stores had run out of stock.

On some of the popular auction sites, such as Yahoo Kimo! or EBay Taiwan, the bidding price has far exceeded the retail price, ranging from NT$2,000 to NT$3,550 as of late yesterday.

The situation has enraged Wang's fans, with many complaining online that people working in convenience stores were engaging in a kind of "insider trading" -- pulling the Wang cards off the shelves and selling them on.

A person who went by the nickname Shiao-jun (小君) posted a comment on Yahoo Knowledge on Friday saying that she ordered a set of Wang cards late on Thursday night, but was told on Friday that all the available sets at the store had been taken and she should come to the store personally to pick up a refund.

"Then I called Taipei Smart Card, but the customer service representative said there is nothing they can do about it at this point," she said, "I felt I was being cheated."

"Is it possible that the people working at the stores ordered like 100 to 200 sets themselves and managed to sell them somewhere else?" she asked, "This is really intolerable!"

According to a report in the Chinese-language United Daily News on Friday, the company had already discussed the situation with the Major Leagues and is likely to issue a second edition of the Wang EasyCards in the middle of next month.

Wang's performance in the current US baseball season has garnered considerable media attention in Taiwan as well as in some other countries in Asia, including China.

But a feature story published in the Aug.14 edition of China's Oriental Sports Daily labeled Wang as "a Chinese pitcher" or "a Chinese player," which upset many of Wang's Taiwanese fans. Comments such as "shameless" or "What BS!" have filled online bulletin boards.

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