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Старый 31.01.2013, 21:18  Ссылка на сообщение   #1  
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China's Online Shopping Craze

China's Online Shopping Craze
Роман Кошелев, организатор проекта opentao.net
Старый 31.01.2013, 21:20  Ссылка на сообщение   #2  
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In recent years, Chinese people have become legendary consumers of luxury items, with Chinese tourists snapping up brand name goods in Paris, London, Geneva and other shopping capitals of the world. But few know that closer to home, a craze for online shopping has swept across the country, costing people thousands of dollars and in some cases, resulting in divorces or lost thumbs.

Last year, on the night before the Double Eleven Shopping Festival on November 11 (which is Single's Day in China) held by China's largest e-commerce website, Taobao.com, one woman stayed up all night in front of her computer, shopping up a storm. By noon the next day, she had placed nearly 20 orders.

Enraged by her crazy behavior, her husband filed for divorce. "It's like I'm married to a mobile Taobao machine!" he said.

Born in the late 1980s, the young couple had only been married that year and both were white-collar workers. Their house was a wedding gift from both parents and their income was mostly spent on daily expenses.

The wife, whose main hobby was shopping online, literally made orders everyday. Both their incomes went to sellers on Taobao.com. Worst of all, most of the stuff she bought was completely useless to them.

After the husband filed for divorce, a court judge mediated the case and the husband agreed to withdraw his request if his wife would reduce her online shopping. The wife agreed and they started to work things out.

As unbelievable as it may seem, this cautionary tale is only one in a plethora of stories where online shopping has caused problems for people. In fact, one woman living in east China's Jiangsu Province almost lost her left thumb because of it.

During the Double Eleven Festival, she spent nearly 20,000 yuan (US$ 3,214). On that day, she sat in front of her computer and did not move for any reason. Even when her little daughter cried, she ignored the girl.

Finally, her husband got fed up and they had a fight. In her exasperation, the woman rushed into the kitchen, got a knife and cut off her left thumb. Luckily, doctors were able to re-attach it.

Right now, online sellers are busy having sales promotions for the upcoming Spring Festival. Lots of people have found that they are unable to stop shopping online and it has been affecting their life.

Psychological experts warn that online shopping addiction is actually a new kind of mental illness, and those with severe conditions should seek professional help.

Online Shopping Addiction

"I went on a blind date with a girl the other day. Everything about her was great until she said that her Taobao buyers' credit had reached the Gold Crown level. I suddenly felt that I would not be good enough for her. The first thing that crossed my mind when she said that was how much money she must have spent to get to that level," posted netizen 'Sneakers' on his Sina Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-like social media website.

'Crowns' are the Tabao buyer credit system. In order to achieve that level, the girl must have commented on over 10,000 products she bought from Taobao. Even if each product was only 10 yuan (US$ 1.6), she must have spent at least spent 100,000 yuan (US$ 16,070).

The post attracted a lot of comments. Some said that in this day and age, it would be wise to look up the Taobao credit level of one's date before going out with them. However, others say that online shopping is just a form of consumption and we cannot make any conclusions based on it. Besides, online shopping can save a lot of money, they added.

On a local online forum of Hangzhou City, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, 'Viless', a self-confessed online shopaholic, posted her online shopping bills in 2011.

According to the bills, she spent an average of 3,000 yuan (US$ 482.1) per month on online purchases. And in November 2011, she spent 6,000 yuan (US$ 974.2), which is still nothing compared to her spending of over 10,000 yuan (US$ 1,607) during the Double Eleventh in 2012.

"A few months ago, I found that I was starting to have trouble remembering what I bought online when the products were delivered to my door. I realized my problem is serious because I must have bought a lot of things that I don't need at all. Otherwise, how could I not remember?" Viless said.

She added, "I thought online shopping could save me money. But I spent a lot to save a little. For instance, I was supposed to buy only one hat for my child. But to save on shipping costs, I bought six or seven hats just to get free shipping."

To make matters worse, Viless only earns slightly over 40,000 yuan (US$ 6,428) a year. "Without my husband's help and the money our parents gave us when we got married, I would barely be able to make ends meet," she said.

Viless also found that she simply cannot control her shopping impulses. She asked for help on her post, "Aside from cutting off my hands, how can I control myself? Is it a disease? Should I see a shrink?"

Coincidentally, her husband, Ren, also saw her post and wrote, "She has always shopped online, but since she graduated in 2010 and started earning her own money, her online spending has surged."

According to Ren, his wife's work is relatively light, allowing her to spend a lot of time on Taobao. When she gets home, she continues browsing for one to two hours.

"I pick her up after work everyday and our car trunk is often filled with all kinds of express parcels. Last November, there were so many parcels, I had to borrow a handcart and make two trips to bring home four big boxes. My muscles are now pretty strong," he said. Many Chinese office workers get their online purchases delivered to the office instead of home.

Although his wife's spending is still within their affordable range, he still hopes she will think more rationally before buying.


Viless' post attracted considerable attention. Some netizens followed up by posting their own online shopping bills. Among them, the lowest bill was more than 20,000 yuan (US$ 3,214) and the highest was as much as nearly 400,000 yuan (US$ 64,280).

Netizen 'Dayuan' says, "Why can't they just buy what they need? Purchasing so many cheap things you don't need is straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel."

Netizen 'Yezi' said she will ask her son to check his dates' shopping habits first as she will not allow him to marry a spendthrift.

Several other netizens have expressed the same feeling. Netizen 'Xiuxiu Girl' commented: "Since I began shopping online, the money flows out like running water. Aside from my son, everything in my house was bought from Taobao."

Netizen 'Ziye Luoxue' said that as she has so many deliveries, she has made friends with the delivery guy. Netizen 'Xiao Erlang' said, "I tell myself everyday that if I buy another thing, I will cut off my hand. But after 'cutting off' many hands, I still buy stuff online."

Many netizens also gave Viless advice. Some suggested she let her husband manage her Taobao account passwords. Some said she should lower her credit card limit or cancel them. And others suggest she should open a second-hand Taobao store to get rid of the useless things she bought.

Experts Say

Online shopping has become a part of life for many Chinese female office workers. Even though they may not need to buy anything, they still browse online shopping websites on a daily basis.

The excitement of 'seckill', a slang word in China that refers to the quick sales of newly advertised goods for much lower prices, and the pleasure of receiving deliveries are two main reasons they shop so much. But once they come down from the purchasing high, they often realize that what they have bought is useless to them.

In early 2012, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) released a survey report on Chinese people's enthusiasm for online shopping. Of its surveyed Chinese consumers, about 70 percent shop online at least once a week, nearly four times the number of European consumers and nearly twice the number of consumers in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Psychological counselor Li Liqin did a mini survey of her students at a college in Hangzhou and found that 90 percent of them regularly shop online.

Psychologists warn that most online shopping addicts have not yet realized that it is a mental illness.

"Online shopping has become a normal part of life, but overdoing it is likely to become a mental illness," Li said.

Li also explained that introverted women under 30 with few hobbies are more likely to become addicted to shopping online. "They usually enjoy the excitement and pleasure of online shopping, but once they find out they have bought something they don't need, they feel a strong sense of loss," she said.

She recommended that those who are addicted to online shopping go out more, spend more time with friends and with nature.

Fu Sufeng, the secretary-general of the Mental Health Association of Zhejiang Province, also suggested that people practice some simple self-control. "For instance, they can make a budget and set up a spending limit. And they can put the things they want to buy in their shopping cart for a few days to see if they really need it. But those for whom it has already become an addiction should seek professional help."

Like so many other modern conveniences, online shopping has made life easier as well as more complicated. Those who are addicted to it know what their problem is but can't seem to help themselves. They should consider asking for professional help as soon as possible, before their addiction causes even greater problems.

(Source: chinadaily.com.cn/Translated and edited by womenofchina.cn)

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Роман Кошелев, организатор проекта opentao.net
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