March 27, 2012


Winning the Lottery…

How many of us HAVEN’T dreamed about what we would do if we won the lottery?  Even those that say they really don’t care (broo-ha-ha) have ideas of what they would do with the cash.

A new home… a new car… an extended vacation… quit your job.  What would you do?  For me, I suppose it comes down to how much did I win.  Different amounts will determine my use.

Here in Taiwan, every receipt (well, almost every) has a number.  It is an eight-digit number preceded by two letters.  What the letters are for, I have no idea.  Every couple of months, the Taxation Agency – Department of Finance draws several numbers.  When these numbers match your receipt numbers, you win. Simple.  Just for purchasing something as simple as a chocolate bar, you have the chance of winning up to 10,000,000nt.

Before arriving in Taiwan, I had already read about this uniform invoice lottery in one of my travel books.  From the moment I got my first receipt, I made it a point to collect each and every receipt and save it until lottery day.  For those not in Taiwan, basically it works like this:

All the receipts you get during the months of January and February of that year, the winning number is drawn on the 25th of March.  Winnings can be collected from April 6th until July 5th.  March and April, draw on May 25, collect from June 6 to September 5th.  Etc., etc., etc.

This time around, the Agency drew seven winning numbers.  The first number is for 10,000,000nt.  You must have all eight digits in the exact order to claim this prize.  The second number drawn is for 2,000,000nt, and same conditions apply.  The third, fourth, and fifth numbers drawn, again are eight-digit numbers, but these can be broken down.

All eight numbers – 200,000nt.  The last seven numbers – 40,000nt.  The last six numbers – 10,000nt.  The last five numbers – 4,000nt.  The last four numbers – 1,000nt.  The last three numbers – 200nt.  That is as far as it goes.  The final two numbers drawn are only three digits.  Now, this is where it gets interesting.

Perhaps it’s just the events over the past year or so that have led me to this, or perhaps it’s becoming a bit wiser (I like to think the latter!).  The numbers that are drawn indicate that the breakdown numbers must be the last numbers.  That is, for example, if the number 12345678 were drawn, then the following holds true:  40,000nt – 2345678;  10,000nt – 345678;  4,000nt – 45678;  1,000nt – 5678;  200nt – 678.  Therefore, if my receipt was something like 56781234, then I would win no money.  The chart clearly indicates for this notation.  For example, for the “Second Prize”, the notation is thus:  “NT$40,000 for matching the last seven digits from any of the first prize winning numbers.”  However, for the “Additional Sixth Prize” numbers, the notation is as follows:  “NT$200 for matching all the three digits from the above prize winning numbers.”

Do you see (or not see) what I see (or not see)?

I never noticed it before, but there is a flaw in the form.  By stating that the winning receipt receives “NT$200 for matching all the three digits from the above prize winning numbers”, indicates to me, that the prize winning number can be anywhere within the receipt number.  Therefore, should the prize winning number be 123, then it wouldn’t matter if those three numbers appeared at the beginning, middle, or end of the receipt number, the winning receipt holder should be entitled to NT$200.

Now, I realize that I live in Taiwan.  I realized that the moment I received my first ARC.  I also realize that Traditional Mandarin Chinese is the language of use in this country.  I further realize that English translations can be misleading, and at times, not only confusing, but at times, comical.

So what I had to do, before I proceed any further, is to see what the Chinese notations are.  As I don’t understand or speak very much Mandarin Chinese, I have to use an online translator.  I used three different online translators to verify the Chinese notations.

I also spent over an hour on the phone with the agencies involved in the “Uniform-Invoice Prize Winning Numbers”, and surprisingly, no one understood anything I was saying.  One lady just kept repeating an ‘800’ number for me to call, even though I asked repeatedly, over and over, ‘ing-wan ren’ (English person).  As a side note, I am surprised that people don’t realize that ‘800’ numbers cannot be placed off cell phones in Taiwan.

From what these online translators indicate, the notation in Chinese does state that the ‘Additional Sixth Prize’ numbers must match the last three numbers of the receipt.  Okay, fair enough.  So what now?

As the Ministry of Finance only has available the last three drawings, and I have the last YEAR’S printouts, I have found that I have a lot more receipts that, if I was to use the English translation, I have actually won a lot more money.

I’m not trying to get the Ministry of Finance to give me more money.  As they publish these lists in English, assuming that they realize that foreigners living here know about this ‘lottery’, then their translation should be proper.  They are a government agency after all.  If the government cannot translate things properly for their people, and those living here, then what hope is there that businesses will follow suit.

My option – write a letter.  Send in copies of their charts in English and Chinese, copies of my ‘winning’ receipts, and help them to understand their dilemma when it comes to translating to another language, in this case, English.

Many years ago, the president of Taiwan and his government instituted a law that every person should learn English.  He understood the importance of learning English, as it is a universal language.  Perhaps more people on this planet speak English, but more countries use English as a first or second OFFICIAL language.  By having his people learn English, they will better themselves when traveling, meeting foreigners in Taiwan, surfing the internet, dealing with other business internationally.

I guess I had better get working on this letter.

That’s it, that’s all… for now!

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