I thought that my first blog back from vacation would be about Penghu, but after sitting down to write this morning and receiving two threatening phone calls, which have set my teeth on edge and have me angrier than hell, I guess my Penghu posts will have to wait.
Last week, I posted about some problems we’ve been having with a purchase that we made several months ago. In a nutshell, we bought a second-hand car. The car has broken down. We tried several times to settle this problem with the owner before realizing we had no choice but to take the matter to court. The owner has steadfastly refused to deal with us since the money changed hands.
Since then John has spent quite a bit of time and money going to court. John’s decision to do so came around because we felt we had no other option.
Just before going on vacation last week, I decided to chat with my Chinese teacher, Kirk, about this problem. I indicated to him that this has been hard on us. Going to court was not something we wanted. We don’t know how things work here. We felt that by relying on the courts for assistance, we would get the protection and help we need that we aren’t able to acquire on our own. We are coming to realize that court is not something that anyone would want. It’s simply too complicated and lengthy of a process.
Kirk stressed that we were right to pursue things in the manner we have taken and made a good suggestion. He offered to help us construct a letter to the court to let them know that, as tax-payers who are unfamiliar with the Taiwanese court of law or Taiwanese culture, we are unable to settle things out of court and truly need a court official to make a decision for us. I mentioned this to a few other Taiwanese friends and they also agreed that this could be what is needed to get a firm decision made. They also encouraged us over this week to keep pursuing this matter until it is settled.
We believe we did everything in our power to compromise and deal fairly with the owner of the car. He has stonewalled us every step of the way.
Two weeks ago, the judge ordered Mr. Su, the previous owner, to fix the car. Instead, Mr. Su ordered the garage to make unnecessary repairs to the car to boost the outstanding amount to be paid to the garage. He then had the bill sent to John.
Last week, John finally got the car back from the garage after paying $6000NT to get it out. He left an outstanding bill of over $6000NT and told the garage that Mr. Su would be paying the remainder of the bill.
Yesterday, the court ruled in our favor after Mr. Su failed to show up for his third court appearance. Mr. Su has been asked to pay all the outstanding bills on the car. John called me while I was in Penghu yesterday to tell me the good news.
Then today, as I was sitting down to process trip photos, I received a phone call that left me shaken and very very angry. When I answered the phone, a man demanded to know where I lived. Of course, I’m not stupid and I didn’t tell him anything. I asked who he was and he repeated his question, so I repeated mine and then he started screaming obscenities at me in Chinese. My Chinese might not be great, but I think every foreigner here has learned basic swear words and other catch phrases for telling people off.
I was completely taken aback. I tried to call back and of course, the number is blocked. Then I called John and he told me that he had received a couple of weird phone calls yesterday after the hearing. Obviously the coincidence is too great to ignore. A very small group of people have our home number here in Taiwan. We’ve never had a prank phone call before, so it’s pretty easy to point the finger. Mr. Su has our number from our first phone call to him about the car and John had to sign documents intended for Mr. Su at the courthouse yesterday. Our home phone number was included on that document.
About an hour after the first phone call, I received a second call. It was the same voice again demanding to know where we live.
We just want this to be over. While I’m glad that we don’t have to go back to court, I’m worried now that we’re going to have these phone calls to deal with over the rest of the summer. Even worse, the punishment for Mr. Su wasn’t terribly harsh and I’m sure there’s nothing stopping him from suckering the next poor person that has the misfortune to make his acquaintance.