How Did 7-Eleven Come to Rule the Streets of Taiwan?

An inside look at how the convenience store chain began operating like a government agency.

The News Lens
Date: 2019/04/12
By: James Grant

Credit: Depositphotos

I picked up my first Taiwan parking ticket the other day and, after identifying the issue with my choice of random roadside parking space, headed down to my nearest 7-Eleven to pay the fine.

After inexpertly cranking through a translation app, I established that my request to pay the “motorbike fee” was not sufficiently detailed – and that, between simultaneously microwaving three different meals to lunch temperature, the 7-Eleven staffer on duty did not know what I was trying to pay.

Eventually it became apparent the staff member was trying to establish whether I was trying to pay a parking or speeding ticket, and it became apparent to me that each 7-Eleven still possessed capabilities that I had no idea about.

In the UK there is debate about whether this can contribute to a criminal record, and in certain cases must be disclosed to your employer. Within my lifetime, I’ve seen two UK politicians serve prison sentences for picking up a speeding fine and opting to follow it up with a unhealthy dose of dishonesty. That this fairly serious offense can be dealt with at a Taiwan convenience store baffles me, as do many of 7-Eleven’s extracurricular activities.

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