• September 2, 2019 at 1:16 am

    So Mei Ban Fa literally means there’s no solution, or there’s nothing that can be done, and i found this phrase and the likes being utilized way more frequently than anywhere in the world i’ve travelled. So I’ve been China for quite a few years and speak pretty good mandarin.  I’m confident to say I can get by using my Chinese skills in most life situations esp. when the subject is a familiar one to participants of the conversation.  So I went to this tailor store by the 2nd ring road with a 1.8 m X 2.7 m curtain to be tailored to fit my window that’s 1.3m high.  So I asked this lady if she can cut the material into two pieces of 1.8m X 1.3m (or 1.35m). She didn’t get it immediately but her husband saw my point without problems after I showed them a drawing i prepared.  So the husband started helping explain and I was like ‘oh great’.  HOWEVER, I was told Mei Ban Fa by both of them while being given no logic reasons.  I think what they said was they’d need to trim the sides.  I think sides trimming might mean loss of 1% accuracy but won’t mean the dimension change cannot be implemented. So I said ‘no problem and do the best you can’.  Then both of them panicked (for absolutely no reason) and went back to difficulty in understanding the whole concept again.  I deemed myself a calm person but nevertheless got a bit mad at this point and started to demand scissors.. when my (Chinese) wife started to drag me away.  We had the job done in the next store with no sweat and 25 rmb.  I just wanted to share this experience of mine on this forum and hopefully better understand this Mei Ban Fa thing..

  • September 2, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    It sound similar to the ” meiyou” phenomenon i observed. Except with “meiyou” they are usually just lazy or dont know and dont want to ask their workmates. But when a business owner does it, its really strange. Because it affects their income.

  • September 2, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    Nick here from FEX. I think lazy still works here. It sounds like the business owners in this case won’t make effort to truly understand customers request.  it might be relatively unusual request for them.

  • September 2, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    Western businesses are easy to fail. I think its true in China too. But western businesses are very reluctant to give away business so easily. They make so much effort in advertising to get customers, and the rent and overhead are so much, its like insanity to turn away paying customers for such low effort. For me it really is mind boggling.

  • September 3, 2019 at 1:34 am

    I could totally relate to it Lol.  I have Mei Ban Fa and/or Mei You all the time when they apparently have adequate resources and tools to provide a solution.

  • September 3, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    I think it’s more than ‘lazy’ or money, and instead there’s some fascinating cultural piece in it.  As a Chinese person, I find many of us would love to assume some type of ‘authority’ over our peer citizens who equal us in the same/similar social-economic stratum.  Chinese people tend to give way more respect (and/or obedience), than most westerners do, to the folks in positions high up there in gov’t departments, cooperate hierarchy etc. On the other hand, when it comes to their/our peers of the same socioeconomic status, there’s always an obvious effort to assume authority on something.  In the case of the tailor’s, what I pictured was that you gave ‘too much’ information and directions which put yourself in a position of absolute authority (in their perception) over them.  You probably described your window dimensions, showed them the fabric, illustrated your drawing, and told them what to do.  My understanding of the dynamic is :  they perfectly understood you actually,  n they presented some difficulty (of sides trimming) from their expertise;  Then you didn’t buy and tried to push it over; Then they FEEL the threat to their authority on the matter; Then they got stubborn and told you to go?  Man if I were you, i would just show them the drawing and the fabric, played dumb and let THEM figure out what to do..  They probably would quickly take authority,  wrack their brain and prolly get to the same solution before happily performing the alternation.

  • September 3, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    Wow. So I guess I need to play dumb as a paying customer sometimes. Fascinating. Thanks for sharing your insight William!