If you’re not a confrontational person, having to argue with someone can be a daunting task. Luckily, Chinese online marketplace Taobao now offers people the chance to hire a “professional quarreler” to argue on their behalf.
There’s a good reason why Taobao is considered the world’s largest e-commerce platform. You can find virtually anything there, from popular products like smartphones to homework-writing robots and even bizarre services like hiring people to eat your favourite treats so you don’t have to. The latest addition to Taobao’s seemingly infinite list of goods and services is ‘quarrelling by proxy’, which gives people the chance to hire strangers to argue or simply harass someone on their behalf, for a small fee.
For obvious legal reasons, professional quarrelling is an obscure service, so interested parties have to search for specific phrases – “代骂架” or “代吵架” (Chinese for ‘substitute quarrel’) – in order to find available listings. You’ll then be able to browse through dozens of offers from various professional quarrelers willing to argue on your behalf for anywhere between 5 yuan (¢74) and 20 yuan ($3). If that sounds super cheap, it’s because all the arguing is done via phone call or texting, not face to face.
Some sellers have a screening system before accepting a request; they require information like what kind of argument you want, what you want them to argue about, and how long they should argue for. One professional quarrelling ad on Taobao states that an angry phone call or text message costs 20 yuan ($3), a whole day of spam calls costs 40 yuan ($6) and bombarding your target’s phone with “hate calls” 24/7 costs 100 yuan ($15).
Once both parties agree on the terms, the deal is made and the solicitor has to make the payment via a third-party service like WeChat or QQ.
That’s because Taobao’s native payment app, Alipay, is very strict about services that could be considered harassment and the deal could land both parties in hot water with the company’s legal team, or even worse, Chinese police.