10 bizarre services you didn’t know you could get on Taobao

Old China hands know that you can get anything under the sun on Taobao. But have you heard of Taobao’s service section? It’s aptly named life.taobao.com, because you can rely on it for everything in your life. From professional editing, translation, and legal consulting services to wedding pictures, pet care and house cleaning, there’s everything you’ve ever needed and also people offering weird talents you never knew you needed. Here are some of the things you never knew you could do on Taobao.

1. Get someone to name your kid

taobao baby names

Guaranteeing happiness for life with the right name, there are many Chinese fortune telling masters plying their skills on Taobao. These experts perform a series of calculations according to the time and date of birth using the ancient Chinese five elements theory. This service ranges from one RMB for a software-generated name to RMB 48,888 for the service of a company that has received an award from CCTV.

2. Buy a bespoke English name

taobao bespoke english name

For RMB 30, you get five suggestions from a Chinese and an English/American native speaker working together. They also do company names, trademarks and shop names. After paying, all you have to do is fill out a form and they send you their suggestions. One satisfied customer said: “the names were very fashionable and very western….you can tell that an educated person picked them out.”

3. Book wake-up calls

taobao wake up call

Most of the shop owners offering manual alarm clock services seem to be pretty girls, but wake-up calls from both genders are available. One female entrepreneur charges eight RMB for a call before 7am, five RMB after 7am, and also sends good morning and goodnight texts for one RMB. One satisfied customer wrote: “She called me three times to make sure I was awake. If this wasn’t Taobao, I think I would fall in love with her. I was very moved. I haven’t had a girlfriend for two years. I suddenly got the feeling that it’s great to have a woman.”

4. Find a professional breast massage therapist

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Professional breast massage for lactating mothers is a big business in China. Using traditional Chinese medicine techniques, these therapists (some certified, some not) come to your door and gives new mothers a massage to facilitate lactation if they’re having difficulty breastfeeding. One popular therapist Jessica Jiang charges five RMB for an appointment and comes to your door for RMB 600. Customers say she’s very professional on her comments section.

5. Get your girlfriend/boyfriend back

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Love experts on Taobao can help you get the girl/boy of your dreams, get your girlfriend/boyfriend back, and even break up with them for you. One service will talk to you to understand the situation, give you suggestions on what to do next, then after you do it, suggest the next step. This consultation service lasts for two months. One satisfied customer says: “The goddess of my heart has finally agreed to go out with me! Although this is just the first step, I’m sure I’ll win her heart soon!”

6. Heal cancer

taobao heal cancer

For just RMB 99 with a RMB 20 shipping fee, you can get a charm for your loved ones with terminal cancer, with a promise from the vendor to return the payment if they are not cured. Customers send a fortune teller in Thailand the name, sex and birthdate of a loved one with an address, or photo attached, and the fortune teller will carry out a series of ceremonial procedures to bless the charm. After receiving the charm, the person being blessed carries it with them or puts it in their pillow or in their bedside drawer. This Taobao shop has 10 positive reviews, with (surprisingly) only one negative reviewer calling the shop owner a cheat.

7. Have a virtual relationship

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For the lonely people out there, you can pay someone on Taobao to be your virtual boyfriend/girlfriend. One shop owner proffering boyfriend services charges RMB five for one hour of a puppy love experience, RMB 1200 for one month of a serious relationship, and half an hour of video chat for just RMB 90. Other shops offer all types of anime scenarios, even one where you can have relationships with five girls at a time through QQ or WeChat (RMB 250 for a day). But don’t get too excited just yet – they don’t offer phone sex services and most shops tell you to keep your conversation clean.

8. Pay someone to shell your crabs

taobao shell crab

A search on Taobao turned up two shops who offer this service. One shop owner was purportedly an ex-flight attendant who was paid ten RMB per crab and an extra five RMB to feed it to her customer. Chinese online media have done reports on her, though I’m not sure how she provides nation-wide service from Henan. One reviewer says her service is “okay”. The other shop owner in Shanghai’s Jingan area charges RMB 30 to shell a crab and RMB 10 to peel a shrimp.

9. Yell at someone

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For just RMB 10, you can call someone to vent your anger. One comment provided by the shop owner says: “This service is great. You can even hire someone to yell at people for you.” At the same shop, you can pay for people to make calls for you. It offers apologies, blessings, calling in sick, wake-up calls, and even phone errands.

10. Get someone to wait in line or go for a run with you

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Finally, there are people offering all kinds of general errand-running services. They’ll do anything you can think of, as long as it’s legal. You can hire someone to wait in line at the bank, the cinema, and even line up for appointments at the hospital. There are even shops that specialize in waiting in line all night. One customer was very grateful for a Beijing errand runner who promptly brought her Yaoji’s fried liver after she messaged him at 2am saying she had a craving.

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Catherine Lai

Catherine is a writer and photographer from Canada, she came to Beijing looking for a challenge. She is interested in how we use technology and the way it changes who we are.

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