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Raw chicken feet can be purchased at a tuangou

What is tuangou?

A group of Chinese shoppers, all looking for a deal on the same item, get together and tuangou. That is, they shop as a group, demanding a volume discount from the seller.

How do these shoppers organize?

Shoppers organize online. The Web-as-community concept in China is quite developed -- shoppers will gather at a shopping Web site or hobbyists' URL, or one set up specifically to draw tuangou group shoppers.

What are negotiations like?

Have you read Lord of the Flies? It can get pretty aggressive in a hurry; there's a fine line in Chinese society between bargaining and shouting. Many outsiders can't tell the difference. Sometimes there's no face-to-face contact at all and the whole negotiation is done online.

What can you tuangou in China? And how cheap?

Here are just a few examples of what you can tuangou:

  • Books: "What It Really Takes to Profit in a Wal-Mart World" lists for $5.59. Tuangou site www.go2book.net price: $3.91 (37 percent off).
  • Electronics: A Japanese brand Sharp LCD TV 42-inch, 16:9. Original price: $2058.67 in the U.S. Tuangou site www.tg.com.cn price: $1,441.18 (30 percent off).
  • Doctors' visits: Health checks for women over 30 includes height, weight, blood pressure, pulse, body mass index, physical examination, medical tests, ophthalmic test, E.N.T. test, gynecological examination, blood routine examination, blood sugar determination, lipid screen, liver function test (TB ALT), renal function screening, HBV test, tumor marker filter, uroscopy, electrocardiographic examination, color B-ultrasonography, mammogram, one healthy meal and final report. List price: $88. Tuangou price: $70 (20 percent off).
  • Auto insurance: List price for a car worth $25,000 is $1,035. Tuangou price: $838.38 (19 percent off).
  • Plastic surgery: Surgery to create "double eyelids," or the appearance of larger eyes: $147. Tuangou price: as low as $100. Liposuction: $441 for one area. Tuangou price: $300. Nose job: $294, Tuangou price: $256 (up to 47 percent off).
  • Gym memberships: Shanghai Will's Gym: $632/year. Tuangou price: $294 /year (54 percent off)
  • Diamonds: 0.7 carat original diamond: $2,647. Tuangou price: $1,470. One carat orginal diamond: $4,118. Tuangou price: $2,941 (up to 44 percent off).
  • Chicken feet: A 100-gram pack of Youyou Sichuan chicken feet: $0.56/pack. Tuangou price: $0.44/pack (22 percent off).

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