TAIPEI (The China Post) – Have you ever run out of toilet paper? Well, one of the biggest news in Taiwan last year was a shortage of toilet paper amid pricing panic for which RT-MART was allegedly responsible. The incident started with a press release announcing that the price of tissue paper would be raised by up to 30 percent, starting in February 2018. A piece of news that received wide publicity from the media and created a real-life “butterfly effect.”
The butterfly effect is the idea that small things, such as a butterfly flapping its wings, can have a major impact on a complex system, like creating typhoons. Chaos literally started from after the release of the press release that quoted suppliers for announcing the drastic increase in prices of major tissue brands, between 10 percent and 30 percent.
Two other hypermarket brands confirmed the information after the news went out. They said that they also received the aforesaid notice from their suppliers, but they thought that the timing and the actual amount of the increase were still under discussion. They never thought that RT-MART would let the cat out of the bag first.
As the message went out, however, consumption skyrocketed; customers went crazy and just rushed to the hypermarkets to grab and pile up tissue paper. Costco, A.mart, and Carrefour became the “collateral victims” of this situation.
Netizens later on nicknamed the incident: “The war of tissues” or even “The pacification of poos” which is homonymous in Chinese to a historically renowned revolt called “A Lushan Rebellion.” The Fair Trade Commission eventually investigated the case and slammed RT-MART, the alleged “chief culprit,” with an NT$3.5 million fine.