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Investigation results on claw machine stores around schools

Source:Department of Consumer Protection

To protect the rights and interests of children and adolescents, the Department of Consumer Protection, Executive Yuan(hereinafter referred to as the DCP) and the Consumers' Foundation (hereinafter referred to as the CF) worked together to investigate before Children's Day those claw machines, including the store location, the contents of the prize items and their labeling. In addition, a press conference was held to remind consumers not to indulge themselves in the games but carefully select the machines so as to avoid wasting money and nowhere to make an appeal.

Some consumers (parents) reported that distances of the claw machine stores are so close to the schools, seducing the students to linger in the stores and influencing their study. Not only do students waste money there, but some machines even put in adult products, electronic cigarettes, etc., which endangers the physical and mental health of the children. Therefore, the DCP worked together with the CF to first dispatch a team of volunteers to conduct a survey of areas around the elementary and junior high schools in 6 major cities in Taiwan and then the DCP referred the name lists to the local governments, requesting their relevant agencies to conduct investigations on the types of goods displayed in the machines, the levels of cooperation of the venue owners and/or machine owners, and the product labels.

The investigation results by the CF and the DCP are as follows:

I. The CF investigated 143 claw machine stores (Schedule 1):

(I) Location within 100 meters from the schools: 10 in Taipei City, 7 in New Taipei City, 3 in Taoyuan City, 4 in Taichung City, 2 in Tainan City, and 0 in Kaohsiung City. It was about 18% of the 143 arcades, quite a lot in proportion.

(II) Contents of the prize items: In addition to fluffy toys, plush, stationery, etc., there were electronic cigarettes, dating boxes (providing female contact information), women's underwear, sexy anime products, sexy dolls, adult toys, massage sticks, etc. None of these products are suitable for children or teenagers to purchase or use.

II. Survey results by the DCP (Schedule 2):

(I) Product types in the machines: Surveyed were 1,292 machines (actually 1,246 units, because some machines had more than one kind of products) in 32 claw machine arcades.

1. Toy goods in 755 units (58.44%).

2. Electrical and electronic products in 312 units (24.15%).

3. Stationery products in 13 units (1.01%).

4. Fabric goods in 6 units (0.46%).

5. Apparel products in 5 units (0.39%).

6. Food products in 28 units (2.17%).

7. Cosmetics products in 36 units (2.79%).

(II) Survey on the levels of cooperation of the venue owners or machine owners: 12 claw machine arcades were not surveyed due to the absence of the owners (37.5%). Most of the reasons for their absence were unanswered phones or inability to leave their workplaces while on duty.

1. 8 of the 24 venue owners whom the surveyors had contacted with were absent, and 77 of the 92 machine owners whom the surveyors had contacted with were not present.

2. 29 machines were not posted of any contact information (2.25%).

(III) Checks on product labeling:

1. Product labels did not meet the regulations: 37 machines in 14 claw machine arcades.

(1) Toy goods (such as plush, building blocks, fluffy toys, doll keychains, etc.): 14 machines in 10 claw machine arcades did not meet the regulations.

(2) Electrical and electronic goods (such as hair dryers, earphones, Bluetooth speakers, etc.): 8 machines in 5 claw machine arcades did not meet the regulations.

(3) Cosmetics (such as perfumes, hand creams, face creams, etc.): 8 machines in 6 claw machine arcades did not meet the regulations.

(4) Food (for example, snack food): 1 machine in 1 claw machine arcade did not meet the regulations.

(5) General products (such as bracelets, waist bags, environmental fragrances, etc.): 6 machines in 5 claw machine arcades did not meet the regulations.

2. Suspected illegal products or illegal machines: 41 machines in 15 claw machine arcades displayed illegal goods:

(1) Adult products (such as egg-shaped vibrators, massage sticks, etc.): 15 machines in 10 claw machine arcades were suspected of violating the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act.

(2) Electronic cigarettes: 1 machine in 1 claw machine arcade was suspected of violating the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act.

(3) Instant noodle packs labeled with simplified Chinese: 2 machines in 2 claw machine arcades were suspected of violating the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation and the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease.

(4) Exchange voucher: 1 machine in 1 claw machine arcade was suspected of violating the gambling-related crimes under the Criminal Code.

(5) Medical devices (such as OK bandages): 1 machine in 1 claw machine arcade was suspected of violating the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act.

(6) Illegally modified machines (such as the bounce platform): 21 machines in 2 claw machine arcades were suspected of violating the Electronic Game Arcade Business Regulation Act.

At present, the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Central Region Office and the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Food and Drug Administration have been urging the relevant local governments to supervise the traders to rectify the above illegal labeling problems. The local government’s Department of Social Welfare has been handling the display of the adult products. The local government’s Department of Health has been handling the electronic cigarette, instant noodle packs with simplified Chinese, and medical devices. The local government’s Police Department has been handling the exchange vouchers and illegally modified machines.

Finally, the DCP and the CF remind students to pay attention to the following points when they go to the claw machine arcades:

I. Parents and teachers should teach their youngsters a correct concept of getting some rest. If the kids feel like going to the claw machine arcades, they should remember to entertain themselves moderately and do not indulge.

II. School kids should avoid as much as possible clawing any product that is incompletely labeled and whose font is too small to be identified. Nor should they pick up any food and cosmetics whose date of manufacture and shelf life are unknown.

III. School kids should pay attention to whether the machine has contact information or information indicating the venue owner, the machine owner or the Vending Business Trade Association, so as to avoid the dilemma of inability to file a complaint when the dispute arises.