2016-09-08 14:18:27

While people around the world are breathlessly discussing the latest Taylor Swift love affair gone awry, China’s netizens have something else on their minds: money.

That’s because it’s payback time for those who had the foresight to visit e-commerce website Taobao three months ago and purchase “breakup insurance” that would show them the proverbial money if Swift and Tom Hiddleston parted ways.

But while some are reveling in the duo’s breakup, the latest celebrity news has insurance vendors scrambling to find funds to make good on their “policies.”

A screenshot from Taobao.com shows the price of ‘break-up insurance’ for Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston set at 1 yuan.

A screenshot from Taobao.com shows the price of ‘break-up insurance’ for Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston set at 1 yuan.

When Swift and Hiddleston started dating, some enterprising vendors on the online shopping site promised customers double or triple payback on their investments should the celebrity couple split up within a certain period of time, such as one month or half a year. This seemed like a moneymaking opportunity to net users aware of Swift’s track record of highly public relationships that quickly fizzle out.

One vendor surnamed Tu, who declined to give his full name, had sold nearly 700 of the so-called breakup insurance policies since he set up his Taobao shop in June. A Taylor Swift fan himself, Tu said he opened the store for his own amusement.

But now, the lark has become a burden for Tu — he has to pay back 1,400 yuan (around $210) to his buyers. Despite earning 200 yuan on each insurance deal, he will end up losing around 500 yuan.

Tu said several customers have asked him for payouts, and most of them want double the money they initially invested. Strapped for cash, Tu has has no choice but to try to persuade some of his customers to abandon their premium claims. “I will try to communicate with them first,” he said, “but I will need to handle all of this in my spare time, because I still have to work my day job.” Tu is a recent university graduate in an unpaid internship.

Meanwhile, some customers are discovering that other insurance sellers have either dropped the product, closed up shop completely, or simply fallen silent.

Zheng Chenye, a 21-year-old college student, paid 5 yuan on Taobao to buy a policy that promised to give her back 15 yuan if Swift and her significant other broke up within a year. “It was just a few yuan — it didn’t matter to me whether they lasted that long,” she told Sixth Tone. “I just wanted some fun.”

Later, Zheng discovered that the vendor she used had gone quiet on Taobao. She attempted to contact the shop owner in the following months, but so far she hasn’t received a reply.

For its part, Taobao said it encourages buyers to be cautious when buying certain kinds of insurance through its website.

“Because such unqualified insurance products will naturally have payment problems, customers should be aware of the risks and make more careful purchasing decisions,” said Liu Xiaojie of the company’s public relations department.

(Header image: Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston take a selfie during a vacation in Rome, Italy, June 23, 2016. TheImageDirect.com/BEESCOOP.COM/IC)