Always Get a Receipt from your Ayi

Monday, April 30, 2012 2:09
Posted in category The Big Picture

Over my 10+ years in China, I have been fortunate to have some of the best ayis in town.  Usually at a premium, I have had three over the years who have been good, honest, hard working people who I (and my wife) came to rely upon.  Their stories are often the same: from Anhui, have 2-3 children (often one entering the work force), are educated to the middle school level, and have 4-5 homes that they rotate through 7 days a week.  They are tough.

But, something changed over the last 6 months as we began looking at hiring another that would help with our son, and we learned a number of valuable lessons.

One of which being to always get a receipt from your ayi.

It is a lesson we learned after firing a nanny, but being told how “smart” she was by the other women who has been with us for the last 5 years.

  • Smart we asked?
  • Ayi: Yeah! She was very smart, and taught me things I never knew before.
  • Really?
  • Ayi: Yeah, last week when we were taking a cab together she taught me a trick that if you every have to take a cab home from work (boss is late, etc), that you should have the taxi go around and around for a couple of hours so that cab fair is high… like 100RMB.
  • But what good is that, she is just wasting time for nothing..
  • Ayi: No. No. you don’t get it. What she dos is give the boss the receipt for 100RMB to show them how far she lives
  • ???
  • Ayi: Because the next time the boss (i.e. dumb expat) won’t ask for the receipt, and she could pocket the extra cash.

We have honestly been very fortunate in our time here in China, and in some measure that is because we have employed an ayi to help us.  It is a luxury that we likely would not be able to afford back home, and to that point, there are more than a few ayis who have worked that out.

So, remember folks, always ask for a receipt.

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4 Responses to “Always Get a Receipt from your Ayi”

  1. Mark says:

    April 30th, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Get a receipt from an Ayi? You must be joking. I’ve lived in China for 13 years and there is no way an Ayi is going to register at the tax authorities so that they can provide an “official” receipt. Now, they may give you a “counterfeit” receipt but that’s another matter. Good luck with your quest.

  2. Rich says:

    April 30th, 2012 at 5:17 pm


    Perhaps you should have read the post. I wasn’t talking about getting a reciept for monthly salary… I was talking about taxi receipts.

    Thanks for trying

  3. Ryan in Shanghai says:

    April 30th, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    In the last two years it’s gotten far more difficult to find a good Ayi. Few young women decide to become an Ayi – so the average years of experience for Ayi’s keep increasing. Unfortunately, Ayi’s experience is usually a direct correlation with the number of ways Ayi has found to rip you off.

    Ayi goes to the grocery market and buys some expensive things – more than were necessary. After you look through the receipts and perhaps even look through the kitchen, you verify that everything matches. Inspection complete. At this point, Ayi RETURNS some of the extra goods to the grocery store or sells them on the grey market. Ayi pockets the difference.

    WET MARKET (菜场):
    If you wander through the wet market in the evening, you will see extra receipts on all of the counter tops. Many people purchasing their own groceries don’t bother grabbing a receipt. For Ayi, these receipts are a gold mine! She goes and buys a 8RMB fish, but grabs a 45 or 90RMB receipt from the counter selling the fish. If you don’t happen to know the correct market price for that size of fish, then Ayi just collected a 500% markup…

    The boss knows the market. He knows market pricing. He knows about the fake receipt fraud. He’s going to inspect the meat delivered by the employee and therefore he KNOWS what he’s got.
    So the employee leaves the kitchen to go pick up beef at the market. Before leaving, the employee walks into the deep freeze and puts 5KG of frozen beef into their pants! Employee may get extra fake receipts at the market if needed. Employee buys another 5KG of beef — so he comes back to get REIMBURSED for 10KG of beef. The 5 he “borrowed” earlier, plus the 5 he just bought.

    And of course there are the obvious kick-back schemes…

  4. Rich says:

    April 30th, 2012 at 11:35 pm


    Thanks for the comment. Your last example reminds me of when I was working in a kitchen in the States and one of the cooks put a 25lb bag of frozen shrimp in with the garbage. got caught because he was too eager to take out the garbage.