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Devnet's passport stamps come at a cost

SHREWD people continue to take advantage of the fever for Expo passports and pavilion stamps to make unauthorized profits inside and outside Expo.

The Devnet Pavilion in Zone B displays posters and advertisement saying FIFA memorial stamps authorized by the South Africa Pavilion and Brazil Pavilion are available inside.

But visitors can't get free stamps as in other pavilions where they are offered in the spirit of mementos. They are required to buy a Devnet Pavilion pin costing 30 yuan (US$4.50) before getting a "free" Devnet "passport."

Devnet describes itsaelf as a nonprofit, nongovernmental international organization based in Rome.

A small green handbook resembling a passport is given after purchase of the pin. It is branded Devnet "Kingdom" in Chinese, has eight printed stamps inside, including South Africa, Brazil, the EU and Columbia, a Michael Jackson "memorial" stamp, and three Devnet Pavilion stamps.

Staff who sell the pin said buyers could return with the pin and handbook to get 22 more stamps, including that of Italy Pavilion, one of the most popular Expo venues - but Italy has never offered a stamping service.

A European Union officer, asking not to be quoted by name, claimed yesterday to have been misled in an unofficial cooperation agreement with the Devnet Pavilion that the stamps would be free.

"We will definitely stop Devnet using our logo and name," she said.

The EU officer said she was told by a Devnet Pavilion staff member about its plan to create stamps for all Expo pavilions, distinct from the pavilions' own stamps.

South Africa Pavilion staff told Shanghai Daily they had never heard of this stamping arrangement. Italy Pavilion staff said they were surprised to learn of the stamp.

"I feel cheated. I saw the sign that you can get a special World Cup stamp, so I lined up but found out that you could only get the passport by buying the pin," said Jerry Chen, a Zhejiang Province student.


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