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July 30, 2011

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Home » Metro » Public Services

Sham 'Shanghai tours' bring grief to customers

DESPITE continuous crackdowns by local tourism authorities, unlicensed touring agencies are back at local Metro stations, cheating passengers with cheap "one-day tour around Shanghai" packages this summer.

Those touring "services," charging as low as 100 yuan (US$15) per person, promise people they will be taken to the city's main attractions. But the patrons often end up stuck at a high-end shopping mall, pressured into buying expensive goods, tourism authorities warned. The agencies, who have relationships with the mall stores, get kickbacks from the merchants for any purchases made by their customers.

A man surnamed Guo from Fujian Province complained that his 70-year-old mother was hospitalized for bone fractures after she was pushed to the ground by a manager of such a travel agency during a one-day Shanghai trip on Monday.

Guo said he received advertising leaflets from migrant workers at the Metro station, with travel agencies boasting that by paying 100 yuan each the tourists could enjoy an one-day trip around Shanghai.

A map on the leaflet shows they would visit the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Jin Mao Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Center and other attractions, but when they paid the money and got on the bus, they were taken only to shopping malls, according to Guo.

"We called the company manager for a refund, but he only argued with us and pushed my mother down on the ground" after he came to talk about it, said Guo.

Guo said his mother suffered bone fractures on her arms and that he paid 30,000 yuan for the surgery.

An official surnamed Yang with the Shanghai Tourism Management Committee told Shanghai Daily that although they had been cracking down on the illegal agencies for years, the business is still booming with more and more tourists coming to the city.

"Once they are caught cheating customers or beating them, they can be detained by police for 15 days," said Yang. "Then they come out and do the same cheating again."

Yang said there is a high demand for cheap tours because many tourists don't want to pay expensive fees to big travel agencies.


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