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April 11, 2016

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Teahouse ‘scammed’ foreigners

A teahouse that allegedly cheated two Japanese tourists by charging them an exorbitant price for ordinary tea is being investigated by Huangpu District government.

In a common scam targeting foreigners, three young men allegedly hired by the teahouse asked the tourists to take pictures of them near Yuyuan Garden on April 6, Huangpu police said.

The trio then invited the tourists to join them at a “traditional Chinese teahouse.”

“I thought it was strange when they asked us to take pictures of them on an ordinary road with no scenic spot in the background,” said one of the victims, a student studying Mandarin at a Japanese university who asked to remain anonymous.

Keen to practise speaking Mandarin, they went along despite their suspicions, he told local Shanghai Morning Post.

The students were then taken to the Yuyuan Garden Teahouse at 299 Jinling Road M. A waitress showed them a menu that said it cost 48 yuan (US$7.43) each and then began serving, he said. “We thought it was 48 yuan for each person in total,” he added.

The trio then talked about the culture and history of Chinese tea and drank with them for half an hour. A waitress asked whether they wanted to buy a box of tea but the students declined. She then gave them a bill for 2,100 yuan and asked them to pay up.

“The waitress said it was 48 yuan for a single sip when we asked about the sky-high price,” the student said.

The trio paid immediately and then asked the students to pay their share of the bill.

The students then handed over all the money they had with them — 1,040 yuan.

Before they left, the waitress presented each of them with a Chinese knot, a decorative handicraft, for attaching to their bags.

Many visitors targeted

The students, who realized they were cheated after leaving the teahouse, searched on the internet and found that many other people had fallen for similar scams.

“It is always the same – they are asked to take photos, are invited to a teahouse and are presented with a Chinese knot at the end,” he told the report.

A Chinese friend of the visitors posted their story on, which attracted media interest before the authorities began investigating.

“The Chinese knot is actually a signal showing they have been cheated already and should be left alone,” said the Chinese friend.

The manager of the teahouse told local media yesterday that the students ordered six different kinds of tea, including an expensive Longjing variety. “Each tea costs 48 yuan, so the total price would be 500 yuan for each of them,” he argued. “The 2,000-yuan price was for all five customers.” However, he agreed to give the students a refund.

Huangpu’s market regulator said the teahouse was suspected of violating the consumer rights protection law.

Similar scams targeting foreign tourists are common at local landmarks such as Yuyuan Garden, People’s Square and Nanjing Road E., according to complaints posted by victims online.

In a typical scenario, a group of young men and women will gather at the entrance of People’s Park pretending to take group pictures. When foreigners pass by, they ask them to take a photo of them, found a Shanghai Daily investigation.

They engage the foreigners in conversation by asking them where they are from and ask them to help them “practise English.” They then tell them there is a popular “tea performance” or “tea festival” and offer to take them.


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