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Tea Ceremony Scam Shanghai

Salt Lake City, Utah
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Tea Ceremony Scam Shanghai

I always do my research before going somewhere new. Last minute trip to Shanghai did not allow me to do that unfortunately.

Just got scammed and I guess it is a very well known scam in China so my bad for not being prepared.

I was at the Bund and asked by a nice young couple if I could take their picture. They were Chinese on vacation they said and were so happy to finally talk to an American about movies and my culture. The girl was super cute so I totally let my guard down and lapped up every word like a stray dog.

Long story short they had heard of a tea ceremony festival and were wondering if I would like to go. They seemed so nice and so interested in talking to me about America I could not resist. Some authentic Chinese culture with some really nice people...great way to spend the afternoon.

We entered a building and sat down at this table while a Chinese speaking only lady started a presentation. How lucky for me...my new friends said they could kind of understand but she was talking in the Shanghai dialect so it was a little difficult. These guys are sooo good I swear I still did not have even the slightest clue.

The tea was great and so was the presentation. I was really enjoying myself and we were all talking about how nice it was that we met. I was ready to take these guys out for beers afterwards and talk to them about China. Then the bill came and the reality that I was in the middle of an elaborate scam hit me like a ton of bricks. I have been to Thailand a dozen times...how could u be so f..ing stupid I am thinking. The calculator comes out and I cut the price in half. By half I mean $75 American. I should have bolted but I am alone and this is my first time in China so I don't want any problem with police. Now that I think about it though I should have probably started yelling police because they probably would have just told me to leave. Earlier I was trying to take pictures but the lady asked not to be photographed for religious reason...again totally believable.

I am back at the place I am staying now and will be trying to remove the hook from my mouth for the rest of the afternoon. Bad karma is coming these peoples way and I am hoping to send u all a little good karma as well as myself by warning u all of this scam which I guess is all over China :(

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Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai Region, China
143 replies to this topic
Dublin, California
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11. Re: Tea Ceremony Scam Shanghai

I am sorry this one incident jaded your view of people. With a little care and a bit of skepticism, you can easily protect yourself from scams. I can tell you the majority of the people are nice decent people. I wouldn't say "you can't trust anyone."

Lincs
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12. Re: Tea Ceremony Scam Shanghai

In our experience so far, you can't trust anyone no matter how much 'care and skepticism' you practice, there are always people trying to take you for a ride, and the best way of avoiding is to not engage with or trust people you don't know, but hey that's just my opinion.

Dublin, California
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13. Re: Tea Ceremony Scam Shanghai

Yes it's your opinion. And my opinion is that it's a sad way to see the world, esp. for travelers.

London, United...
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14. Re: Tea Ceremony Scam Shanghai

What surprises me about this tea scam is that this problem seems to be widespread and yet no one seems to have ever reported these people to the police. What is the address of these teashops? They need to be reported. It is not like a scam on the street where the person is gone and there is no way of tracking them. I doubt a tea shop would just up and move overnight.

London
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15. Re: Tea Ceremony Scam Shanghai

Wow, I wish I would have read this thread before I got to Shanghai. My girlfriend and I just got taken by the same scam.

We were casually strolling through the People's Park when a group of students asked us to take a picture of them. There were 3 guys and 4 girls and all but one of them (a guy who was a few years older) were on 'vacation' from Beijing. They told us about a tea ceremony that was only taking place on this one day of the year at a place called Champs ylsee off of Nanjing Road and behind Raffles (I had seen the building previously and know exactly where it is as I'm going to go back tomorrow).

We sat down and they explained that we would try several varieties and showed us the prices before hand. We chatted and laughed the whole way through - mostly about how fat 2 of the girls and one of the guys were that we were with! We all then bought a can of tea and when the bill came we divided it up 8 ways. I couldn't believe we were paying roughly £80 each! We didn't think much of it at the time and thought it must have been very expensive tea.

We took more pictures together with the group and then my girlfriend and I walked back to our hotel excited to tell the couple we're travelling with about our experience. We thought it was strange that Chinese students would be able to afford an £80 tea experience during the day but thought they must have come from rich families. It wasn't until I tried to look up the Champs ylsee tea house and saw this thread that I knew we had been taken for a scam! I feel ridiculous and have now learned by lesson!

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Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai Region, China
Nanjing
Nanjing
Jiangsu, China
San Francisco...
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16. Re: Tea Ceremony Scam Shanghai

Are any of these tea scam victims of Asian descent ? We are Asian-Americans (born in HK raised overseas) and we come back to hkg every few yrs. Each time i return to Hkg, I have taken tours into China since i don't know myway aorund china and don't feel competent and can't speak 'pu tong hua' well.

I took a tour to Shanghai about 10 yrs ago and even they scam the tours. I purchased my tour package in HKg . They ctually ahve different levels of "scamming" depending on where your tour originated. FOr example, if i purchased my tour back home in the west, the scam amt is the highest (i know this b/c i discussed my travels w/ my former classmate). My tour was purchased when i arrived in hkg. I also went on a tour in Mainland b/c one of cousins live there and so we booked it there.

Anyway, i also consider myself pretty street savvy and what have you. i've learned my lessons also. I learned not to buy anything from the tours. They would always do 1/2 day tours, 1/2 day visiting "factories". We were brought to a place for tea tasting. The lady who made the presentation spoke really good English (she claimed dto have been raised or educated in Shenzhen). Anyhow, 1/2 of our tour mbrs purchased the tea leaves. My friend Kathy and I didn't. But the lady waited til everyone left and just kept badgering us. She knew that we were not form Hkg, but from overseas. And she kept badagering and persuading although we had declined persistently. It was so annoying. Then she says why don't your frirend Kathy and you both together buy 1 kilo and she just shoved the leavesinto a canister and basically shoved it at us. I paid about USD $100 for my portion, supposed 1/2 kilo, which i higly doubt. When i came back to the US i gave the tea as a gif tto my uncle, who is a tea lover. He was so annoyed, telling me, to my utter horror, that tea that i bought basically was worth $2.99 and could be purchased in a local chinese store. Of cousre i wasn't happy with this. I called my crefit card company and they said b/c this happenened oveseas they coud'nt dispute the charges even if i had an address and sent the merchandise back (?) . this wasy many yrs ago so i'm not sure if anyone can confirm or elaborate.

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Hong Kong Intl Airport
Hong Kong Intl Airport
Hong Kong, China
Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai Region, China
Shenzhen
Shenzhen
Guangdong, China
San Francisco...
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17. Re: Tea Ceremony Scam Shanghai

OTHER SCAMS

along with the same tour, they took us to a cotton factory that makes comforter. It supposedly is a govt owned. We saw the assembly line and how the workers worked. My friend bought 4 'comforterers" and I one. It turned out to be soo thin (the fill was almost non-existent) that it was more like a flat sheet than a comforter. And it was very costly, too. I would have gotten better sheets than what we paid for 'comforterers'. What was the sneaky part was that they said after a demo "let's go next door for lunch" and ushered us away /b/c we were famished as we were very behind schedule. During lunch next door they would do the 'packing' . they said they will 'vaccuum pack' it so one would not be able to see the 'comfofter' actually had close to no fill'. That was the time i learned my lesson.

In another tour, we were taken to the 'pharmacy' factory. When they normally do is have a worker do a demo in which he uses a super hot chain, god knows how sizzling hot it is" to scorch his skin (intentionallY)...then afternwards he would demo using a cream to soothe the pain from the burn. B/c we were a HK tour and this is totally inhumane and unacceptable and we reaalize he was instructed as his job to do this demo, the entire tour asked him not to scorch himself. We knew he problably lost his job due to not doing the demo and generating sales. But we didn't want to see someone deliberately hurting himself for the sake of a demo. I often wonder if anyone has used a hidden camera to do a segment and get these places busted, esp if these are conspiracies they use on tours, more professional than those "street scams".

I remember when I was younger, our local cousins in Mainalnd told us to beware of such "university student" scams. AT the time i dind't know what they meant, but hearing your testimonials I'm more aware. thanks for sharing...sorry for the lengthy 2 posts...but i just wanted to share my experiences on tour buses as well.

beijing
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18. Re: Tea Ceremony Scam Shanghai

well...apparently I never though about tea ceremony shop would be a place where scamers could ripped off me and my husband...,and we never really check or doing research about this matter when we traveled, it just hit me after saw the total bill, 3500 RMB, and I was a bit wonder why the master tea lady is not so smile enough and I felt that the ceremony was in such in hurry.

as I just read the comment above, the description of the scamer seems similar as my scamers, 4 students: 3 girls , one of it with pink glasses and the boy wears also glasses, they are very sweet and cute.

anyway I realized quite late... I refused to pay 1100 yuan, they said the bill split to 3 because they other two is still young student and not earn enough money from their part time job!!!and they even put their Union pay card to the lady to pay the rest of the bill, :-)...,so I said its too expensive for me, I end up paying 600 yuan, and after I got back to the hotel...I though about it and I remember that they didn't pay by card at all as I didn't remember they sign any credit card bill or puting signature in any paper bill.

I just wish they can eat well with my money and nothing happen to them, as I believe in bad karma is always come to the bad people, and I believe it will comes to them somehow...!

be careful in Shanghai everyone...or anywhere in China!

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Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai Region, China
Sydney, Australia
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19. Re: Tea Ceremony Scam Shanghai

The scam is alive and well. We've just been scammed. We were shown the menu before the ceremony and I thought: how bloody stupid can I be ? I tried only 1 tea and had to pay 210 RMB which is also inclusive of 30 RMB surcharge. It really pays to do some research before we leave. Oh well once bitten twice shy.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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20. Re: Tea Ceremony Scam Shanghai

Agreed Sally!!!!!

It really put a damper on my trip because when I travel I love to meet locals and exchange stories and experiences. I was really having a good time and thinking how lucky I was to meet my new friends and could not wait to tell my friends back home about this wonderful experience

I have a good buddy with an apartment in Shanghai so I definitely plan to go back. I can't wait till the first couple approaches me this time. I am gonna play dumb and figure out a way that I can scam them of their money. Karma is a b*tch and no one can outrun her forever :)

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Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai Region, China
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