We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Tea Ceremony Rip off scam!

Which Shanghai Region hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Liverpool
Level Contributor
1 post
37 reviews
Save Topic
Tea Ceremony Rip off scam!

I have just been the victim of a scam and to relieve the anger I feel, I'm warning others.

The scam involves you being approached (in my case in Tianamen Square) by three young women who come over as very friendly and then suggest you all go for a 'tea or coffee'.

And you chat away and drink lots of tea and then the bill comes.

i can't bring myself to say how much it was but it would have bought me ten nights in my hotel.

Please please don't fall for this.

DON'T go for tea or coffee or anything with 'friendly' strangers.

I was very naive and am as angry at myself as the other people involved.

I hope this stops it happening to you.

Edited: 22 April 2011, 15:03
Sherbrooke, Canada
Level Contributor
39,345 posts
815 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Tea Ceremony Rip off scam!

This scam is well documented here. Always search for "scams" when you travel somewhere.

There are also others such as the fake art students and rickshaws that people should read about.

In any case, never follow friendly stangers anywhere.

Miami Beach, Florida
Destination Expert
for Shanghai Region
Level Contributor
6,476 posts
127 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Tea Ceremony Rip off scam!

I am sorry this happened to you, but in the past few years we have five full pages of different references to the tea ceremony scam. We could shout it from rooftops, and people still do not listen. This is also covered in guide books. Did you read a guidebook? Did you consult this Forum at all?

The currently active thread tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g308272-i2804-k439… continually says 'DO NOT FOLLOW STRANGERS ANYWHERE ANYTIME."

Miami Beach, Florida
Destination Expert
for Shanghai Region
Level Contributor
6,476 posts
127 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Tea Ceremony Rip off scam!

PS If any scam like this occurs, even though you are reading this warning, then call the police. Tell the tea house or other scammers you want to go to the local police station. Walk out and find a policeman! They shut up very quickly. The police are not on their side. You might have to pay 40-50 yuan for a pot of tea.

Charleroi, Belgium
Level Contributor
1 post
12 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Tea Ceremony Rip off scam!

Yes, the same happened to us today too - around people's square - BUT it ended well!... After paying 1600 RMB we realised a few hours later that this was probably a scam and went back to the shop with a chinese friend. The same pseudo -students were there drinking tea again, with a couple of Western toursists, We did not have a receipt, so asked for a receipt first and then once we had it, asked for the money back. The guy from the tea house was trying to negotiate and give a refund of 1000RMB, but we did not accept. We threatened to call the police and said we had pictures of the ceremony, and the "pseudo-students" who were sitting in the room with new tourists were on it, so we could prove this was a scam. We got 1500 back and let it be. We did tell the couple that this was a scam before we left. It was a bit scary, but you SHOULD definitely go back and get your money back!!! And it is probably best to bring the police with you or a chinese person you trust (well, you trust for sure I should say..)

I should say that this is the most sophisticated scam I have ever seen - it is even mentioned in tourist guides (although hard to find for people who are not so interested in tea ceremonies in the first place) but somehow it seems to survive... Beware!

Dublin, California
Level Contributor
19,086 posts
43 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Tea Ceremony Rip off scam!

Sorry you felt for this scam. This is a scam in different versions all over the world. We were in Turkey earlier this year and read about this scam in Istanbul too.

Miami Beach, Florida
Destination Expert
for Shanghai Region
Level Contributor
6,476 posts
127 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Tea Ceremony Rip off scam!

Thanks for sharing your experience. Nice looking young Chinese, approaching you in friendship, practicing their English, getting to know you, seemingly very interested in everything about you. "Let's talk some more and we can show you about Chinese tea at a ceremony...I know a little place..." 1600 yuan later, USD$250, you have been fleeced.

Congratulations on having your wits about you and not being intimidated. Your post makes this thread worthy of becoming a Top Question on the Shanghai Forum. Maybe that way we can warn more people, not just those interested in tea ceremonies.

Sherbrooke, Canada
Level Contributor
39,345 posts
815 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Tea Ceremony Rip off scam!

Good move. It usually works.

If you realize that it is scam while there you cab protest and say you will call the police. This works sometimes. If it doesn't then really call the police. Number in China is 110 (kind of like 991 in north America).

Pompano Beach...
2 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: Tea Ceremony Rip off scam!

I read this forum and it helped! We were walking around People's Park and also at the Bund and were approached many times by people who were very interested in us and very friendly. They wanted us to go somewhere (tea time) and talk some more. I did not mind talking for a minute, but I always had a place to go and told myself I would never go with anybody anywhere. I was on vacation and had my own plans. Also, my advice about street hawkers of watches and hand bags is to either ignore them 100%, say nothing, or just say "no" one time and just keep walking or if stationary just say 'no" and never give them a second word. Totally ignore them. Once you seem a bit interested, they turn on the selling jets!

Italy
Level Contributor
39,484 posts
207 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Tea Ceremony Rip off scam!

Thanks for the update, glad the forum was some help.

Valence, France
Level Contributor
3 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Tea Ceremony Rip off scam!

Same scam aiming at people getting off the Big Bus Tour at People's Square stop. A charming young couple asks you to take a picture of them in People's Square. You start talking. You walk along a little further with them, they ask you if you wish to join them in tea tasting. You go with them to a nearby tea house and there, after the tea tasting, you are asked if you wish to buy some tea. You say why not? A few minutes later you are presented with a huge bill for the tea tasting + the tea in a beautiful box. To get out of the whole mess, even though you know there is something wrong, you pay up and go. They want cash. No bills, no proof.

Clever, eh?