Beijing Tea Scam: Avoid the Si Zhu Xiang Tea House near Forbidden City / Tiananmen Square
Originally uploaded by JoeDuck
Update: Generally, if you are approached by a good English speaker there is a *very good chance* he or she is trying to scam you or sell you something rather than “practice English”. In Tea houses confirm pricing *before you sit down* or you’ll probably be in for a surprising bill.
Beware the SI ZHU XIANG Tea House in Beijing!
I fell for the Beijing Tea Scam (also common in Shanghai) where you are approached by a person claiming to want to practice english, then subtly lured to a Tea House for a “Tea Ceremony” that is hugely overpriced.
The scam is so good I have learned that many other travelers have also been duped by this because it preys on the fact that you don’t want to insult anybody and generally are unfamiliar enough with the landscape, money, etc. that you just pay the bill. My bill was $85 for a few tea samples. I’m guessing some who fall for this never even realize that they have been scammed – rather just think they paid “a lot” for Tea as I did untili I realized this was a very clever con game common in Beijing and Shanghai. I have challenged the charge and cancelled my card and will post follow ups on this later.
The China Tourism groups and guidebooks are guilty of NOT warning people enough about the fact that generally if you are approached in popular tourism areas by people who can speak english they are usually working some sort of sale or scam. Several sources suggested to me that it is common in China for people to come up and ask to take pictures and “practice” their English. Although I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule, the notion that people are looking to practice their english is only true in that that they are improving on these very clever short cons. I think I was approached at least ten times – mostly in Beijing – sometimes it was obvious they were working to sell me something but sometimes not at all apparent.
I can only hope that law enforcement does something to prevent this during the Olympics because a lot of this may overshadow the experience of meeting some of the wonderful people of China, only a tiny number of whom are perpetrating the scams.
Beware the SI ZHU XIANG Tea House in Beijing!
Looking for legitimate tea? Try Beijing Tea Street but still make sure you understand pricing. China really takes tea seriously and some are very expensive.
You know what they say…some places get you by the rooms!
Glenn they actually did itemize the bill well into the service (so you had no way to back out). $15 for the room and $7.50 per small tea sample. Part of the cleverness is that by Las Vegas or New York Standards this fee would not be out of the question. However in China, where a fine, many course meal at an excellent restaurant will cost under $15 per person this pricing is unacceptable.
never thought that globetrotter Joe would fall in a tourist trap like this. i guess we never stop learning our lessons traveling the world. some expensive tea you got there! pua
Well, if someone wanders up and says he wants English lessons at a teahouse, I’d say ‘okay: you pay’ or ‘okay, but we go to different tea house and you pay’. Watch them disappear or suddenly lose what little English language ability they already have.
FG in my case she didn’t even seem to be picking which Tea place though I think she was careful to walk in that direction and then suggest we have some tea. It was subtle enough that even when I realized that the Tea House might be dishonest I did not realize until later that my “friend” was totally in on this scam. She actually pulled out money, bought a small canister of tea, and then gave it to me as a gift. I wouldn’t be surprised if several of these folks have agreements with more than one place so they could to some extent let the “mark” pick which one.
Pua at least I can use blog power to help others avoid this. It would be easy to really decrease the practice by taking pix of the perps and posting them online, then linking in from all the Beijing travel websites. But I’m not clear that the tourism folks are all that interested in stopping this.
The same thing happened to me in Beijing a few weeks ago. The two girls were so subtle about it and so sweet, I really fell for it. And I fell for it after fighting off hucksters and apparent con artists all day long at the Forbidden City.
Thanks for the note David. Unfortunately I think the key concept here is that there are few if any folks roaming around who really want to practice their English on foreigners. If the guidebooks had noted that, rather than the opposite, I think both of us whould have been on more of a mental alert when friendly folks walk up to “practice english”. Ironically these folks could probably make more money as legitimate personal travel guides since English is very rare in China.
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i m very intrested in ur tea house which near the forbidden city .i want to go there for have a look ,i live in beijing. i m glad to have ur reply.
to tell me the exat location of the si zhu xiang tea house.thanks
Lily I don’t have the address but it was very near what I think is called “Olympic Park” which is very near Forbidden City, down in the area with the high priced hotels. I’d guess it may not even be there anymore (NOT the Olympic Stadium area which is many miles away)
A friend just got scammed last weekend. I’m not sure of the the tea place he went to. It sure makes Beijing less appealing for travelers. In so many places people are treated to incredible generosity (Japan and Poland come to mind). Seems one should take in the sights and avoid the people to be safe.
Im an experienced traveler but this got me! my bill was $2500 aussie dollars. I paid $200 but its not the money. I was and remain very sad that my new friends who i had warmed to were scamsters, i remain determined not to allow this experience reduce my faith and hope in people. My good life experiences outweigh the bad.
I, too, was scammed while viting Beijing recently for a business trip. A young woman approached me just outside of the Forbidden City, saying she wanted to practice her English. She was accompanied by her “cousin”, visiting from an inner-province. As we walked they said they wanted to get a drink, and would I like to come with them. I thought they meant a beer or something, but instead she led me through several back streets until we got to a tea house.
We went into a small room, sat and and had several pots of tea while we talked. They also ordered some “snacks”, which turned out to be a small plate of individually wrapped crackers. After about an hour the two girls ordered some tea to take with them. They went on and on as to how expensive good tea is, and that it is treated like fine wine in China.
I, being the magnaminous guy that I am, offered to pay for the tea we drank. Imagine my surprise when I receiveed a bill of 1300 CNY, the equivalent of $195!!! I told them that I could not pay for their boxes of tea, and they told me that, no, this was the charge for the room, snacks, and pots of tea.
I’m embarrassed to say that I ended up paying, because I did not want to make a scene, and the girls and waitress were all so friendly. Now I realize what a sucker I was, and I strongly urge anyone visiting China to beware of Chinese nationals walking up to you and saying they want to practice english. And ALWAYS ask about prices before you sit down anywhere.
The charge on my credit card says “Huahuaxingchayishe Beijing”. DO NOT GO IN THERE!
Ha – we should start a club!
Cut the girls a break. They are simply making an income in a country that does not provide enough jobs. Ask for a menu and they will charge the appropriate. Don’t pretend like you can buy the place otherwise they will assume that you can.
At the end of 2008, an estimated 1.5 million Uni graduates were still unemployed in China. These uni grads come to Beijing with fresh aspirations. With the hard competition for the few jobs available, many female uni grads are left with only 3 options; which are to either to work in a tea house, brothel or to act as a ‘secretary’ performing ‘special duties’ for the boss of an IT company or the like. In the tea business, these girls essentialy employed as spruikers, more often than not can go for 4 days plus without earning a cent as they recieve no minimum wage. The girls do not enjoy the nature of this work, they just put up with it for the purpose of gaining job references in order to then apply for other more respectable jobs within either real estate or retail sales. At least then they ‘may’ recieve a minimum wage.
Prior to the Olympics, the Beijing Police Department started cracking down on such activity, but keep in mind, some girls were detained for 14 days. Businesses were also shut down and their managers heavily fined, not to mention the waitresses whom were also put out work. In a country with next to no social welfare and a reputation for human rights abuse, I’d like to think this is the worst that happens.
Making the push against these businesses can potentially ruin the lives of these girls merely trying to climb out the hole that is Beijing, all for the sake of saving the next tourist who comes along, the bill of between $85 and $195 as mentioned here. I’m sure it didn’t kill them and it’s not as if it was necessarily their last holiday to China.
Of the people whom make complaints, how many of them do you think do not admit that they initially agreed to having tea because they saw it as an instant date with two attractive Chinese girls. No doubt many of them also do not admit that they were enjoying the girl’s company before they realised the price does not agree with their standards back in their home country.
If someone tries to earn more than the average Chinese subsistance wage the only way they know how, can we label them as scammers? I’m sure you think there are millions of other hard working Chinamen earning an honest yuan, but don’t you also think that millions of other Chinamen have already summed that up?
Find a solution to unemployment before putting more out of work.
Chris the problem with that line of logic is that it creates a sort of “race to the bottom”. China is a wonderful country with spectacular culture and history. Their tourism industry, however, is pretty weak. Tolerating scams is hardly the remedy when China could have a thriving and huge tourism industry. A much better approach than scamming would be to encourage good english speakers to create some sort of “guild” with quality controls and offer legitimate guided tours which would include a powerful and positive cultural experience rather than a con game.
I fell for this too! It was the exact same girl with her “cousin”. The bill was 7100 yuan!!! they were charging 1800 yuan ($250) per bottle of wine!!!! fortunately I paid what had which was about $100 and said can’t pay the rest and left since I had already told the girls I don’t have much with me so we were supposed to split the bill.
An expensive lesson learnt!
Seriously – same person? This is probably a very lucrative niche in Beijing, though very unfortunate because it means the regular folks, honest guides, and businesses will always fall under suspicion of being con artists.
did anyone have any luck with contesting credit card or amex charges. i was threatened that my card does not work and then had to pay cash and now there is a fraud transaction with my signature
I argued this with Bank of America and finally they did credit me all of the $80 charge back. However the fraud rep I spoke with claimed that “fraud protection” does not include any signed transactions, which I felt was unreasonable.
So I’m not sure if they just wanted to keep me happy or if they actually agreed this was a form of fraud (which it clearly is).
This scam just happened to my husband and I in Beijing! Three women claimed to also be in Beijing on vacation and were very glad to meet such nice Americans, wanted to be friends and have a drink together. My husband and I each had one $4 (USD) beer, and they ordered what turned out to be $100 (USD) tea, plush a $100 (USD) private room charge. When the bill came, they wanted to split it down the middle. We caught on to the scam and refused, paying only about $30 to cover our own drinks and a small part of the room charge, since the room was their idea. WHAT A CROCK! Be careful. It’s easy to get duped.
A friend and I fell for this scam today at Forbidden City. The bill came to about 400 USD for seven rounds of tea samples. It came as a shock. Our scammers, two young women wanting to practice their english and french, negotiated it down to about 100 USD each for my friend and I then had the gall to ask if they could spend the rest of the day with us. I’m glad I’m not the only fool, ha ha ha.
Mark looks like it’s still going strong almost two years after I got duped. Don’t feel bad though – I’m a pretty experienced traveler and some guide books (VERY WRONGLY in my view) suggest that there really are a lot of folks wanting to “practice English”. Unfortunately I think many of the folks who come up nicely and ask to chat are either scammers or trying to sell you something.
Joe, it’s such a slick scam, one to admire from a scammers standpoint. I’ve had a lot of fun describing the scam to my facebook friends. Are you on FB? I will go back to get a photo of the place and post that. Could it be the same place? Will check.
Mark I’m “Joseph Hunkins” on FB. I’d like to see the pix. My hunch is that those Tea Houses change their names but keep the scam going.
I’d like to respond to a post made back in September 2009 by “Chris” (sorry, I didn’t monitor this site after my last post). I could not disagree more to the points made by Chris. I agree with JoeDuck that the women that scammed me surely had other ways to make an honest living. Saying that they had no choice is disingenuous at best. They essentially colluded with the tea houyse owners for a cut of whatever monies they could trick out of unsuspecting tourists. And to infer that someone being scammed just wanted a date? That’s insulting!
By the way, JoeDuck, if you read this post – I have a picture of the two women that scammed me, and the woman you have pictured above is one of them! So yes, she is a serial scam artist who should be avoided at all cost.
Can you send me a pic Dale, would be interested to see. I was just there and posted under streetsmart! Going back again in a couple months, will post pic of the teahouse as well
tinkello is the hotmail
You asked for a photo of the two girls who scammed me at the teahouse, but I cannot figure out how to get the picture to you. There is no way to attach it on this web site that I can see.
hey dale send to @hotmail tinkello
Yes it is a scam; and yes, tourists should be vigilant. This scam, in essence, is not morally an honest way of making a living.
Although, did you have too much pride to ask for the menu or price?
I on the other hand, went to a Tea House with two girls that had approached me on the street; and yes I did ask for a menu with the prices shown. The bill came to only 90RMB.
About a month later, I returned to the same street and was approached by two different girls. On this occasion, I did not ask for the menu, allowing them to order for me. The order being tea and fruit platters, came to around 1200RMB.
It’s clear by this, that these girls are merely taking advantage of any opportunity that should arise. It’s also clear that a tourist with a loose wallet will most likely lose some cash.
Myself coming from a Western country, parting with 1200RMB probably only affected my ability to shout myself a couple nights on the town. However, it is their primary wage for these girls.
Just a few questions for you Dale:
-Have you worked in Beijing; and in which wasn’t an international company?
-Are you one of many Chinese citizens unemployed, looking for work?
-How well do you think you could survive in Beijing as a Chinese citizen with a Chinese education, competing against millions of other Chinese with the same credentials?
Perhaps you should also take a holiday to Mumbai, India, take in the real and grim situation that remains over there and then I implore you to preach the same criticisms of a struggling and poor people that can’t always afford to live up to our Western standard of work and living. Unfortunately, our standard of honest practice still only applies to developed nations and international companies.
Regardless, I would like to see the reaction you would get if you were to tell these girls that they had other choices. If you have the opportunity to talk to some of the girls off the record, you’ll find that the facts are that they are not proud of their work; and that they do wish to move onto more honest work when the opportunity arises.
Until then, we can only be vigilant and not be so quick to pass blame on a people in which we don’t entirely understand their problems.
Be advised and refrain from posting pictures without the due consent of the people involved. The consequences to those people may be more than you would wish upon them.
Comparing one country’s social standards to another is pointless when their economic environments differ immensely.
I would not expect the same generosity as you received in Japan or Poland in a place like Sudan, Afghanistan or even China. And yet I would not blame the general public, business owners or even the lower ranking authorities, as they are not responsible for the overall social and economic conditions of the country.
Having the privilege of even affording to be a tourist, one should take the back streets of the places we visit in order to open our eyes before we try rectify a problem.
I fell for this too. It cost me about $100 (including some lunch that they bright over) which I paid to avoid making a scene. While $100 is very expensive for anything in China, the experience was actually somewhat interesting. Since I only had 2 days in Beijing, my “english speaking student” host was actually somewhat helpful in giving me tips on what to see, how to get there, etc.
And of course, I’ll never forget the memory of being scammed! Isn’t that what traveling and life is all about — creating memories! 🙂
Welcome to the party, pal. Did you get a picture? 🙂
I am a world traveler and typically aware of these scams. Alas– they got the best of me. I was a sucker for the tea scam. I sort of knew it was going on when it happened. The woman was all too friendly and I wanted company too badly after having walked around by myself all day. Exact same scenario that others described. Woman approaches says she wants to practice English. She claimed she was traveling alone as well. After walking me out of Forbidden city she asked if I wanted to grab some coffee. We walk around for a while and she directs me to a side street that she said she heard was famous. Conveniently we walk past a shop that says coffee. Next thing I know we are in a small room with ceremonial teas displayed- A bowl of cherry tomatoes and a bowl of crackers are placed on the table with out me asking. Halfway through the ceremony I notice a price list on the table next to me– 50 CNY per tea per person– plus 100 CNY for each food item that I never ordered. I ask my new english speaking chinese “friend” if we could stop the process. The woman pouring our tea brought in expensive teas– my new “friend” selected one and said it was for her parents. We got the bill– it was 1100CNY. I told my friend that she needed to pay for her own tea. She said okay ill pay for the tea for my parents you pay for the rest. i said fine- ended up paying about $100 USD and got the hell outta there. I realized that I was scammed and laughed it off as good story. In principle its wrong but $100 was worth the story.
Regardless– the warning holds true– If they approach you and speak great English.. you are probably getting set up for a scam.
One more thing– I also got nailed earlier that day for a drawing in the forbidden city. It came to like $40 USD but I liked the drawing enough to part with my $40. It will get framed and hung up to remind me of the tea scam story. : )
Jon and Mike you are good sports and I think correct not to get too upset about these things. I was in Vietnam and Thailand in February where there are also a lot of things to watch out for. Taxis seemed to be the worst. In Thailand the “Tuk Tuks” are pretty much just scammers on wheels, and although you can avoid trouble with good negotiations I think it’s probably too much hassle for many tourists to deal with. Even the metered taxis in Bangkok and Saigon could be a challenge as they’d ask to go “off meter” and then want many times the reasonable fare.
I’m not sure what the solution is, but I do know this type of thing intimidates folks – especially the older, affluent travelers that these places need desparately. Where a backpacker or experience traveler things it’s fun to haggle over a ripoff fare, for most Americans it’s just another reason to be xenophobic. This generally hurts tourism badly, and I’d urge local governments to continue to develop and use systems where you can take a picture of the certification of drivers and other service folks, and complain if there’s trouble. Camera phones make this simple.
I experienced the tea house story yesterday in beijing – but i wasnt aware of what is going on. I was approached by two young men from shanghai on a business trip and went into the tea house…. I paid the bill by cc and realised that they didnt give me a receipt. It was dumb that I didnt realize it by than of whats going on… However today i was back in this region and was approached by two young girls “english teachers”… This time i was suspicious, and especially when they wanted to bring me into the same tea house… I refused to go and went on the internet and found this site. So i went into the tea house afterwards alone and asked how much i payed yesterday. In the tea house i saw my frieds from shanghai as well… They didnt want to show me the bill, so i went out and came back with the police. Now they got nervous. I had a call with the cc company i found out the charge was rmb 8050. The police took me and the shop owner to the police station. I explained the whole story. The police made them pay me back 7800 rmb in cash. Case closed for the police…. I kust hope the money is real 🙂 thanks for posting this, i would not have found out until it would have been too late!
Beware of such Sex Money Scam in Beijing!!
My husband fell into a worse scam by a beijing masseur called Xiao Xia (first name Bing Xia). I would like to warn more people of this woman and people like her!
In July 2011, he had a massage in beijing, during the session, she kept saying many praises about him and our country people, she totally put down China men and China as uncivilized and corrupt.
Before she left, she gave him a hug and her qq address (something like our skype/msn chat) and asked him to keep in contact. My husband thought he was so lucky that this woman is head over heel with him.
He kept in contact via qq with this woman while he was doing his internet trading at nights. She started with saying how much she missed him, then proceed with flirting and eventually inviting him over to Beijing to spend a week with her.
My husband is a good family man, he never had any fling or experience in dealing with such woman. It was very hard to resist such a seducing woman. He changed his mind on day before the departure, she urged him on. This time he fell.
When he was there, she brought him to a few local tours but mainly to meet up with her groups of friends for dinners, viewing shop spaces and shopping for herself. He paid for these dinners, expensive shoppings and bought into her story that she needed his help to run a business, and will return to him the money once the business make money.
She told him pitiful stories about her background and past relationships. She kept saying that she had never met anyone who treated her so nice like him.
She literally throw herself at him by suggesting to stay back at his hotel room few nights and offering public display of affection by hugging her body close to his and whisper sweet nothings in public transport. She looked into his eyes and tells him how much she wants to be with him. She would do anything on bed by her own initiatives.
My husband was so gullible to believe in her love. Eventually at the airport, he withdrew $5,000.00 from bank Atm to lend to her after her many repeated requests during the week. She promised to return him his money, this is a loan to help her, his ‘lover’.
After returning from this trip, she initiated follow up with my husband with many phone text messages and qq chats. She claimed how much she missed him and suggested to come over here to meet him. She wanted to continue this affair and mentioned that she wants to be his woman even in next life.
When I found out about this affair few days after his return and demanded for this money back. I see through this money scam and threatened to make things very difficult for my husband which will jeopardize his career. Though repented, my husband continue to believe that she is real about him and in her promise to return the loan.
To ask for the money back, he even suggested to her to keep in touch after returning this money to me, of course there would be still money for her later on if she is real about him. However, she very quickly withdrew herself and wanted nothing to do with him at all. She doesn’t answer his calls and doesn’t care if he is in dire situation.
My husband woke up from his fantasy, and to his horror, hurt & humiliation that he had paid REAL feeling and BIG money for this slut, who is no different from any prostitutes in Beijing. She would never have gotten that kind of rate of her sexual services. $1,000.00 each time!
Our family is hurt, our lives moving forward is not the same anymore, my husband and myself also committed suicide over this matter! It’s a very painful experience for us, everyday for this whole month already, we are living through the pain, hurt, stress, distress and conflict caused by this! Our kids are affected too, my daughter went into depression and my son lived in fear throughout this whole traumatic experience! We suffered much emotional, mental & financial distress!
I would really hope that no one else need to suffer this fate and appreciate helps to spread this experience will save many others from these vicious China women like her.
She is from Ha Er Bin, claim that she is 24 years old but actually 31 years old. Her handphone is +8613436973195
I have her pictures, but couldn’t attach to this comment. Please tell me how to and I will post them here.
I meant almost committed suicidal several times over this matter, not ‘committed suicide’..
/Users/emmanuela/Pictures/Xiao Xia 2.jpg
/Users/emmanuela/Pictures/Xiao Xia 3.jpg
These are pictures of the Sex Scam Masseur Xiao Xia, from beijing..
Sorry, these pictures couldn’t be uploaded 😦
There are many honest ways of earning a living, cheating should not be condoned!!
Sorry to hear about all your scam stories! We just came back from Beijing today and we have a different story. When visiting the Forbidden City, we were approached by and English-speaking guide who kept on pushing himself despite us saying no initially. Then we thought, well, 280 yuan’s not too bad for an official guide (that’s what he claimed to be). He did, to be fair, tell us some background and history of the place and then told us about the last emperor Puyi etc etc and how he lost the throne and how he ended up. Also, that he left behind no heirs but did have a nephew who is currently married to a Japanese princess.
Excitement in his voice, he also told us that we could be very lucky on that day because the Chinese government had invited him to the Forbidden City for a few days to meet visitors. He “promised nothing” though as we had to be very lucky – maybe he had left the day before. Anyhow, shortly afterwards, he told us to follow him to a private part of the forbidden city – where only guides and staff are allowed. It seemed we were extremely lucky because the nameless ‘nephew’ was still there. We asked if we could take some pictures with him to which we were told yes, but only if we bought one of his calligraphy – the cheapest was 1,200 yuan – basically for him to write one word on a small piece of scroll.
We noticed that only foreigners were ‘privileged’ enough to meet this guy. The family before us and after us (taken there by other ‘official guides’, both bought the calligraphy and took pictures with him. We thought it was a bit steep for a Chinese word and said no. The guide then proceeded to persuade saying he really thought we were missing out big time as it was a rare opportunity and really it was just the price of a meal. I said our meals certainly wouldn’t cost that much!
When he realised in the end that we weren’t interested, he turned cold suddenly and said the tour ended there since we weren’t buying. That was when we realised the guy was just a con person who might or might not be an official guide, but I tend to believe him to be the latter as we paid his fee at the office inside with a proper receipt.
So easy to see afterwards that it was a scam. Beware, no matter how genuine they are, more often than not, they’re con people. Looking back, I think we would have enjoyed the place more without the guide and doing it at our own pace. His sole purpose was to sell us the calligraphy where he gets the most commission.
We got curious and googled about the nephew. There was no such mention. The closest to the story was a half brother of Puyi who was married to a distant cousin of the Japanese emperor who lived 1908 – 1994. We don’t know who the guy in the Forbidden City was, but he certainly was no nephew of the late emperor Puyi
I got scammed today! Two young girls, mid 20’s, Juliet and Linda, they mostly approach male tourists without company and instantly seek contact. They will take you to a house and will drink wine with you. One glass is around 40 GBP or 60 USD… and they drink 3 of them while you are still nipping on your first beer. I managed to cut the bill to 90 pounds, they wanted 220. Still annoying. I asked them to be open to me and explain this scam to me and why they are doing it… but they insist of having no idea why this place is so expensive. Rubbish.
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Well, It happened to me too!! As I left the Forbidden City I was approached by several street merchants, particularly one older woman who kept on grabbing me and following me for at least one block. I kept on saying no very politely but she would not leave. Finally a young woman who was walking by said something to the old lady and she backed off. I looked over to her, laughed nodded and said thank you very much! The next thing you know she is speaking to me in very good English and told me she was an accountant from Harbin, who was in Beiging for a few days. As we walked she also said she was married. I figured great, the woman is pleasent, she is not a hooker so the conversation would be fine. As we walked further she too said she was enjoying the talk and would I like to get a glass of wine or beer. I figured that this would be a wonderful idea.
As we walked, we passed a hotel which had a lounge, she said no as it would be too expensive and that they would have to serve us food in order to get wine. I wasnt about to argue so we walked further. We actually came across 2 different bars but both were closed at it was early afternoon.
We came across an alley and she suggested we walk down to see what was there. I am very street smart (which will help me out later) and I said No, I am not going down there. Her reply was OK we will just keep on walking. As we walked we came across a beautiful park with a small river / stream running through it. There were several tourists and people so I suggested we walk through there to see what was on the other side. Wouldnt you know it as soon as we get out of the park there is a sign TEA HOUSE WINE etc. I say look this is perfect!!! We go inside and she says something in Chinese to the staff and we enter a Tea room. Next thing you know a bowl of oranges and something that looks like dried Banana chips is brought to the table. Also a bottle of opened wine with a French Label. Not thinking much of it as wine is brought to tables in carefes (open bottles) we are each poured a glass. Next thing you know she slams the glass of wine back like a sailor and says I should do the same! Right away I start thinking what if the wine is drugged?? I tell her no and I sip it slowly. I nursed the wine as we spoke and about 30 minutes later I was sure that there was nothing in it. I had 2 glasses of wine and she had 3. She then asked that we should order another bottle. I said no so she ordered another glass and slammed it back too. She then got up and sat beside me and said what a wonderful time she was having. She appeared to be a bit tipsy. By now I figured something was up for sure. At that point I asked where the washroom was and the waitress took me to a public bathroom right across the road, she actually walked over with me and waited so now I really get the feeling something is up! I return to the tea house and the girl has now ordered tea saying this is traditional tea and we should have a cup. At this point I say I have to leave and would like the bill. She tells the waitress and says she is getting it for me. The next thing the waitress comes back in asking if I want to buy some fine tea, again I say I would like the bill and no thank you to the tea. 10 minutes later she returns with a bill and a bag. The girl tells me she bought me the tea as a gift and she was paying for the tea. I said no thank you and she said she was offended as it was a gift, I said OK thanks.
I look at the bill and everything is written in Chinese, I see what looks to be 9000 RMB scratched at the bottom. Now I know something is up. The last thing I want to do is look like I am in a panic. I smiled and said I would like to pay by credit card. This allows me not to open my wallet and show how much cash I have and I can put in the wrong code when I try to use the card so it is denied. I figured these ladies knew what they were doing when they figured the bill as I am sure they spotted my watch, cloths and label inside my coat. After several attempts in the credit card machine and my card being denied (I put in the wrong code) I said I have to call my credit card company as there seems to be a problem. Let me call them so I can get this approved. They had a phone to me in seconds and I was on the line with mastercard. Now I am standing in front of them and the guy on the phone is of course asking me my security questions and I have to answer. While I am doing this the girl is on her cell phone talking to someone. I am looking at the back of the tea house and the front door as I am talking …trying to figure out if someone is being called in and if I am going to get robbed! I then ask the mastercard guy if there were denied attempts on my card due to wrong pin number. His reply was no, the card was not used. BOOM!! the card swipe machine they used was a fake!! Yes they were trying to get my pin number and card info!!! Again, not to raise awareness letting them know I knew what was going on I said to the guy on the phone “Thank you, no worries I will pay my bill in cash” and hung up.
Now the adrenaline is rushing!!! Am I going to get wacked, whats going on. I looked at the young girl and said This is a fucken scam!! 9000 RMB for wine??? She said it was French wine and it was very good. I replied that wasnt French wine and the bottle was open. She then said OK how much you can pay then?? I replied I am not paying anything, I am getting the police and I bolted for the door!!! I ran down the road for 2 blocks and hit the main road and ran for another couple blocks full out. While I am running I am thinking either someone may be coming after me or that the police could be involved with the scam (that was my worst fear!!!). Finally after about a mile I was able to get a cab and I headed back to my hotel where I called my credit card company to have my card cancelled!
So, In the end I was smart to follow my instinct. I ended up getting a bowl of oranges, some “French Wine” and a great story to share for free!!!
Hell, now that I know the scam I would go back and drink more wine this time for free!!!
streetsmart – you da man!!! Hahaha – great story.
thanks mark I can look back now and laugh. Going back to Beijing in May. Perhps I will go back into the Tea house for a visit!!
Streetsmart, you might be on the top-10 wanted list in the tea-house district. Hahaha
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Howdy! This post couldn’t be written any better!
Reading this ppost reminds me of my good old room mate!
He always kept talking about this. I will forward this poat to him.
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Hi there everyone, and Joe Duck! I was fascinated by all the attention my pissedconsumer report got! This is Drew M from the pissedconsumer post about Dashanqing tea house and the mandarin speaking foreigner. I have an update. You can check my complaints.com / complaintsboard.com / scambook.com and a couple other sites I posted at… Because I no longer have access to the main pissedconsumer report. I can’t post updates or anything on there. I think its because I posted as an anon, and then it forgot which computer I was on… That’s because I switched out some equipment on my PCs…. But heres what I wanted to say. I have an update on what happened. So please pass the word around. Some of these sites too that I posted on, I cant even login because I forgot my login… Anyway without further delay… The update….
UPDATE; May 2015…. Just returned from China not long ago. I no longer have access to my pisseconsumer account. I will just post here.
….It turns out, the guy ” tye dye man” was more of a pawn than I was. He was dating one of these girls involved in the actual day- 2 -day scamming. It was his girlfriend, and sometimes he would just like to hang out with her.
He said he broke up with her. This guy actually lives close to the Wangfujing street, and invited me to eat at his friends home FOR FREE. He doesnt even know it, I posted his picture up, But I don’t feel good about putting his picture up with those people… Because now that I think about it, He was consistently telling me ” the prices are expensive” Like he was trying to warn me. As i mentioned in the original report… It was the girl with the dog whom told me ” we will make this more affordable” But “tye dye man ” was saying…. “Its too expensive ”
Tye dye man isn’t a scammer, just so everyone knows. He has compassion and he was clearly deeply troubled by what was going on inside that tea house. I can see that now, and as I thought about it and the events that transpired more, It became more clear to me. Also I know if he truly was a scam artist, he would never have allowed anyone to take his picture with the girls.
In regards to my money, I got it all back except 200. So truthfully i wasn’t scammed at all, even by the girl with dog and the other one! I got my 2000 back when I went back to Dashanqing in April. They were actually more than happy to give me my money back. But they were really anxious about getting me out of the tea house. So, I probably would have to say they are maybe…. border-line illegal. Idk really. But they definitely have some criminal activities going on!
So thats that. Just wanted to let everyone know what happened.