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The Beijing Tea Scam (and a few others)


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First of all, I must say sorry. I feel sorry for all sad stories on this thread.

If you want to buy something with high quality and reasonable price, please go to shops with “NO FAKES” sign. You can find this sign in big cities like Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, etc.

http://www.ipd.gov.hk/eng/promotion_edu/no_fakes.htm (“NO FAKES” sign / “正版正货”标志)

http://www.ipd.gov.hk/eng/promotion_edu/no_fakes/nfretailer.htm (List of Participating Retailers)

If you want to complain what you suffer, get some legal aid and get some advice, please check the links below.

http://eng.cca.org.cn:801/ (China Consumers Association)

http://www.consumer.org.hk/website/ws_en/ (Hong Kong Consumer Council )

Or know about the efficiency of the complaint hotline?

The unified complain hotline for consumer national-wide is 12315. For more details, please check the link below.


(Opinions Issued by SAIC to Promote the Construction of ‘12315 Administrative Enforcement System’)

12315 just works in China mainland and it is said that it only offers Chinese service. If 12315 can’t work for you properly, please directly contact The State Administration for Industry & Commerce (SAIC), so that they can direct you to the right department.

The State Administration for Industry & Commerce (SAIC)

Address: 8 Sanlihe Donglu, Xichengqu, Beijing, 100820, P. R. China

Phone: +86-10-68010463/68013447

Facsimile: +86-10-68010463/68013447

Email: [email protected]

If I felt less tired, I would like to write more on this thread. But I feel really tired now, so I just hope foreigners on Chinese-forums can notice my post and get some useful information. If possible, I will try to write more tomorrow.


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HashiriKata, I was just saying that I was getting annoyed with the "art students" at Wanfujing. That being said I see them as individuals and not represting the people of China, 99% of whom I have met are great people. There are plently of annoying ppl in every country (unfortunately.) And yeah it's wonderful that Chinese frequent this forum, you guys have helped me out on a number of occasions :D I hope that no laowai's posts every seem to be bashing but I can understand how some native Chinese might see them that way. China is a HUGE culture shock coming from a Western point of view, and I think some of us just need to get some frustration out when we're having "bad China days" which could be perceived as bashing. I just hope no one takes it personally, because it all stems from the fact that this is a huge adjustment for most of us and it helps to let some steam off sometimes. By the way where are you at in the UK? I'm a HUGE fan of London, AWESOME city!

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Could you please make it clearer?
Sorry for not being clear!

What I mean is that many foreigners come to China to buy fake goods. In general, they don't complain about fake goods, because they know beforehand that they are fake (they should, anyway.) As you can see in this thread, what they complain about is situations where they don't know beforehand what is actually going on.

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What I mean is that many foreigners come to China to buy fake goods. In general, they don't complain about fake goods, because they know beforehand that they are fake (they should, anyway.) As you can see in this thread, what they complain about is situations where they don't know beforehand what is actually going on.

Ah, thanks so much for make it so clear, gougou! It is really a hard mission for foreigners buying fake goods in China, especially in the case that they have to buy fake goods themselves without getting any help by local people.

Hehe, it reminds me of some thing happened almost two years ago. One of our Denmark customers wanted to buy a few fake Rolex watches for his girlfriend and his pals in Denmark, but he knew it very well that he couldn’t get a real bargain, if he went to buy them by himself. (He is a white man.) He just gave some photos of the watches he wanted to our boss. Our boss got three fake Rolex watches he wanted for him, 300RMB each.

I would like to give some advice to foreigners who want to buy fake goods in China.

First. If possible, please ask your reliable Chinese friends to get what you want for you, or, at least, ask them to go with you and bargain for you when shopping. The important key here is that you should never let shopkeepers know that you are the real buyer, before you get what you want, or they might want to overcharge you.

Second. If you have to go to buy fake goods yourself, you need to:

1.try not to go and buy fake goods alone. Ask at least one friend to go with you, if possible. I am afraid to say that two is safer than one.

2.put on common clothes and avoid to be too dressy, in order to avoid shopkeepers overcharge you that crazy.

3.make sure you have the ability to decide whether you can tell good quality to bad one without any reliable labels or instructions, which is crucial to judge whether you are overcharged too much. Even fake goods are different in quality. For example, if you want to buy a watch, can you decide whether a watchcase is made of stainless steel, sliver, hard plastic with nickel painting (硬塑料镀镍) or brass with sliver painting (黄铜镀银), etc., by checking it in your hand? Can you tell a quartz movement (石英机芯) into a stainless steel mechanic movement(不锈钢机械机芯), without opening the watchcase?

4.make sure you have sound bargain skills, enough time, patience and perfect emotion management. I think bargain skills time and patience are easy to understand, so I just want to explain on perfect emotion management. In a strange country, without mastering the local language, people are quite easy to get great tension, which is the very thing to draw their attention and lead to wrong choice. What’s more, some shopkeepers might use skills like shouting or threatening violence to put to tension on their customers (not just foreigners, Chinese people from other areas or provinces are included), to force them into submission. Therefore, please remember to control your emotion and always keep cool.

5.remember two important phone numbers: a. 110 ( for police), b. 120 (for ambulance).


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As a foreigner, my advice is a bit more simple :

1. Although knowing the number to call an ambulance is always useful, I doubt it is especially needed when going to a market and haggling for goods.

2. If you know the price of what you want to buy, then you can do it alone. Bargain however you like and simply don't pay any more (unless you know there is only one shop around which sells what you want, in which case you can pay a touch more if you really want whatever it is).

3. If you don't know the price of what you want (either because you've just no idea, or because you would know if only you knew the quality of what you were looking at) then get a chinese person to buy it for you. Another day, when you're not around. Shopkeepers generally know when a chinese person is just helping some laowai buy something and either give the same high prices or simply and bluntly tell the chinese person to get lost.

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When I am in Beijing as I dont know the price I just keep humming and harring while the the shopkeeper reduces the price. Then I say sorry and go to walk away a few times and then depending on the final price I buy there or go to a shop a bit further along and now have an idea of the price to haggle with. Once when I bought a nice silk (maybe, maybe not) jacket the seller on the market tried to sell it to me for 1500 RMB, I eventually bought it when she brought the price down to 100 RMB.

I have seen some websites that explain how to see if pearls are fake but how do you tell real silk from fake silk?

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I'll try that next time I'm on silk street.
Just realized why knowing the number for an ambulance might be advantageous...

I think you can feel the difference between real silk and fake silk, too. Not that I can, but I once went shopping with a guy who knew his stuff, and he was able to tell them apart without burning down the market. Or so he said.

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  • 1 month later...

I was in December 2006 in Beijing. Just to let you know the scam are alive and kicking.

In Wangfujing, Oriental Mall (sp?). I was approached at least 6 times. Always by a group of 2 girls, always the "art scam". I was never approached for the "tea scam".

I thought that this happens only to foreigners. Wrong! I QQ met a girl in Beijing (BJ, Chaoyang chat room). She didn't spoke a single word of English. Obviously she can not target foreigners because of lack of English. She wanted to meet right away (was around midnight). Anyway, we met the next afternoon near the Traditional Medicine Hospital.

So far so good. The idea was to go for a drink. She wanted to go to a nearby bar. It was a downstairs place, dark and sleazy looking. I smelled immediately the "bar scam". After I suggested "Starbucks" she completely lost interest and disappeared.

I am sure she is still around, her number is quite obviously not the kind of thing you need to post online.

So, whatever you do, watch out!

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Walking through Oriental Plaza is a painful experience. By the time I've exited, my eyes hurt so much from all the rolling they've done as each girl-cum-prostitute couple have mistakenly thought that befriending me can be done by rudely asking stupid questions or just saying "hello hello hello" as I walk past.

Wow, learning Mandarin makes my sentences too long.

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It's been a long time since I've last been approached by somebody in Wangfujing. While in Shanghai the other day, though, walking up and down Nanjinglu once, I was approached by over ten people, mostly for art exhibitions. Is Shanghai just worse in this respect, or do they smell I'm from Beijing? :help

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  • 2 months later...

I have been living in China now for just short of 3 months in a very small town in the Shandong Province and i can thankfully say i have not yet once been scammed.

My question to anyone out there is - does this Tea House scam only get directed to men?

Its more likely, that no-one has tried to scam you because you're not in a tourist area.

Once they've tried the scam on you, then every tourist in the town (i.e. you) knows about them, so they're out of business immediately they've started.

In 3 whole weeks in Jinan (the capital of Shandong) I never saw any other westerner!

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Once you've been in a city for a long time, know your way around and can speak fluent mandarin, there's a NEW SCAM to be wary of ...

My wife says that the police are warning locals about a scam in which a "lost" child is crying all alone. When you offer help, they'll give you an address to take them, where they're family/friends can mug you without your screams being heard.

The police recommend you should take lost children to the police station.

This probably won't work on a tourist as they won't know their way around, and if the child could lead you you'd have to be very gullible to still believe they're lost. But it could be quite lucrative if they can work the scam on one of our regulars.

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Twist on the tea house scam.

I went to Hangzhou yesterday with two Chinese friends and their 4 year old son. They fell for the taxi tout as they came out the train station (I had walked past him). They asked him to take us the west lake and agreed a price upfront. He started driving. He suggested he could take us on Longjing village where we could see the fresh tea being harvested and cooked. Price just 30 RMB - seemed too cheap. So he took us up the mountains to a small house in Longjing. The lady in the house gave my friends the full spiel about the fresh harvest, how the cook the tea and the difference between the fresh spring tea and the old tea. They then gave us a free pot of tea to taste.

Longjing tea is particularly good by the way.

Then she suggested we buy some tea. Only 2200RMB per Kg. My friends are Chinese, but they live in the UK, so they were keen to buy the tea to take back to the UK. They spent 400RMB for 220g. Now I know in some parts of china that's a decent price, but in the village they produce the tea, that must be a very high price. It seems similar to the tea house scam in concept. It would be awkward to leave without buying anything. Though I'm sure the price would have dropped if my friends had haggled a bit rather than accepting the first price.

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