Some time back, a friend of mine told me that he encountered an interesting scam along the streets of Shanghai.

He was walking along the busy streets of Nanking Road, when 2 ladies approached him and said that he looks “familiar” and has met him somewhere. They started talking about familiar places, and events where they could have possibly met by accident. After chatting for sometime, the ladies would say that they are tired and suggested going to a nearby cafe for a drink together.

So while they walked along the busy street, the ladies would “incidentally” suggest visiting a Cafe inside one of the shopping malls. They went up, found a nice seat by the window and continued with the conversation.

When the waiter brings the menu over, the ladies proceeded to order some food and drinks. As a gentleman, my friend did not mind giving his two new friends a treat. Afterall, the price of the food and drinks look reasonable.

Then the chat went on and when everybody seemed to be enjoying it, the ladies suggested that they would like to drink some red wine. They called the waiter and ordered a glass of wine each, without even referring to the menu. Throughout the entire conversation, they ordered at least 4 glasses of red wine each.

Everything seemed fine except when the bill came. My friend was shocked to find that the bill costs in excess of 2700 RMB (more than US$385). The high cost was due mainly to the red wine, which costs 200 RMB a glass. The 3 of them had drank a total of 12 glasses of red wine, and the price of the wine alone was 2400 RMB (US$340). He was furious but managed to control his anger while he challenged the waiter to the bill. Then the manager came along and showed the menu with the red wine priced at 200 RMB per glass.

Eventually, he paid the waiter and walked off, knowing that he has been scammed. We believe that the ladies were hired by the Cafe to hook up tourists and passerby along the busy Nanking street to scam their money.

So what is the lesson learnt here: Always check the price stated in the menu before ordering, and always keep a copy of the menu on the table instead of allowing the Waiter to take away. They might even change the price on the menu when billing.

We are unaware if similar scam occurs in other places, but anyone travelling to China should be aware of this scam.