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Tourist's money returned as café chain drops outlet
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Authority in Shanghai's Huangpu District has asked a local newspaper to deliver money to a Swedish tourist after its report exposed his café con story that cost him almost 5,000 yuan (US$676) for beverages and alcohol in a coffee shop.

The district's Industry and Commerce Bureau sent 4,966 yuan to Shanghai Morning Post and asked the newspaper to deliver it to the Swedish businessman. He was lured by two young women to a Manabe coffee shop last month on Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall, where he was eventually presented a huge bill for alcohol that the women drank, the newspaper reported today.

The man, a department manager at OMX Group, Sweden's biggest Stock Exchange, returned to Sweden after he wrapped up a group business trip to the city last month in "huge disappointment."

The women, so called "beverage agents" hired by the Manabe coffee shop on the 3rd floor of the Brilliance Shimao International Plaza, lured the foreigner to the shop with the excuse of practicing English. They downed 12 glasses of whiskey in 10 minutes when the Swedish man took a phone call on the night of November 27.

Each whiskey cost 400 yuan at the shop, according to previous reports.

An initial investigation found that, besides the usual Manabe coffee menu, the Shimao Manabe had another menu which they had made themselves to sell alcohol at inflated prices.

The shop has been closed down, according to previous reports.

Meanwhile, Manabe headquarters reached an agreement with Brilliance Shimao International Plaza to evict the Shimao Manabe outlet, the report said.

"We cannot include the Shimao branch in our business any more as it has become a dirty spot on our brand," Lin Yinxiu, deputy manager of the Development Department of Manabe Co, told the newspaper.

Manabe headquarters is considering a lawsuit against the Shimao branch to seek compensation for "spoiling the brand's reputation," Lin added.

Lin also emphasized that Manabe branches are not allowed to serve alcohol and customers should only be presented with standard menus printed by headquarters.

Customers can call 021-52390920-313 to report any Manabe branches if they fall prey to similar café cons, the report said.

The hotline only offers service in Chinese.

(Shanghai Daily December 14, 2007)

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