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'Cafe con' premises shut down
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The Manabe coffee shop on the 3rd floor of the Brilliance Shimao International Plaza has been closed down.

After receiving complaints by foreigners that "beverage agents" of the coffee bar lured them there to have coffee and then charged outrageous sums of money, the Manabe headquarters ordered the branch to cease business, according to the police in Huangpu District yesterday.

"The owners of the shop are now under investigation by police, and the money which was illegally obtained has been returned to victims after the management office of the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall received the complaints and took action," said an official of the Huangpu Public Security Bureau surnamed Zhao.

According to an initial investigation, besides the usual Manabe coffee menu, the Brilliance Shimao Manabe coffee bar had another menu which they had made themselves to provide alcohol at high prices.

However, Manabe headquarters said the coffee shops were not licensed to serve alcohol and they would take measures to punish the branch after further investigation.

According to a lawyer at Manabe headquarters in China surnamed Huang, the affair not only harmed the Manabe brand, but also seriously damaged the image of Shanghai, and they were treating the case extremely seriously.

A Swedish businessman had told how he concluded his Shanghai trip feeling very "disappointed" after he accepted the invitation of two young women to join them at the coffee bar and was eventually presented with a bill for nearly 5,000 yuan (US$676) for drinks.

According to him, the women ordered whisky without his knowledge which cost 400 yuan each and they quickly downed 12 in 10 minutes. Because he did not know how to contact the police he had to pay the bill.

"If the victims report to us in the same day soon after they encounter a similar case, we will immediately conduct investigations and take efforts to catch the illegal agents," said a leader of the Pedestrian Mall management team surnamed Ye.

"Our advice is simple: don't go, and call 110 to report the matter to police," he said.

(Shanghai Daily December 12, 2007)

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