Harbin customer carps on 'fishy' restaurant tab

Updated: 2016-02-16 14:58

By ZHOU HUIYING and TIAN XUEFEI in Harbin(chinadaily.com.cn)

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During Spring Festival, a tourist complained online that a restaurant in Harbin, Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, padded the bill and the staff became aggressive when they argued.

On Monday, the local government announced the results of an investigation into the incident.

On Feb 9, Chen Yan, a tourist from Changzhou, Jiangsu province, complained about being overcharged for a dinner in Harbin, the capital city of Heilongjiang.

"After visiting the city's beautiful scenery, we four families, including 20 people, came to a wild fish restaurant in Songbei District on the tour guide's recommendation," Chen wrote on his Sina Weibo. "After dinner, I was asked to pay more than 10,000 yuan for it."

The group ordered three kinds of fish, which Chen said he thought was priced too high but accepted, considering that it was festival season. "But it is very hard to accept that they gave us short weight," Chen told local media.

One type of fish served, huso, is subject to market-regulated prices and the restaurant sold it at an expressly marked price. Because the customer was not available to confirm details, the investigation team failed to get the evidence of short weight.

Dissatisfied, Chen and his relatives clashed with the restaurant staff and on his Weibo he wrote that was hit on the head even after police arrived and he was forced to pay for the bill.

Zhao Ling, the duty manager at the restaurant, told a different story.

"The event has had a bad influence on our restaurant due to Chen's false allegations", Zhao said, "In fact, our boss decided to give them a 30% discount, so they paid for 7,200 yuan."

"We display all the prices for fish clearly in the lobby and they had checked the price with the restaurant server," Zhao said, "After weighing the fish, we made out two lists with details, one of which was given to the customers. There was no objection at that time."

On Tuesday morning, Chen denied that he had signed off on the list of weight details.

The news aroused hot debate on the Internet.

Some of it sparked criticism about the price and mocked local law enforcement, while some citizens said "the fish is wild and coming from the Songhua River, so the price is quite high; even in the market, it is not cheap."

Wang Guijin, a lawyer in Daqing, Heilongjiang, said, "The restaurant has given accurate pricing information for all of their dishes and the customers had no objection with the price. It was a voluntary trade and didn't involve fraud. If the customers suspected short weight, he should have given clear evidence to the market supervision administration."

Overpricing in a fraudulent manner at scenic spots has been a long-standing issue in China.

During the last National Day holiday, a tourist was asked to pay 1,520 yuan for a dish of shrimp in Qingdao, Shandong province because the quoted price of 38 yuan was for each shrimp, not for the entire dish.

Although Qingdao's price authorities later confirmed that the involved restaurant has been closed down and its owner fined 90,000 yuan, the matter reflected badly on the city's image and many tourists may eliminate it as a travel destination.