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[March 2016]

Never enter a rip-off bar! - Cheerful mood vanishes, ends up with hefty charges -

Local consumer centers and similar organizations across Japan have received inquiries and complaints about so called "rip-off bars". These bars attract customers on the street and charge extortionate service fees, which they never imagined before entering.

Various tactics of rip-off bars have been reported. In most cases, consumers reluctantly paid the fees after being pushed to do so. Some consumers realized that they had been charged hefty fees after a while.

Once you enter a rip-off bar, there will be a trouble about service fees, which is very difficult to avoid. Accordingly NCAC has decided to provide information as well as issue a warning to consumers by clarifying the characteristics and problems based on the cases of inquiries and complaints in order to prevent the occurrence and spread of these troubles.

Sample cases of inquiries and complaints

I was forced to pay hefty fees, which were different from the talk by a puller-in.
I was forced to pay hefty fees in several different ways.
I used a credit card in a bar during my business trip. After that, the settlement was carried out many times.
I fell asleep in a bar, during which my credit card was used before I knew it.
The amount deducted from my credit card account was several times higher than I had expected.
My ID card got copied. At a later date, I was charged for the service.
A non-Japanese traveler consulted a local consumer center about a trouble in a rip-off bar he experienced during his previous visit to Japan.

Characteristics identified based on inquiries and complaints

1. Before entering a bar

  • Consumers tend to be solicited when walking around an unfamiliar downtown and/or when already drunk.
  • Consumers are told something attractive when solicited.

2. When entering a bar

  • Consumers tend to believe a sales talk by a puller-in and don't take a good look at a price list in a bar.

3. When making payment

  • The amount charged is higher than expected.
  • Sometimes consumers are threatened and forced to pay charges.
  • If consumers don't have enough money, they are taken to ATM at a convenience store to withdraw cash or are forced to use a credit card.

4. At a later date

  • Sometimes a consumer's ID card gets copied before going out a bar. At a later date, a bill is sent to the consumer or the consumer is told to visit the bar again to make payment.
  • Sometimes a hefty billing amount is found out at a later date (e.g. The amount deducted from a credit card account is far higher than the amount indicated by a cashier; A credit card did not work because the billing amount exceeded the credit limit).

Issues revealed by these inquiries and complaints

  1. A hefty billing amount is charged, which is totally different from consumer's expectation.
  2. Rip-off bars try various ways to make customers pay anyhow.
  3. It is difficult to redress these damages.

Advice for consumers

  1. Be aware of their tactics. Never enter suspicious bars!
  2. Don't follow any puller-in!
  3. If you get in trouble, consult with police.
  4. If in doubt about a bill, contact the credit card company concerned.
  5. Consult your local consumer center.