Reputation is everything. Japan, like the United States, is a “foodie nation”. Self-proclaimed “foodies” seek out the best food experiences, searching for unique and rare ingredients. Several high-end eateries at hotels and department stores in Japan were caught substituting lower quality ingredients while advertising and charging for rare and exotic ingredients such as Wagyu beef, Shiba prawns, Kuruma tiger shrimp, and Ise-ebi spiny lobsters. The allegations brought by Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency are the least of their worries. The jury of public opinion will undoubtedly cause a drastic decline in sales for these establishments. Their reputation will take years to recover.
Deception is a short sighted revenue strategy. If you hold a liquor license, deception can lead to severe fines and even liquor license revocation. It is illegal to refill liquor or wine bottles, or to pass off a lower quality alcoholic beverage product as a branded spirit or wine. Besides, you may fool a few unsophisticated or inexperienced customers, but your big spending regulars will likely notice the difference. That few dollars per bottle savings will lose you hundreds or thousands of dollars in the long run as the regulars find a new watering hole.
If you get “caught” or “outted” by an employee, the news is certain to go viral in your local community and severely impact your bottom line.
Resist the temptation. It is fool’s gold.