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Strip club accused of 'grossly exploiting' drunk Irish stag party reveller


Spearmint Rhino has so far failed to respond to requests for comment Photo: PA

Spearmint Rhino has so far failed to respond to requests for comment Photo: PA

Spearmint Rhino has so far failed to respond to requests for comment Photo: PA

An Irishman has accused a lap dancing club of "grossly exploiting" him after he spent a third of his annual salary in one night.

The man, from Northern Ireland, spent £7,500 (€9,569) at Spearmint Rhino, claiming staff took advantage of his intoxicated state and helped him spend the maximum on three credit cards.

He said he was already inebriated when he visited the club as part of a stag do. He is said to have ended up alone in a booth and was plied with alcohol until he was so drunk he was not aware of his actions.

The unnamed man woke up the next morning to find credit card receipts that revealed £7,500 had been taken in 13 transactions at the Spearmint Rhino venue in Bournemouth, Dorset.

Transactions included two lots of £1,176 taken two minutes apart, £2,304 (€2,939) taken in three separate transactions eight minutes apart and £2,928 (€3,736) in three transactions six minutes apart.

The money was apparently spent on Rhino chips - tokens customers use to pay for private dances.

The customer has spent a year battling to get the money back without success and said he has never been given a satisfactory explanation from the club for the pattern of transactions.

He has written a letter to Bournemouth council, setting out his complaint.

He wrote: "I fully acknowledge that I was foolish to enter the club drunk and in possession of several credit cards, but I have been in similar situations before and never experienced anything remotely approaching this or involving such a life-changing sum of money.

"Someone being foolish does not excuse in any way the actions of the club and its employees and the way they grossly exploited a person in a vulnerable position."

It is understood the man has previously made a complaint to Bournemouth council's Trading Standards department but no action was taken.

In the letter, the man attached a number of receipts for his night at Spearmint Rhino, one of which included him apparently signing off a £1,500 (€1,913) tip.

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He said the club was unfit to hold a licence given "the disgraceful and flagrant lack of any duty of care they display towards their customers".

He said he would never have knowingly spent that amount of money and alleges the club continued making attempts to take large sums of money from his credit cards even when they started being declined.

One of his receipts on paper headed "Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen's Club" shows a total of £1,800 (€2,295), of which £1,500 appears to be a tip and the other £300 (€382)a 20 per cent charge for paying by card.

The receipt is signed by a waitress and countersigned by the club's manager.

The receipt also lists several bullet points above the customer's signature including "I have not been coerced or persuaded to make this purchase" and "I am in full control of all my faculties".

The man described the club's attitude after the incident as "shockingly arrogant and dismissive".

The letter said: "When I appealed to their UK VP to at least be refunded some of the money he merely laughed and said 'every guy's got a little buzzed sometime and spent too much'."

He added that the management and operating procedures of a club like this should be "beyond reproach" and that the club seem to exist purely to "fleece as much money as possible from customers using whatever means possible".

Bournemouth council is reviewing the club's sexual entertainment licence following apparent breaches of strict conditions it has to meet.

Undercover officials had allegedly witnessed dancers sitting or straddling customers, placing both their feet on the seat, simulating a sexual act, intentionally touching another dancer and intentionally touching a customer.

The complainant is being supported by Bournemouth councillor David Smith who is also concerned about the club's licence being renewed.

He said: "I was shocked and concerned to hear of the experience this man had in Spearmint Rhino.

"I understand that when he entered the club he was separated from the rest of his group and ended up in a booth.

"He signed off chips on his credit card and he maxed out two or three cards and signed away £7,500.

"He has spent the last year trying to get the money back.

"People visiting these venues need to have confidence that they are run properly. Due to my concerns I have objected to the renewal of the licence and I hope the council's licensing board share my concerns."

Spearmint Rhino was unavailable for comment.

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