China’s on-demand vehicle industry was hit by yet another blow over security problems this week when a driver of on-demand van service Lalamove (货拉拉) was accused of sexually harassing a female passenger.
The incident first broke out with a post on a popular local forum. A girl surnamed Wang ordered a van on Lalamove on August 5. After she loaded her stuff in the van, the driver asked her to cancel the deal on Lalamove and pay him via WeChat in order to avoid being charged a commission fee of the platform. Although going behind the back of the platform and striking deals privately goes against the terms of service, it’s common for drivers on a lot of platforms.
But things went from bad to worse after they finished the delivery. The driver, who got the victim’s account after receiving payment through her WeChat, send her sexually suggestive messages and threatened to confront her in-person by showing up at her new home or office after Wang reported his misconduct to the platform.
In a recorded phone call between the driver and Wang’s friend, the suspect brazenly alleged that “We Lalamove drivers are all flirting with women in this way and it’s none of your business.”
These bold claims triggered online outrage, but the public is also concerned about Lalamove’s failure to follow through on user complaints. Wang says in the post that she reached out to Lalamove and want to support her accusations by providing the recorded talk, but the company refused to receive the evidence.
The logistics company responded today (August 27th) saying it will suspend the driver’s account permanently and promised to improve their service. But it runs a somewhat different story in communication with Wang, claiming that they couldn’t reach her after trying various means.
Lalamove, also known as EasyVan or Huolala, began with a focus on Hong Kong and Southeast Asia and gradually expanded to mainland China. The company just raised to unicorn status after receiving a $100 million round from Xiaomi-backed Shunwei Capital.
The news drew public attention as safety problems in China’s on-demand mobility services raise eyebrows of passengers. Didi has suspended its carpooling service after a second passenger murder case in four months.