Klook Caught Facilitating Illegal ‘White Taxi’ Services — A Scoop

Klook website screenshot

It has been discovered that the travel activities booking site ‘Klook,’ operated by Klook Travel Technology, is arranging so-called ‘white taxis,’ which operate without proper licensing.

‘White taxis’ refer to illegal taxi services using private cars with white license plates instead of commercially registered green-plated vehicles. This is a violation of the Road Transport Act, and offenders could face imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to 3 million yen. Users also run the risk of not receiving compensation in the event of an accident. This revelation marks the second case following Booking.com, where a travel booking platform has been found to facilitate the arrangement of ‘white taxis.’

Transfer service confirmation email

Upon selecting ‘Yichuxing’ service provided by Klook, an email was received from a company called ‘BB-Trip.’

BB-Trip website screenshot

Researching ‘BB-Trip’ leads to a Japanese website (https://japan.bb-trip.com/), which includes photos of vehicles that appear to be properly licensed with green plates.

Car with white license plate at Haneda Airport

However, the vehicle sent to Haneda Airport was a private car with a white license plate.

Interview with the driver

Upon inquiring with the driver, it was revealed that the driver was on standby in the area and responded to requests received via email. The vehicle provided was not the ‘Economy 4-seater (Toyota Altis or equivalent)’ as described at the time of booking but a ‘Toyota Voxy,’ which was the driver’s personal vehicle.

On December 12th, a spokesperson stated, “The safety and security of our customers are our top priorities. Klook’s policy requires all suppliers to maintain valid licenses to operate and provide their services. We have procedures in place to verify that all our partners possess the necessary licenses to comply with relevant regulations. As a global company that abides by local policies, we regularly verify our suppliers’ compliance with applicable legal requirements. We do not engage with partners who cannot provide ample license documentation and proof of compliance with laws,” denying the accusations.

Founded in 2017, the Japanese arm of Klook Travel Technology, headquartered in Hong Kong, is known for its booking services for travel activities and local tours. It has also received investment from the SoftBank Vision Fund and has a track record of co-promotion with the Japan National Tourism Organization.

If we interpret the spokesperson’s response to its fullest extent, it implies that the affiliated partners are unilaterally providing services that differ from the contract. Further, it can be said that the company’s verification procedures are grossly inadequate and nonfunctional.

Further information about unauthorized services

Moreover, the vehicle reservation in question was made before receiving responses to our inquiries, but the ride took place afterward. This implies that ‘white taxis’ were still being arranged even after prior article publication and inquiries, indicating either a lack of coordination with the partner services or an inability to control the affiliates.

Not only do other foreign-owned OTAs like the ones discussed in the article provide similar services, but there are also service providers like BB-Trip operating with Japanese websites. With the intensifying movement towards legalizing ride-sharing, strict enforcement by regulatory agencies against such potentially illegal services is critical to prevent further chaos after the ride-sharing legislation is passed. Future developments warrant attention.

This article was generated using automatic translation by GPT-4 API.
The translation may not be accurate.