Several customers told AI Caijing News that they had encountered fraudulent movers on the platform, who charged them many times the amount shown on Lalamove’s app, subjected them to unreasonably long delivery windows, held their items hostage for additional surprise fees, and left them with damaged goods. Some complained that the drivers didn’t match their profiles on the app.

On Heimao Tousu, a consumer service platform owned by Sina, there were over 3,200 complaints regarding Lalamove, most of which concerned fraudulent conduct or unprofessional behavior by its drivers.

On top of all the complaints, AI Caijing News noted that since its launch in 2013, Lalamove has been dealing with a seemingly nonstop barrage of car accidents and lawsuits. In a typical case in 2018, a passenger sued the company after a Lalamove driver was found at fault in an injury-causing accident. In its initial ruling, a court in Shenzhen ordered Lalamove to cover part of the compensation because the driver had no qualification to provide shipping services and his vehicle was not registered — an indication of Lalamove’s inadequate background checks on drivers, the court said.

But the court later walked back its decision after Lalamove’s appeal, in which the company argued that it was merely an agent connecting drivers and passengers, and that because Lalamove drivers were technically independent contractors, not employees, the company could deny liability for crashes involving its drivers.

But despite Lalamove’s fraught history with both its drivers and passengers, a cohort of investors — including high-profile firms Sequoia Capital and Hillhouse Capital — have continued to pump an eye-popping amount of money into the company. Last year, after announcing an ambitious plan to extend its network to more lower-tier Chinese cities, Lalamove

raised $515 million

in Series E funding, giving it a valuation of around $8 billion valuation.

But the past week has been a reality check for a company that is used to positive attention from deep-pocketed investors, and the company seems to have finally decided to do something about its safety problems. In a


(in Chinese) released on February 24, Lalamove announced the creation of a “safety overhaul” team led by its founder and CEO Zhōu Shèngfù 周胜馥, who would oversee the implementation of seven measures to improve rider safety, including an audio recording function, stricter background checks on drivers, and swifter responses to “major safety accidents.”

The reckoning is long overdue, according to many internet users in China. “I’m furious that it took someone’s life to make Lalamove realize that it needs to do something. But I would give it props for announcing concrete plans. It gave me hope,” a Weibo user


(in Chinese). However, others said that they had already lost trust in Lalamove, and that trust would never be regained. “Your apology is not accepted. Too late,” wrote another person.