It's not easy being a delivery guy.
The point was driven home earlier this week after someone posted a video online of a deliveryman in Guangzhou going down on his knees to apologize to a customer for an error.
The 8-second clip shows two deliverymen facing a woman, apparently their customer. The man closer to the camera calls on his coworker to kneel down and apologize.
“Get down on your knees to apologize, go down. We need to be sincere, apologize to her."
The delivery guy responds by getting on his knees. He can be heard saying, "I got it wrong with the express package, I was wrong, I’m on my knees to apologize to you."
Watch the entire clip below (VPN off):
The incident went viral; by this morning, one TV news report containing the clip had garnered more than 45 million views.
The apology itself took place on July 22, in a shopping complex in Guangzhou's Haizhu District, Southern Metropolis Daily reported. A customer surnamed Li had submitted a complaint about a lost package, and the two deliverymen were attempting to get her to withdraw it.
Although netizens initially suspected and lashed out at Li for getting the delivery guy to kneel for her, Li later insisted that it wasn't her doing. In a letter, the delivery company that employed the two men also confirmed that abject apology was 'individual behavior.'
The man in the video was fined RMB1,000 for his mistake and, according to a friend of his interviewed by Chinese media, has gone back to his hometown.
His friend stated that besides the fine, a deliveryman's work can be significantly affected by a customer complaint: "This is never-ending, you can’t do anything at all."
The recent incident apparently also took its toll: "He feels that he has no dignity left."
Ms. Li didn't escape unscathed either. In the latest frightening example of China's 'human flesh search engine,' angry netizens tracked down her personal details and spread them on social media. Li told TV news reporters that she's been receiving anonymous, harassing texts and calls from around the country.
A WeChat post reveals Li's full name and company, and falsely accuses her of making the delivery guy kneel
Although she's reported the incidents to police and the delivery company has managed to take some videos down, Li is planning to leave her job as a result.
The whole series of unfortunate events can be traced back to China's high-stakes delivery industry. Li submitted a report about her package to the PRC State Post Bureau's website for complaints, which delivers fines and warnings to companies that don't address customers' issues satisfactorily within seven days.
According to a 'top level' employee in the industry, deliverymen at fault will certainly get fined. Also, due to fierce competition, multiple warnings can do major damage to a company's reputation.
Although the feedback system has contributed to China's super-efficient, responsive delivery network, it also begs the question: are we putting too much pressure on deliverymen?