Fri, May 03, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Protesters seek Honestbee payments, mull lawsuits

NO ANSWER?Restaurant owners say the food delivery firm, whose overseas operations also face difficulties, has not been answering its customer service phone line

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

An Honestbee delivery insulation bag is placed on a scooter’s back seat in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chen Ping-hung, Taipei Times

More than 200 suppliers and restaurant proprietors have formed an association to seek payments from food and grocery delivery firm Honestbee Taiwan, accusing it of dishonest business practices and attempts to cover up financial woes.

Association members have protested over the past few days at the company’s headquarters in Taipei, where they were met by a female employee who offered an apology and said that Honestbee was making efforts to pay its creditors.

It would process delayed payments in the shortest time possible and assist business partners to diminish inconveniences down to the lowest level, Honestbee’s Taipei office said in a statement released yesterday.

A Taipei restauranteur surnamed Pai (白) said that Honestbee had not been forthcoming over unpaid bills.

He went to the protest because Honestbee executives could not be reached by telephone or other means, with the only contact through its Web site, Pai said.

His restaurant and others signed an agreement with Honestbee for online orders and delivery of prepared meals, groceries and fresh produce, believing that it would help expand its customer base and improve revenue, but Honestbee has not paid its partners in more than four months, Pai said.

“From what we know, the longest period for outstanding bills is 16 months for one business,” he said, adding that some were owed more than NT$300,000.

Business owners are angry because Honestbee has been paying its employees wages, but has not dealt with payments to partners, he said.

More than 250 Honestbee partners have joined a Line group called “Honestbee Victims Self-Help Association,” in which there have been discussions about launching legal action against the company.

Other proprietors who have said that they are owed money told reporters that Honestbee has not been answering its customer service line for the past few days.

They would probably not be paid, because Singapore-based Honestbee is also facing financial problems, while some of its operations in Vietnam, the Philippines and India have shut down, they said.

Started in 2014 by three Singaporeans — Joel Sng, Isaac Tay and Jonathan Low — Honestbee was touted as “Asia’s leading on-demand delivery service company” and has also operated in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Manila before expanding to India and Vietnam.

It was launched in Taiwan in January 2016, with Sng the registered owner of local operations.

However, Sng was fired amid reports of expenses of S$6 million (US$4.4 million) per month, layoffs and unpaid suppliers.

In Taiwan, Honestbee has partnered with major supermarket chains to supply groceries and produce, and with restaurants and small businesses to deliver food, but its services are only available in urban centers in Taipei, New Taipei City, Hsinchu City, Taichung and Kaohsiung.

Honestbee faces stiff competition from Foodpanda, Uber Eats and other delivery-on-demand services.

Chinese-language reports said that Honestbee Taiwan once had more than 3,000 restaurant partners and more than 1,000 delivery personnel, but most of them had ended their agreements.

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