Taxi drivers

Time to start tipping taxi drivers in Japan? Taxi company now offers passengers an option in Tokyo

Taxi operator Sanwa Kotsu is always looking for new ways to innovate. Among the services they have offered are ninja drivers and, in honor of the Tokyo Olympics, drivers with fencing equipment.

As of this month, however, Sanwa Kotsu is doing something arguably even more unusual for a Japanese taxi company by introducing a system whereby passengers can tip their driver.

Japan is famous for being a country where tipping is not done, whether you are dining out, getting a haircut or taking a taxi. Many cultural guides go so far as to say that Japanese society would consider it rude to tip, but it’s more accurate to say that it would be considered weird, like trying to tip to, say, a cashier in a department store in a tipping culture like the United States

But starting July 15, Sanwa Kotsu, through a partnership with digital tipping service Respo, has set up a framework through which passengers can tip their driver. The company is currently conducting a customer service survey and at the bottom of the card customers are asked to fill in a QR code which they can access with their smartphone camera and then select the amount they wish to donate. .

▼ The survey and the QR code, circled in red

Surprisingly, Sanwa Kotsu says there have been instances in the past where passengers have tipped company drivers, and that its partnership with Respo provides a “formal and casual way to say ‘thank you'”. to quote Respo’s mission statement.

It will be interesting to see how many people volunteer to pay beyond what the meter shows at the end of their ride. Aside from the Sanwa Kotsu drivers’ encounters with a number of outlier people, tipping taxi drivers is really not the norm in Japan. It’s also worth considering that while some drivers may have smoother vehicle control or more refined conversational skills than others, the vast majority of Japanese taxi drivers are already polite and satisfactorily skilled.

Especially for short city jaunts, it’s hard to imagine what will convince the average passenger that a ride deserves payment beyond the price structure for safe and courteous driving that is in place in Japanese society. for about as long as taxis have been a thing.

For now, Sanwa Kotsu, which is based in Yokohama and also operates taxis in Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture, says the optional tip system is only in place for its taxis operating in the Fuchu district in Tokyo on a trial basis, and the company will decide whether or not to expand it to other areas later.

Source: Sanwa Kotsu via IT Media

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