Controversy has engulfed ZTO Express, a courier service based in Luyi County in Henan. The company from central China found a sneaky way of saving funds, replacing human workers with inanimate mannequins.
The footage was posted on Chinese social media showing a mannequin sat in front of a computer screen, surrounded by boxes. The mannequin was dressed in the full attire of ZTO express employee and was positioned as though intently monitoring their computer.
The video went viral quickly went viral on Chinese social media, and was met with a combination of confusion, laughter, and anger. The footage had been posted by nine separate employees at the firm. The employees claimed that the fake human had been used to save costs. Not only that but the plastic person had been ‘working’ at the company for several months.
ZTO had initially denied the legitimacy of the video. They stated that the footage had been staged, and further that the company followed government guidelines. However, the local postal administration initiated an investigation and swiftly concluded that ZTO had indeed been using mannequins as security. An official announcement stated that ZTO were fined and berated for breaking local health and safety laws.
The issues were exacerbated because one employee had previously tried to report the problem to her manager. She was told she would lose her job if she continued to cause trouble, and the problem was left unresolved.
ZTO’S tactic of denial was soon abandoned, and they released an official statement expressing regrets and apologizing for having used mannequins to cut costs. Local media reported that the company acknowledged the legitimacy of the footage and said that the Luyi branch would be temporarily closed.
ZTO stated ‘The incident has exposed the serious flaws in our branch management, we will investigate them further, strengthen our management and provide better services for our clients.’
This isn’t the first-time mannequins took Chinese social media by storm. In 2015 a restaurant in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, added a series of scantily clad female dummies to its toilets as a gimmick to entice customers.
Recently, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, mannequins have also been used for a series of strange reasons. Dummies have been used everywhere from Tokyo to Washington to help socially-distance customers. In Lithuania’s capital Vilnius some well-dressed mannequins were placed in a restaurant, promoting social distancing while simultaneously modelling clothes for local stores. Though it must be said ZTO certainly found the boldest and most bizarre use for pretend plastic people.