China’s most popular search engine, Baidu, has been accused by mainlanders of providing users with untrustworthy results again. This time, Baidu is accused of failing to verify travel agencies. The Baidu credit verification system is specifically in the spotlight.
Recently, the Shenzhen Consumer Council reported that a group of more than 40 mainlanders complained about their poor travel experience after using the services of a Baidu credit verified travel agency.
According to a report by ThePaper, a mainland resident, surnamed Xu and over 40 other people paid for a five-day and four-night package tour from a travel agency that Baidu had verified. The package tour included only sightseeing activities without other options, such as shopping.
After arriving in Hong Kong, Xu and the other mainland tourists were informed that their original sightseeing plans had been canceled, and they were forced to go shopping instead.
The tour ended up consisting of only one day of sightseeing and four days of shopping.
What was even more surprising to the mainland tourists was the fact that their accommodation and food were both largely downgraded too.
The Baidu credit verification system charges advertisers in order to prove the authenticity of their websites in the search engine.
Xu and the other people in the group had searched for a travel agency named China International Travel Services Limited (CITS), a reputable travel agencies in mainland China.
However, the website which Baidu forwarded users to, despite being verified, was a fake page that tricked the tourists into booking from an unlicensed travel agency.
According to the Shenzhen consumer authority, during the Chinese Spring Festival it received a total of 26 complaints regarding Hong Kong and Macau tours, 50 percent of which were about booking with the Baidu-verified travel agency.
The Shenzhen Consumer Council has already issued a letter to Baidu demanding to know how the company is ensuring accountability when so many consumers’ rights have been violated through their “safe visits” on the search engine.
Baidu responded to the accusations, saying, “Baidu attaches great importance to feedback from the Shenzhen Consumer Council, […] and the information we [Baidu] have obtained is still very limited.”
“Baidu [is] a lost cause,” one netizen called Qiangzi commented on Chinese social media platform Weibo.
Another Weibo user, Gua Gua De Dai Di, sardonically wrote, “revolutionary pioneer, Li Yanhong.” Li Yanhong is the co-founder of Baidu.