Caught in a bad Romancecar.

A strangely increasingly common phenomenon in Japan has been the act of a single person making a ridiculous number of reservations and then not paying for the bookings, causing them to go unsold and wasted. It’s not always clear if this is maliciously done, but it is a problem, and now it’s affecting a major train company.

Romancecar is the name of the limited express trains operated by Odakyu Electric Railway that service lines between Tokyo and the cities of Hakone and Gotemba, both of which offer beautiful views of Mt. Fuji. The Romancecar is also more swanky than most trains with meal service and special viewing windows to help enjoy the ride.

▼ The older model Romancecars, like the ones pictured here, had a lot of character

As a result it costs about twice as much as traveling the same way by standard trains. However, one 48-year-old resident of Shiki City, Saitama Prefecture, was not pleased with the service he received on a Romancecar and sought out a revenge most annoying.

According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, between March and November of last year the suspect made a total of 9,313 reservations on Romancecars, but with no intention of paying for them or riding. Of those fraudulent reservations, about 90 percent of them were said to have be for observation deck seats which have more beautiful views and are generally more desired.

When police arrested the suspect, he admitted to the charges, saying that he was frustrated with his job and didn’t like the attitude of the conductors and crew of a Romancecar. His hobby was riding trains, but one time he became angry when other passengers were drinking and acting rowdy on the observation deck, but no staff came to tell them to stop.

▼ Dammit, Umaibo guy! Get to work!

As for how he managed to make so many unpaid reservations, Odakyu Electric Railway allows passengers to reserve a seat without paying for it up front. In the event no payment is made, the reservation is still held until 15 minutes before the train departs. Considering that Romancecars are more about the journey than the destination and only have reserved seating, the chances of someone appearing suddenly to claim a last-minute open reservation are very slim.

Sadly, the ability to not have to pay until the time of riding is a convenience that may be in jeopardy due to this crime of fraudulent obstruction of business, and for that online comments did not appreciate the suspect’s selfish offense.

“After the criminal charges are settled Odakyu can sue, but they probably won’t be able to get that much money back. Still they should do it to prevent similar crimes.”
“9,300 times?! How did they not notice it earlier.”
“We probably don’t need reservations to be held that late anyway.”

“What a piece of garbage. I hope they sue him.”
“The number of times he did it is very disturbing.”
“What did he want to accomplish with all this?”
“Sadly I think we are entering an era where all reservations will have to be prepaid.”
“How much damage did he really do though? If the train isn’t fully-booked then he never really deprived them of a sale.”

That last comment brings up an interesting question. One important factor is that he seemed to have deliberately targeted popular seats. Also, because of knowledge acquired through his hobby of riding trains and the fact that the reservations were spread out over a nine-month period, it’s very plausible that he could have deliberately targeted peak times as well.

It will be up to the company and lawyers to hash out the true damages incurred by the railway. Either way, he’s going to be paying for his misdeeds in one way or another for quite some time. Let this be a lesson to us all, that when work gets us on edge, try to find other stress outlets than crime, like a squishy ball of poo for example.

Source: Asahi Shimbun, The Sankei News, Twitter
Top image: Wikipedia/MaedaAkihiko
Insert images: © SoraNews24
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