China: Around The Nation

Bicycle-hire customer in China charged US$60,000 for 20 minutes

Problem traced to system upgrade glitch of popular mainland bike-sharing app

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 April, 2017, 5:13pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 April, 2017, 3:48pm

A man who hired a bicycle in an eastern Chinese city for about 20 minutes was shocked to discover he was charged more than 410,000 yuan (US$60,000), a local newspaper reported.

The charge for the bicycle-sharing app Xiaoming Bike continued to soar even after the rider returned the bike, the City Express reported.

The rider, surnamed Shi, downloaded the App and registered an account when he went out for a walk on Tuesday night in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province. He also paid a 199-yuan security deposited and connected the App to his bank account.

He started cycling at 7.29 pm and returned the bike at 7.50pm but the App did not stop calculating the charge.

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According to the report, the rider was appalled when he re-examined his bill to see it had risen to 414,588 yuan only five minutes after it showed only costing 1 yuan. The bill continued to rise later but did not deduct money from Shi’s bank account.

Shi said he was “scared to death” and reported the matter to police who said they were unable to solve the problem.

The sky-high cycling charge was cancelled after Shi called the customer service hotline of Xiaoming Bike the next morning.

Some Xiaoming Bike users in Shenzhen and Hangzhou reported similar problems that day, the report said.

A representative of the cycling app said the problem arose during a system upgrade and pledge to refund affected customers by the double the amount of the actual cost.

Bicycle-sharing services that give customers access to networks of bikes for little cost have become popular on the mainland in recent years, but some have criticised for causing parking problems in densely populated cities.