‘WeChat, Alipay, I don’t really know how to use them’: US passenger in China accidentally pays 100 times his taxi fare

American visitor gives glowing review to honest local taxi driver, who returned him US$950 and even refused a reward

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2018, 6:06pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 July, 2018, 1:00pm

A Chinese taxi driver with a strong sense of ethics went out of his way to return almost 6,500 yuan (US$950) to a Chinese-American visitor who accidentally overpaid for his ride using a mobile payment service.

The incident happened on Monday in Xian, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi province, when the driver, Zhang Peng, was checking his WeChat wallet, Chinese Business Gazette reported on Wednesday.

He noticed that one of his customers had paid 6,500 yuan for a 65 yuan fare. Based on the time stamp, Zhang guessed that the payment had probably been made by a group of four people he had picked up at the railway station and taken to a hotel.

After first asking his taxi firm’s dispatchers if they could help to track down the group – they could not – Zhang decided to see if they were still at the hotel where he had dropped them, which they were, the report said.

After explaining the situation at the reception desk, Zhang was reunited with his passenger and explained what had happened.

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The visitor, who was identified only by his surname, Liu, said he was making his first visit to the city and had been confused by the layout of the payment app.

“These systems like WeChat Pay and Alipay are all new to me,” he said.

“I don’t really know how to use them. In the US when I pay, there’s usually a space for decimal points, so I thought I had to do the same here and ended up accidentally paying so much more.”

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As a reward, Liu told Zhang to give him back just 6,300 yuan, but the ethical driver was having none it, and insisted he return the full amount, less the real fare, the report said.

Liu instead thanked Zhang with a glowing testimonial on WeChat, China’s most popular messaging service.

“I can’t believe it,” he wrote in Chinese. “For some people, money is their only goal, and 6,500 yuan is a lot of money. I felt so excited yesterday because you returned it. I really appreciate it.”