Bike-shar­ing firm tak­ing peo­ple for a ride?

Shanghai Daily - - METRO - Xu Lingchao

E-BIKE shar­ing firm Xiangqi is again un­der fire, after months of dis­putes over de­posit re­funds.

The com­pany’s head of­fice was cleared out this week.

The e-bike shar­ing com­pany told Shang­hai Daily that they left the of­fice be­cause an­gry cus­tomers stormed the of­fice door and at­tacked staff on De­cem­ber 3.

The com­pany said they called the po­lice, but pro­vided no ev­i­dence. Min­hang po­lice re­fused to con­firm the story.

“We had no choice but to leave for the safety of our em­ploy­ees,” said a com­pany spokesman who re­fused to re­veal the new ad­dress for “safety rea­sons.”

On Thurs­day morn­ing, both of Xiangqi’s of­fices in Les En­phants Tower, Min­hang District, were locked. Two work­ers in the 14th floor of­fice were clear­ing out ca­bling and elec­tric de­vices.

“I heard they are now re­fund­ing the de­posit via WeChat, but only 100 peo­ple per day,” said one of the work­ers. “There is a long queue.”

Peo­ple work­ing next door said the staff of Xiangqi stopped show­ing up this Mon­day but “sneaked back after night­fall to move their stuff out.”

In just one hour on Thurs­day morn­ing, 16 peo­ple came to the of­fice look­ing for a re­fund. All of them had been wait­ing for months.

Wang and Yan had come all the way from Xi’an in Shaanxi Prov­ince.

“We were plan­ning to spend a hol­i­day in Shang­hai next week,” said Yan. “I read we could get a re­fund at the head­quar­ters, so we came a week ear­lier, but still too late.”

Yan said Xiangqi’s e-bikes on the streets of Xi’an were ei­ther bro­ken or out of bat­tery from the end of Oc­to­ber. “It felt like no one was tak­ing care of the bikes.”

Since then the cou­ple have been try­ing to get re­funds through the app and WeChat.

The sit­u­a­tion in Shang­hai is no bet­ter. Wang Rong used to ride Xiangqi from home to the Metro sta­tion. “But now it’s a lot­tery,” he said. “The jack­pot is when you find a work­ing bike by the sec­ond or third try.”

Wang also ap­plied for a re­fund around the end of Oc­to­ber. “It is not about the 299 yuan (US$43),” said Wang. “But about in­tegrity and dig­nity.”

Every­one at the head­quar­ters for a re­fund told Shang­hai Daily that the cus­tomer ser­vice phone never worked.

“Once I di­aled more than 50 times, but no an­swer,” said a very dis­con­tented Hua. “I guess I’ll just con­sider my­self down 300 yuan.”

Two weeks ago, Xiangqi’s of­fice was packed with peo­ple ask­ing for re­funds. Many had noted they could get their money back if they came straight to the com­pany with their ID card. Soon after Xiangqi is­sued a state­ment say­ing that for “safety” rea­sons, the re­fund process at the of­fice was sus­pended, and send­ing users back to WeChat.

Min­hang District has re­ceived more than 24,800 com­plaints about Xiangqi this year, about half were filed since the be­gin­ning of Novem­ber.

“We no­ticed the prob­lem in Oc­to­ber and ar­ranged meet­ings with Xiangqi,” said Mao Hui from the district mar­ket su­per­vi­sion depart­ment. “We asked the com­pany to re­solve the de­posit is­sue, but ap­par­ently they didn’t.”

It was not just users bang­ing their heads on the empty of­fice door. A sup­plier had come to ask for money too.

“They own us about 700,000 yuan,” said the rep­re­sen­ta­tive. “We’ll con­sider fil­ing a case if they keep stalling.”

The spokesman for Xiangqi told Shang­hai Daily that they were close to a new round of fi­nanc­ing.

“We will an­nounce it when the time is right,” he said, again claim­ing all op­er­a­tions are run­ning smoothly. “We are still re­turn­ing de­posits.”

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