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Is it reasonable to be asked to pay a refund fee when taking an online ride-hailing service?

Is it reasonable to be asked to pay a refund fee when taking an online ride-hailing service?

Recently, the topic of online ride-hailing drivers charging passengers additional air return fees has attracted attention. Many passengers have reported that when they first get on the bus or when they are about to arrive at their destination, the online ride-hailing driver will inform the passengers that they have to pay extra for the return trip, etc., and ask the passengers to scan a QR code to pay, and the fee is not displayed in the ride-hailing software. Should passengers pay air return fees? How should online car-hailing charges be reasonably priced?

  Many passengers reported being charged air return fees

At the end of September this year, Ms. Wang, who lives in Chengdu, Sichuan, booked an express train through a taxi-hailing app, departing from the Second Ring Road to work in a suburban county. The total distance was about 49 kilometers. After getting on the bus, the driver told Ms. Wang that because the destination was relatively remote, it would be difficult to pick up passengers on the return trip, and Ms. Wang needed to pay an additional 80 yuan for air return.

Ms. Wang said that because she was in a hurry to leave and also considered that the driver might not be able to pick up passengers on the return trip, she paid the return fee.

The reporter learned that there were many passengers with similar experiences, mainly from high-speed rail stations and airports to distant or remote destinations, as well as some cross-city orders, including some online taxi orders. Some passengers said that they hailed a taxi at a high-speed rail station, and after getting on the bus, the driver asked for a refund of 150 yuan. Some drivers will call passengers in advance to ask if they are willing to pay the air return fee, while others will ask for additional payment when they are approaching the destination.

Generally speaking, passengers are reluctant to be charged extra, so there have been many complaints. In this regard, online ride-hailing drivers also have their own opinions. “Take a cross-city order from Shenzhen to Guangzhou as an example. The one-way journey is 120 kilometers and the round trip is 240 kilometers. If there is no return fee or highway toll, but only a one-way fare of 300 yuan, what will we earn?”

  Can online car-hailing companies charge empty space rebate fees?

  Different platforms have different rules

How to price online car-hailing services? Is there any room for rebates in the fees? According to the “Interim Measures for the Management of Online Booking Taxi Operations and Services”, online car-hailing platform companies should reasonably determine the online car-hailing freight rates and implement clear pricing. Online ride-hailing freight rates are subject to market-regulated prices, except where the urban people’s government deems it necessary to implement government-guided prices.

The reporter looked at several online ride-hailing platform apps currently on the market and found that some online ride-hailing platforms explicitly prohibit drivers from negotiating prices, and for cross-city orders, drivers are prohibited from requiring passengers to pay fees other than the order for various reasons; It stipulates that drivers can reasonably charge surcharges for bridge crossings, tolls, highway tolls, etc. when planning routes.

△Different regulations on surcharges on different online ride-hailing platform apps

The person in charge of an online ride-hailing platform said in an interview that in order to avoid problems such as unreasonable charges and temporary price increases, his platform has launched cross-city fee collection for cities with frequent trips and a large number of cross-city orders, and the system will automatically calculate cross-city fees. The toll will be added to the bill; in cities where cross-city tolls are not available, the driver can negotiate the return toll with the passenger, and the return toll shall not be higher than the actual highway toll and bridge toll incurred on the outbound journey; if the passenger encounters a situation where the driver increases the price offline and negotiates, the driver can Report it to the platform in time, and the platform will punish the driver according to the rules.

  How to regulate the phenomenon of drivers charging empty rebates?

  Lawyer’s suggestion: Platforms and relevant management departments need to work together

Can online ride-hailing drivers charge empty rebate fees? In this regard, Liu Manjiang, a lawyer at Beijing Hua Pei Dequan Law Firm, said that it should be defined based on whether the platform itself has clear rules:

If the platform explicitly prohibits drivers from collecting air return fees and the driver collects them privately, it is against the rules. Passengers can complain to the driver and make him bear corresponding responsibilities;

If the platform rules are vague, the key lies in whether the driver and passengers have reached an agreement in advance. If after communication and negotiation, the passenger agrees to pay the air return fee, it constitutes a verbal commitment.

In addition, Huang Yuwen, a lawyer at Beijing Deheng (Zhuhai) Law Firm, said that although online car-hailing platforms are the main body of pricing, they must also actively listen to the opinions of rental companies or drivers.

How to regulate the phenomenon of drivers charging empty rebate fees? Liu Manjiang suggested that platforms and relevant management departments need to work together to:

Platforms should develop internal management systems to constrain driver behavior and clearly stipulate whether drivers can charge air return fees from passengers for specific itineraries, as well as the charging standards;

The platform should specifically inform and remind passengers whether to charge air return fees, and it is up to the passengers to decide whether they are willing to accept the service;

Increase channels for passenger complaints and feedback. If it is verified that drivers indeed engage in arbitrary charging behavior, they should be punished in accordance with the law.

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