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August 28, 2014

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Rejected customer sues in taxi app dispute

A MAN refused a taxi ride because the cabbie was awaiting a customer who’d booked through third-party booking software sought compensation in court yesterday.

The case at the Pudong New Area People’s Court is the first concerning the controversial taxi booking software to be heard in the city.

The plaintiff, surnamed Yan, sued Shanghai Jinjiang Taxi Co for 3,000 yuan (US$488.28) after one of its drivers wouldn’t take him — even though his taxi sign was showing “for hire.”

The driver told the court that he had accepted a booking through third-party taxi app Didi Taxi and had pulled over to wait for his customer when Yan got into the cab.

Prosecutors argued that the driver’s behavior was a denial of service as the “for hire” sign was showing.

But the defence claimed that a denial of service only takes place when passenger hails a taxi, the driver asks the destination and then refuses the fare.

Records provided by Didi Taxi app showed the driver accepted a fare at 4:44pm on February 28 and pulled over on Caobao Road at 4:50pm to collect his passenger.

Seeing the empty vehicle, Yan got in and had an argument with the driver when he wouldn’t take him, the court heard.

He had to leave the vehicle when the customer who booked the cab arrived.

Yan then filed a complaint with the taxi company.

No verdict was announced yesterday.

Since that incident, the Shanghai Transport Commission has required the Didi Taxi and Kuaidi Taxi apps to work with taxi companies to ensure that a cab’s sign show that it is not for hire once a booking is accepted.

There were numerous complaints earlier this year from customers who tried to hail “for hire” taxis in the street, but were ignored as they had already taken app bookings.

The apps were extremely popular initially as both drivers and passengers received a payment for booking through them. This has now been replaced by offers and vouchers.

The city transport authority has banned taxi drivers from using the apps during rush hour.


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