TO hail a car with the Didi Dache app during peak hours may mean a much higher price than usual.
Since Aug. 3 the app has introduced the option to pay drivers more money during rush hours, although paying the extra fee isn’t required.
The app is encouraging drivers to take passengers during rush hour by making the passenger pay more, according to the company that runs the car-hailing app.
A local resident surnamed Xiao recently found that the estimated fare was higher than that shown in the Didi Kuaiche app. Xiao said she was charged 39 yuan (US$6.08) on top of the original fare of less than 30 yuan.
A staff member with the car-hailing app said Didi Dache started raising prices to motivate drivers to take orders during rush hours when it is difficult to hail a car.
“The higher price only appears during peak hours and the riders can choose to pay the extra money to call a car within a shorter time or stay with the same price, but they might need to wait for a longer time,” said the staff member.
The staff member also said that if riders are unsatisfied with the marked up price, they can call customer service to negotiate a refund.
Many are balking at paying the extra money, seeing the charge as unreasonably high. Another resident surnamed Zhang said that it costs more to use the Didi service than a regular cab during rush hours.
“I have gone a few times from home to my workplace by taxi and it costs around 35 yuan, but Didi Dache costs around 60 yuan during rush hours,” said Zhang. “When it’s like this, I’m just going to go with an old-fashioned cab.”
Xiao said most of the Didi passengers choose the car-hailing app because of lower prices. She believes it will lose these customers if the app tries to charge more for the service.
Xiao said she will choose Didi Dache over taxis when it is not rush hour.
A legal expert, Pan Xiang, said that according to consumer protection laws, it is illegal if Didi charges the riders more without an obvious notice. But if the transaction is approved by the riders, it’s fine.
Pan also said car-hailing apps are not conventional taxi companies and their charges are not approved by the government, so they need be fair to maintain customer trust.