More than 10 million users of bike-rental firm ofo have requested deposit refunds, with the company possibly owing in excess of RMB 1 billion (USD 145 million) to its riders.
On Tuesday, Dec 18, an ofo user posted a screenshot on microblogging platform Weibo informing them that they were number 10,000,001 on the refund waiting list. The screenshot was picked up by Chinese media outlet AllWeather TMT. As of 4 p.m. today, more than 11 million people have requested their money back.
An ofo spokesperson refused to confirm to TechNode the number of requests the company had received.
Riders’ deposits amount to either RMB 99 or RMB 199, with earlier adopters paying the lesser of the two amounts. However, earlier this year the company attempted to get all users to upgrade to the RMB 199 tier. If all users request just RMB 99, the company would owe around RMB 1 billion.
The en masse requests follow users flocking to the company’s headquarters in Beijing to get their money back. Yesterday, more than 100 people lined up outside ofo’s office. They were instructed to leave their personal information, including banking details, and were promised refunds within three days.
The company then issued an emergency statement, saying all applications, either online or offline, would be collected and processed in order.
“There is no difference between on-site waiting or online application,” ofo said in the announcement.
Users subsequently began refreshing their position in the online refund queue and posting the screenshots to Weibo.
Last month, the company said its system for refunding users’ deposits was operating as normal, though the waiting period had been increased from 10 to 15 days. The company also encouraged users to transfer their RMB 99 deposits to online lender PPmoney to continue getting deposit-free rides. It later withdrew from the partnership.
Shortly after, users reported issues withdrawing their deposits in the ofo app, though the company denied the claims.
Photos: bikeforeverbluegear.com, Courtesy of TechNode