Forced passengers to carpool and propose price increases, the illegal chaos of online car-hailing drivers should be treated

  It is not uncommon for passengers to take a taxi on an online ride-hailing platform, but to be asked by the driver to charge extra fees: some drivers call to ask for a fare increase before getting on the bus, some drivers ask for return fees, fare subsidies, etc. after getting on the bus, and some drivers force passengers to carpool

  For consumers, if they convert platform orders to private orders, they may face the risk of refusing compensation or not being able to obtain full compensation in the event of a traffic accident

  ● Online car-hailing drivers privately use multiple platforms to receive orders, resulting in passengers who should have exclusive ride space but are forced to carpool in the end, which is a breach of contract. Drivers should charge the ride fee according to the carpool price, or refund the full amount

  "The driver just took the order and asked me to add an extra 50 yuan." Not long ago, Li Qi and a friend from Shantou, Guangdong took a taxi on an online ride-hailing platform, took a taxi from school to the high-speed rail station, and waited for half an hour before a driver took the order. The platform showed that the price was 26 yuan. Soon, the driver called to ask for a price increase. If you don’t accept it, you can cancel the order.

  Li Qi flatly refused the driver’s unreasonable request, but had no choice but to cancel the order and take a taxi again. "Who will supervise the online ride-hailing driver’s arbitrary charges? Should the platform be held responsible?" Li Qi asked.

  "Rule of Law Daily" reporter recently found that, like Li Qi, it is not uncommon for drivers to charge extra fees for taking a taxi on an online ride-hailing platform. Some drivers specially called to ask for a fare increase before getting on the bus, some drivers asked for return fees, fare subsidies, etc., and drivers privately took orders from multiple platforms to carpool.

  The interviewed experts believe that the unreasonable behavior of online car-hailing drivers receiving orders and charging fees is suspected of infringing on consumers’ right to know, independent choice, and arm’s length transaction rights. At the same time, it also shows that there are regulatory loopholes in online car-hailing platforms, and they are obliged to bear corresponding responsibilities for the unfair treatment of consumers.

  Excessive charging of high-speed passengers

  "After getting on the bus, the driver told me to bear the round-trip high-speed fee!" Yun Zhe, of Dongguan City, Guangdong Province, took a taxi on an online ride-hailing platform to return to school from Chaoshan High-speed Railway Station in February last year. On the way, the driver said that the destination was relatively remote and it was difficult to receive orders to return to his place of residence, and asked Yun Zhe to pay a round-trip high-speed fee totaling 18 yuan.

  "Before, when I took a taxi, I only needed to pay the express fee of 9 yuan one way." Yun Zhe was surprised by this. The driver did not inform me that she needed to pay the return express fee when receiving the order, but the driver said that she had to pay the fee before she could get off.

  Coincidentally, Chen Chen, a resident of Chaoyang District in Beijing, has also encountered cases where online ride-hailing drivers overcharged or even charged high-speed fees in advance.

  In August this year, Chen Chen booked a car for Beijing Daxing International Airport at 5:30 a.m. on the online ride-hailing platform. After receiving the order, the driver called to inform her that she needed to pay an additional 30 yuan for the high-speed fee, or cancel the order herself. Considering the large amount of luggage and the early departure time, Chen Chen had to accept it.

  Chen Chen has encountered a similar situation more than once. She took a taxi home from the airport in June this year, and the driver also asked for an extra 30 yuan for the expressway fee in the same way. Both times the extra fee was paid directly to the driver’s personal account through mobile phone transfer, not through the online ride-hailing platform. "I didn’t see the bill for the expressway fee both times, and I don’t know how much the expressway fee was charged."

  The reporter searched the third-party complaint platform with keywords such as "online car-hailing, high-speed fee" and found that there were hundreds of consumer complaints.

  Some netizens said that after placing an order through the online car-hailing platform, the original price was more than 80 yuan, and the one-off price was 68 yuan after the discount. Unexpectedly, the driver had a bad attitude after getting on the bus and complained that the "taxi fee is too low". Because the order took a toll road section on the expressway, when getting off the bus, the driver asked him to scan the payment code to pay 20 yuan for the toll. After communication, the two parties reached an agreement, and the user paid on the spot, but after getting off the bus, he found that the driver had added an additional 50 yuan for the toll, which was counted in the platform order fee and asked him to pay. After the user asked the platform customer service for help, he chose to complain to the platform at a third party. Finally, after negotiation, which lasted for more than a month, the platform cancelled the extra

  "In the case of unknown specific fees, drivers cannot charge in advance, and it is illegal for them to overcharge passengers’ high-speed fees." Du Leqi, an associate professor at the School of Law of Jiangsu University, said that according to the relevant provisions of the "Interim Measures for the Management of Online Booking Taxi Business Services", online car-hailing drivers should determine the price in accordance with the unified metering method. After determining the price, the passenger fare should be charged in the prescribed way. The behavior of not charging or overcharging in the prescribed way is illegal and should be subject to administrative fines.

  Du Leqi also mentioned that according to the Consumer Rights Protection Law, consumers have the right to obtain quality assurance, reasonable price, correct measurement and other arm’s length transaction conditions when purchasing goods or receiving services, and the right to refuse the operator’s forced transaction behavior. "The driver’s arbitrary charging behavior undoubtedly violates the consumer’s arm’s length transaction right."

  Zhu Jie, a lawyer at Taihe Tai (Chongqing) Law Firm, said that according to relevant provisions such as the Civil Code and the Consumer Rights Protection Law, consumers should know all the fees included in the order and the driving route after placing the order, so that consumers can choose according to the price. Charging additional fees after the order is completed obviously violates the consumer’s right to know the price and make a comparison choice.

  The driver "transfers the platform order to a private order".

  During the National Day holiday this year, Huang Shan from Shantou, Guangdong, went out to eat at a shopping mall with her friends. On the return journey, she took a taxi on an online ride-hailing platform for 42 yuan. The driver contacted Huang Shan on the platform after receiving the order: "80 yuan, can you go?" Huang Shan was surprised and asked the driver why the price was increased. The reason given by the other party was that the journey this time was too long, and there must be an empty car on the way back, so Huang Shan needed to pay for the return journey.

  "If you don’t leave, you will cancel the order." The driver’s unreasonable request and tough attitude made Huang Shan very dissatisfied, and she cancelled the order and took a taxi again.

  Unexpectedly, the same situation happened again the next day. Huang Shan and three friends chose to take a taxi on an online ride-hailing platform when they returned to school, and the price was around 70 yuan. After the four people got on the bus, the driver said that the order was too far away and the platform price was too low. He asked Huang Shan and others to cancel the platform order and pay the 97 yuan fare directly through online transfer. Huang Shan disagreed with the price, and the driver was deadlocked there. In the end, Huang Shan had to cancel the order.

  Huang Shan’s classmate Cui Wen also encountered a situation where an online ride-hailing driver "transferred a private order". At the end of September, Cui Wen booked a car to the high-speed rail station on the Mid-Autumn Festival on multiple online ride-hailing platforms. Because of the long journey, she waited a long time to book a ride. Unexpectedly, the driver immediately called to ask for "private order transfer" after receiving the order.

  "The driver asked me to cancel the order and add his personal contact information to receive the order, and the price also increased from 24 yuan for the hitchhiker to 35 yuan," Cui Wen told reporters. "Isn’t this a black car?!" For safety reasons, Cui Wen refused the driver and had no choice but to cancel the order.

  Du Leqi believes that according to the "Interim Measures for the Management of Online Booking Taxi Business Services", online car-hailing vehicles need to obtain the "Online Booking Taxi Transport Certificate", and this type of vehicle can only carry out business activities on the network service platform that has obtained the business license. Online car-hailing vehicles and drivers are not allowed to provide operation services through the network service platform without the business license. "Therefore, if they leave the online car-hailing platform, they are not engaged in legal online car-hailing business activities, and may be suspected of illegal passenger transportation."

  He further pointed out that for consumers, if they convert platform orders to private orders, their legitimate rights and interests will be difficult to protect, and in the event of a traffic accident, they may face the risk of refusing compensation and being unable to obtain full compensation.

  Xie Yamei, a lawyer at Beijing Yinghe (Guangzhou) Law Firm, believes that consumers should collect evidence in this situation, such as audio recordings, video recordings, screenshots of orders, etc., and report it to the platform or report it to the relevant traffic administrative law enforcement department. After the platform or law enforcement department receives the complaint report, it should carry out relevant law enforcement investigations to investigate and deal with the above acts.

  Passengers get on the bus and find themselves "carpooled"

  On some ride-hailing platforms, "carpooling" options are set up, allowing consumers to choose whether to carpool with others when placing an order. That is, when two passengers have similar routes, the platform will arrange for two people to ride in the same vehicle, which will make the price much cheaper.

  Some interviewees reported that in the case of not choosing "carpooling", they found that there were other passengers in the car after getting on the bus. It turned out that online ride-hailing drivers received orders through multiple platforms and carried multiple passengers who placed orders on different platforms at the same time on the same line.

  Fan Xi from Changning, Hunan, has encountered many cases of online taxi drivers taking orders and carpooling on multiple platforms. "I clearly chose’exclusive ‘on the platform, which was more than ten yuan more expensive than’carpooling’, but after I got on the car, I found that there were already three passengers in the car." Fan Xi immediately questioned, and the other party’s attitude was arrogant, saying, "How can there be’exclusive ‘now!"

  After the trip, Fan Xi contacted the customer service on the platform, and the customer service attitude was perfunctory, saying that "the passengers in the car may only be relatives and friends of the driver, which is often the case with Hitch."

  Liang Yuan, of Fuzhou, Fujian, had a similar experience. She booked a ride on an online ride-hailing platform to go to the high-speed rail station "exclusively". When the car arrived, she found that the car had already taken two passengers.

  After getting on the bus, she secretly photographed the situation in the car. After getting off the bus, she contacted the platform customer service to complain, but the other party also called the passengers in the car as the driver’s relatives and friends. "But I clearly heard the driver and the front passenger say that you can find him next time you carpool." Finally, after more than 10 minutes of argument, the customer service agreed to refund the price difference between Liang Yuan’s "exclusive" and "carpool".

  The reporter searched on multiple platforms and found that many netizens posted articles saying that they had encountered the situation of drivers taking orders and carpooling on multiple platforms without permission, and even had many related entries, such as "online car-hailing drivers who carpool forever".

  In Du Leqi’s opinion, in the above situation, on the one hand, if the consumer does not make an appointment for carpooling, but the driver accepts the order, then the driver should provide the corresponding "exclusive" service as agreed; on the other hand, if the driver needs to carry multiple passengers in other order-taking situations, he should obtain the consent of the driver in advance. Therefore, the driver’s multi-platform order-taking, disguised as forcing unsuspecting passengers to carpool, is a breach of contract for not providing services in accordance with the contract.

  Zhu Jie believes that according to the relevant provisions of the Civil Code, if the carrier reduces the service standard without authorization, it should refund or reduce the fare according to the request of the passenger. Online ride-hailing drivers use multiple platforms to take orders without permission, resulting in passengers who should have exclusive ride space but are forced to carpool, which is equivalent to lowering the service standard to a certain extent, which is a breach of contract. Drivers should charge the ride fee according to the carpooling price, or refund the full amount.

  The platform shall assume corresponding responsibilities

  Why do a large number of online ride-hailing drivers take unreasonable orders and charge fees?

  Experts interviewed believe that the important reason is that the actual income of drivers has decreased in the saturated environment of the online car-hailing market. In this case, some online car-hailing drivers may take risks and take chances to make the above-mentioned violations and violations. At the same time, there are regulatory loopholes in the online car-hailing platform, leaving room for online car-hailing drivers to operate illegally.

  Zhu Jie said that the profit distribution and order distribution mechanism of the online car-hailing platform are unreasonable. The commission of the online car-hailing platform to the driver is too high, resulting in the actual profit of the driver after each order is settled. In addition, the platform strictly controls the number of orders and the order amount of the driver every day through the order distribution mechanism. As a result, no matter how long the driver actually works every day, the final income is limited. Therefore, some drivers have to charge privately in order to survive, forcing passengers to fight. "Passengers’ awareness of rights protection is not strong enough, and they also condone this part of the dishonest online driver."

  In Du Leqi’s opinion, the emergence of the above behavior indicates that there are regulatory loopholes in the online car-hailing platform, which urgently needs to be improved: the platform’s qualification review of drivers is not strict, and the personal quality of drivers is not strictly checked, resulting in uneven quality of online car-hailing drivers, which has laid hidden dangers for subsequent management; some platforms have unreasonable training and evaluation mechanisms for drivers and have not established a strict training system; the platform’s price management mechanism is not strict, and there is a lack of price monitoring; the platform’s mechanism for consumer feedback and complaints also needs to be improved.

  Regarding how to manage and prevent unreasonable orders and charges for online car-hailing, Du Leqi put forward suggestions from the perspective of government departments: it is necessary to strengthen source control, standardize the business license of platform enterprise qualifications; consolidate the main responsibility of enterprises, crack down on illegal operations, supervise and inspect the implementation of safety production responsibilities, track services, interview warnings, and urge immediate rectification of potential safety hazards found; cooperate with other regulatory departments to continue to carry out law enforcement actions in passenger stations, high-speed toll stations, service areas, schools and other passenger flow distribution centers.

  "Online car-hailing platforms should strengthen supervision and technical support. For example, in response to the problem of online car-hailing carpooling, carpooling transportation service providers (online car-hailing platforms) should take technical means to arrange the best carpooling passengers and try to screen the carpooling passengers on the way. Online car-hailing platforms need to further improve the supervision system for online car-hailing drivers, increase supervision, strengthen travel norms for drivers and travel safety for passengers. If passengers encounter the above problems, they can complain to the online car-hailing platform and traffic law enforcement departments." Xie Yamei said.

  Zhu Jie believes that on the basis of maintaining normal business operations, the platform should ensure the normal income of drivers and formulate a reasonable distribution mechanism. In addition, in addition to providing relevant management regulations, the platform should also organize regular training so that online ride-hailing drivers can fully understand the platform rules. At the same time, it is necessary to provide more convenient channels for rights protection, simplify rights protection mechanisms, and enhance passengers’ awareness and willingness to protect their rights.

  "Passengers should also choose services rationally under the premise of abiding by social ethics, evaluate services reasonably, reduce disputes and ensure safe travel. When passengers encounter drivers taking orders from multiple platforms, resulting in their own special car becoming a carpool, they can refuse to get on the bus and complain to the platform; if the problem is found after getting on the bus, they can ask the driver to deduct relevant fees, or preserve relevant evidence, such as order vouchers, carpooling evidence, etc., to report rights later," Du Leqi said.

  (The passengers interviewed in this article are all pseudonyms.)