In China, it is increasingly important that you use an app like Didi Da Che to order a taxi. Many times you can see dozens of empty cans, often with the green “unoccupied” light on, drive right past you as they go to pick up a customer who has called for them via an app. At busy times or in bad weather, it can feel like you are never going to get a cab by waving one down even though it looks like there are hundreds. The Didi app or the WeChat version under “order a taxi” (Wallet > Order Taxi) lets you both order and pay for the cab. But since you can also pay for the ride in cash, there is sometimes a danger that the driver will take cash and also bill you via the app. This is most likely when you use your app to get a cab for a friend or guest.
Before your friend gets in the can, make sure your plans are clear. Are you paying or is your friend? Be sure to have a way to reach your friend to confirm that the plan was followed. If you paid via your phone, make sure your friend doesn’t also pay with cash.
This happened to me recently as my wife and I sent a college student home to a distant location in Shanghai. I explained that I was paying, and the phone app charge me for about 300 RMB. But when I saw her a week later, I learned that she had been asked to pay cash, 300 RMB again. Nice score for the cabbie!
Here’s what to do. You will need a photo of the cash receipt and also screen shots to show that you paid cash. You can then call the customer service number for the cab company printed on cab receipts, and explain the double billing problem. They won’t speak English, so have a Chinese speaker help you if you don’t speak Chinese. They will probably say that this is just a rare good faith mistake, but they should refund your money. It will take a week or so, but you can get a refund. This worked for me.
Anytime you are using an app to send someone else on a cab ride, make sure you let the person know that you or they are paying, and have them call you if there is any question or surprise. Be wary!