(Yicai Global) Dec. 18 -- A Chinese user of cash-strapped Ofo's shared bikes has managed to redeem his CNY199 (USD29) deposit, worth about six cups of coffee at Starbucks in China, by pretending to be a foreigner.
The client emailed a complaint, written in English, to Ofo, which is run by Dongxia Datong Management and Consulting, and requested a refund on Dec. 13, the consumer, who goes by username zjt93 on microblogging site Weibo, posted on Dec. 14. One day later, Ofo replied in English to apologize and the client got his money back.
Once the post went viral, the user deleted it. "At first, I felt it was funny but then I felt upset about Ofo's reply," he said in a post that followed the next day.
Ofo has been fending off rumors of an inevitable bankruptcy as more and more bikers have reported that they have not received their deposits after waiting for over a month. The company extended its deposit refund scheme to as long as 15 days from 10 on Oct. 22 when its founder Dai Wei relinquished his role of legal representative.
Hundreds of users went to Ofo's headquarters in Beijing to seek repayments yesterday. The line extended from the fifth floor of the office building to a square outside.
The company has been the focus of several reports claiming major investors Didi Chuxing, the world's largest ride-sharing platform, and e-commerce titan Alibaba Group Holding were looking to take over -- but Ofo has denied all such speculation.
As of this year, at least nine firms have filed lawsuits against Ofo for contract disputes involving logistics, house leasing, advertising expenses and defaulted payments. Some cases have been settled, and many are still in the trial process.
Editor: Emmi Laine