Meituan faces possible legal action over 'gratitude fees'

Hu Min
The Shanghai Consumer Council is considering a lawsuit against Meituan's ride-hailing service over a feature which lets users "tip" drivers in advance in order to secure rides.
Hu Min

The Shanghai Consumer Council said on Thursday that it is considering filing a public interest lawsuit against Meituan, which runs a popular Internet car-hailing services, over a feature which allows people to "tip" taxi drivers in advance in order to secure a ride.

These so-called "gratitude fees" violate consumer rights, the council said. 

The litigation would aim to safeguard the legal rights and interests of consumers, the council said. 

A talk will be hosted by the council on Monday to discuss the matter, it said. 

There have been a number of complaints about disorganized pricing in the taxi-hailing market recently, with overcharges and long waits for rides drawing much ire, the council said.

Car-sharing leader Didi was ordered in 2017 to remove a similar function on its app that allowed people to "tip" taxi drivers in advance so as to secure a ride.

The city’s transportation authorities said the function was unfair and disrupted the taxi market. 

The order followed a public outcry over both Didi’s services and complaints that hailing taxis in the city had become extremely difficult ahead of the Spring Festival holiday.

Special Reports
Top