Didi finders not keepers of lost items

Didi Chuxing has come up with a loose lost-and-found guideline to help passengers get back things they leave behind in ride-hailing vehicles.

China's ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing has come up with a loose lost-and-found guideline that, it believes, will help passengers get back things they accidentally leave behind and settle disputes between them and drivers.

A key point that the guideline made was for passengers to meet with drivers at a mutually convenient time and place for the return of items and offer to pay the finders a reasonable fee for their time and trouble.

Passengers have reported 22,000 items missing on cars hailed via Didi in the first quarter this year in Shanghai, about a third of which never got back to their owners.

Didi's Wang Mingze said that in most cases where passengers didn’t get back their items, the driver either didn’t find it at all or the negotiations over compensation fell through.

As for the finders, Didi suggests, if possible, they contact the passengers immediately on finding a lost item and assist in the return. They should notify Didi’s customer service if they can’t reach the passenger.

Opinions on Didi's proposal, which was posted on its social media accounts, were divided.

Some said that most people left stuff in the car through carelessness, and whoever took the time to return the things should expect some compensation. 

One Weibo user "Boyuru" said he left his phone in a Didi car some weeks ago and failed to get it back. The driver was rude and asked him to call the police, who wouldn’t file a case as the price of the phone was insignificant.

Didi said the proposal will only make sense when the passenger and finder both acknowledge that the lost item has been found.

“Passengers with solid evidence that their belongings were taken by the drivers can call the customer service center of Didi for help,” said Wang. “Now some cars are equipped with recording devices, which may help settle any dispute.”

Yet even if the driver is willing to return the lost item to the passengers, disputes happen anyway.

A Didi driver surnamed Huang told Shanghai Daily that he once found a wallet from the backseat and got in touch with its owner. Huang wanted to take the wallet to the nearest police station so the passenger could pick it up there.

"But he insisted that I should deliver it to him for he was busy," Huang grumbled. "As if only his time matters."

Huang said the passenger didn't mention any compensation at all. He took the wallet to the police station anyway and never heard from the passenger since.

Wang admitted it can be tricky for the company to come up with a “rule” to ask passengers to pay the good Samaritans.

"That's why we ask the public for opinion," Wang said. 

Xie Jianyong, a lawyer with Beijing Jingshi Law Firm, said that currently there is no law that forces people to pay compensation to finders unless the finders can prove they spent money in keeping the item.

Didi will collect opinions and suggestions over the next three weeks before taking a decision on the proposal.

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