It’s been a bad day for bike rental schemes in China. After Bluegogo’s devastating disintegration, the bike rental company that made its fame with “tuhao” gold bicycles Coolqi has its head office surrounded by users (in Chinese) unable to withdraw deposits from their mobile phone app. Coolqi has set up an offline refund office which is guarded by security personnel in Beijing’s Tongzhou District.
According to the report, one university student has come all the way from Hebei province in order to queue in front of Coolqi’s office, spending RMB 130 in order to get back his RMB 298 refund. The student stated that he has used the service since September but in October saw news reports on Coolqi. However, since the app was not responding, the student took a day off to come all the way to Beijing for his deposit. The RMB 160 that he will receive is enough to cover half a month of his living expenses at school so the treck was worthwhile, he said.
Coolqi’s trouble started in September when users first started gathering in front of its Tongzhou office. At the time Coolqi founder and CEO Gao Weiwei told TechNode’s Chinese sister site that the company is not bankrupt, but that he has been removed as CEO (in Chinese). The company’s WeChat payments have been frozen and it is seeking the guidance and support of the government while it is talking with another company for a potential RMB 1 billion acquisition.
Bluegogo is having its own troubles with refunds with staff waiting for late salary payments and its Vice President confirming that he left the company months ago.
In August, the Chinese Ministry of Transportation released the country’s first national guidelines for online bike rental. The draft states that companies collecting deposits and prepaid funds from users should strictly distinguish between the users’ and the enterprise’s own funds, set up a special account for users’ funds and employ risk management.
Coolqi, which received RMB 900 million in investment and has 1.5 million registered users and 1.4 million bikes, has so far stated that the specific deadline for refund has not yet been determined.