In the latest ofo debacle, some users of the Chinese bike rental firm found that they were unable to apply for deposit refunds within its app.
ofo users told the Beijing Youth Daily (in Chinese) that the return deposit button had been grayed out and was unclickable. The users also said their ofo account balances couldn’t be withdrawn and the customer service line was unavailable.
ofo responded by saying that a gray-colored gray deposit return button is normal and is used to ensure user retention, but that accusations of the button being unclickable were untrue.
According to users TechNode and others talked to, the gray button is still active, but the refund collection process is complicated and slow. So far, there have been no accusations against ofo for misleading users through its app design.
Due to the recent intense reporting on ofo’s bankruptcy and rumors of an acquisition by ride-hailing giant Didi, users have rushed to get their deposits back, putting increased pressure on ofo, which is already battling cash issues and severe liquidity problems. This has forced ofo to extend the promised 15-day deposit claim processing time, which was increased from the initial three-day wait.
“Users can call us should they encounter any deposit claim problems. Due to the high volume of calls we receive every day, a user might have to call several times to successfully reach out to us,” ofo told a reporter from China Central Television (CCTV).
As the company’s cash crunch has intensified, ofo has sought new revenue streams through partnerships with online lenders. Last month, the company began urging its users to transfer their deposits to P2P lending platform PPMoney. The two companies eventually halted the promotional offer, but the tie-ups continued.
ofo then inked partnerships with nine other online lenders, allowing them to gain access to the company’s users through promotional content within the apps “Wallet.” ofo reportedly signed the deals at 10% to 20% below the market price for new user acquisition.