Two law students from Tsinghua University separately took Ofo, the onetime Chinese bike sharing giant, to court in the hope of getting their modest deposits back. Both lost their cases but set social media alight in the process with over 1 million people viewing the topic.
What’s the story?
Two students from one of China’s most prestigious universities sued former shared bike superstar Ofo, now on life support, for adopting what they thought was an unlawful user agreement. They hoped a ruling in their favour could become a milestone in Chinese legal rights history, but those dreams were foiled when both students lost their cases.
The cases centered on the return of deposits customers originally gave to Ofo. The user agreement issued by Ofo stated that in case of a disagreement between the company and users of the service, customers could go to the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission for judicial arbitration. However, according to current rules and regulations governing the commission, the minimum amount an individual can seek arbitration over is 6,100 yuan ($910). In Ofo’s case, most consumers now in dispute with the company are seeking refunds for their deposits, which are usually between 99 or 199 yuan and thus far less than the minimum necessary for arbitration.
Ofo was once a significant player in the Chinese bike-sharing business, but subsequently entered a debt crisis that left millions of customers unsuccessfully seeking the return of their deposits.
What are people saying online?
Many people on social media praised the two students, saying despite losing their lawsuits they raised awareness of consumer rights and how the law can be used to protect them. “The students did a good job. Well done,” said one.
Others expressed their frustration with the Chinese legal system. One popular comment on Weibo read: “It is good that the students are exercising the law they believe in. But I don’t know if the reality will live up to their expectation.”
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