A bike-share company was ordered to refund bike users' deposits and publicly apologize to consumers within 10 days after a three-hour public hearing in Guangzhou, the Guangdong provincial capital, on Thursday.
Yueqi Information Technology Co, the company behind Xiaoming shared bikes, is also required to disclose its financial operations correctly and completely according to relevant regulations, according to the verdict passed by Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court.
The bike-share company was brought to court by the Guangdong provincial consumer watchdog last December over accounting irregularities and delays in refunding users' deposits.
The Guangdong Consumer Council also demanded the defendant increase its transparency, disclosing how much users' deposits are and how the total sum of deposits has been used.
The case is the first public-interest litigation involving shared bikes in the Chinese mainland.
As stated in the verdict, the defendant breached its commitment to return customers' deposits on time even as it was using the deposits for long-term gains. When bike users paid their deposits, the defendant promised to immediately refund the deposits when the service was no longer needed, the consumer council said.
The watchdog went to court after it received more than 30,000 complaints about delayed refunds and poor management of the company's deposits since last August.
According to the council, a total of 321,681 people had paid the defendant deposits by the end of October, and only 271,806 people had been refunded.
Both defendants and plaintiff have refused to appeal to upper courts.