The Nanfang / Blog


Dongguan taxi drivers forced to pay RMB92,000 in “tea money” fee

Posted: 08/29/2012 11:40 am

While Guangdong continues to experiment with legal reforms, particularly as it relates to small business and private investment, many of China’s old business traditions remain alive and well. One such tradition is that of “tea money”. For those unfamiliar with the practice, tea money is a bribe used to facilitate a business deal, notably in the hotel and service industry. According to a report in the Yangcheng Evening News, it is also quite common within the taxi industry.

Last year, Guangzhou taxi driver Lao Wang complained that in order to acquire a contract extension with the company he was driving for, he was obliged to pay a RMB20,000 – RMB30,000 hidden fee. When the story broke in the media, public outrage drew further attention to the issue, and eventually a police investigation followed.

The story in Dongguan however is quite different. According to the Yangcheng News report, the He Xing Transport Company (和兴运输公司) has been charging Dongguan taxi drivers substantially more than their Guangzhou neighbours.

There are currently 50 cab drivers working for He Xing who are obliged to surrender their old cabs this year due to servicing requirements, and then apply for a new one. The application process can take as long as four months. The wait, however, is the least of the cab drivers’ worries. The manager of He Xing Transport has imposed a RMB92,000 fee which must be paid before the new cabs will be released to their drivers. According to the manager, RMB80,000 is for a “vehicle deposit”, although no formal records of the deposit are kept. The manager provided no explanation for the remaining RMB12,000.

While tipping Dongguan taxi drivers isn’t exactly customary, if you come across one of the 50 drivers who will soon have to pay the tea money, perhaps you might want to make an exception.


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