I talked with Alex in Hangzhou. He took a taxi Shanghai South Railway Station to Hangzhou. The fair is 280 RMB for four persons, or 70 RMB for one.
How did he make it?
From Shanghai to Hangzhou
It is about 2 hours ride from Shanghai to Hangzhou. The distance is 192 km.
If you take a taxi, and the taxi charges by meter, it should be at least 560 RMB (since it is 3.15 RMB per km after the first 10 km). Many taxi drivers ask for the same amount of fee for the return trip, since they have to go back with an empty car.
So it is not rare that people charges about 1000 RMB to go to Hangzhou.
The Chain of Profit Ecosystem
Alex was approached by someone who claimed to be able to send them to Hangzhou, at only 280 RMB (or 70 RMB per person) using taxi. Frequent travellers said it is OK to do that, so they followed those guys.
They used a taxi to send them from the Shanghai South Railway Station to the entrance of the Shanghai-Hangzhou Expressway, and then drop them off. There, that guy’s partner waved to stop taxies with Hangzhou plate, and asked if they are willing to take four people back to Hangzhou at 100 RMB.
Many taxi drivers agreed! Since they send their passenger to Shanghai and they HAVE to get back with an empty car. It does not hurt for them to make more money. So even if it is only 100 RMB, they did the job.
Finally, the 280 RMB was broken into two part – 180 and 100. People in this value chain get what they get.
Warning – don’t try it
Repeating the story does not mean I think it a good idea. Don’t take it if you have any other choices. It is too risky.
I just feel it is interesting that someone are making money this way.