China's Didi says will invest $20 million in customer service after passenger death

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing is seen at their new drivers center in Toluca, Mexico, April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso/File Photo

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing Technology Co Ltd said on Wednesday it will spend 140 million yuan ($20.5 million) to improve its customer service after the recent murder of a passenger by her Didi driver exposed safety issues at the firm.

Didi founder Cheng Wei made the comments in a speech to government regulators who visited the company at the start of a nation-wide inspection of ride-hailing companies, the Chinese newspaper Beijing Daily said.

Didi has been under pressure since a passenger was raped and murdered by her driver last month. It’s customer service team was criticized after the firm failed to act on a complaint made against the driver a few days before murder.

Didi, with backers that include Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, Apple Inc and U.S-based ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies, is the world’s largest ride-hailing firm by number of rides and is expanding globally.

Didi said on Tuesday it would implement new measures to improve the safety of its platform and planned to suspend some late-night services in mainland China between Sept. 8-15 to phase in those measures.

Didi, in an emailed statement to Reuters, confirmed the 140 million yuan investment and said it would fully cooperate with the visiting inspection team.

Didi said an 8,000-strong professional customer service team would be set up by the end of this year.

China’s Ministry of Transport said on its website the inspection team that visited Didi included staff from the government’s transportation, public security and emergency management departments.

The team would visit other ride-hailing firms including Shouqi and Tencent-backed Meituan Dianping, the ministry said.

Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Darren Schuettler