Chine loves the idea of the sharing economy, from cars to homes to bicycles. Which is why Sharing E Umbrella thought it would be a good idea to rent umbrellas for people to use. It’s no surprise that almost all of its 300,000 umbrellas have already gone missing.
Despite the loss, founder Zhao Shuping has not been discouraged. The umbrellas are deployed at a cost of 60 yuan (about RM38) per unit, and he still intended to get at least 30 million of them onto the streets by the end of the year.
Each of these umbrellas is rented for a deposit of 19 yuan (about RM12) and a fee of 0.50 yuan (about RM0.30) per half hour.
The problem is that people have been taking the umbrellas home and not bothering with returning them. We suspect most people would have forgotten the things; as one is wont to do with brollies.
Sharing E Umbrella was inspired by the bicycle sharing economy that has hit China over the past few months. The idea is to allow people to rent bicycles to get around the cities, similar to what some Universities do for students. The idea has even reached Malaysia with Obike leading the way.
Except that China has also exposed the problem with bicycle sharing. People tend to steal bicycles. One Chinese company had to close because it had managed to lose all its its bikes. Although it is unclear if people were stealing them with intent or had simply not bothered to return them.
It’s difficult to say if umbrella-sharing will catch on. After all, it’s ridiculously easy to forget where you leave the things, even if you did intend to return them to the company.