A rideshare driver has caused a stir after he started charging passengers an additional $2 if they wished for the air-conditioning to be switched on.
A photo of the Beijing driver's payment instructions strapped to the back of their seat have gone viral on Chinese social media and sparked debate over whether the 10 yuan fee ($2.10) was acceptable as drivers' felt the pinch amid a global cost-of-living crisis.
Several online reports suggest the passenger was using global rideshare company DiDi's express service. The platform enjoys about a 90 per cent share of the rideshare market in China, according to the Global Times.
The sign instructs passengers they must pay the amount in cash, separate to the rideshare's app, due to the low rate the passenger pays for the ride.
QR codes to two separate payment options were included on the sign for digital payment.
"It's standard to turn on the air conditioner in summer!" one Weibo user said. China has endured blistering summer temperatures this year, with Beijing's daily temperature routinely surpassing 30 degrees.
"According to this logic hospitals, cinemas and restaurants can charge an air conditioning fee!" another said.
Many said the passenger should have been informed of the fee for air conditioning use before accepting the ride.
DiDi has since responded, saying drivers are not allowed to charge additional fees, and must comply with passenger's request to use air-conditioning if they desire, Chinese publication The Paper reported.
Other rideshare platforms issued similar statements.
According to carsguide, regular air conditioning use can account for five per cent of a vehicle's annual fuel bill.
Air conditioning can prove costly for drivers
One rideshare driver claimed online it cost them an additional $400 a month to use the air conditioning for customers. Drivers have previously complained over how much of their profits DiDi takes.
China has not been immune to the inflation seen right around the world, and motorists have faced rising fuel costs in recent months.
"It's not easy for them... DiDi drivers are human too," one person said online in defence of the driver.
"You only paid for the car, not the air conditioner," another said.
In China some bus services charge a levy if the vehicle has air conditioning.
A similar dispute involving a DiDi driver made headlines last year, however their charge at the time was just 4 yuan (85c).
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