For those Singaporeans who didn’t actually know, Singapore actually has an umbrella sharing service.
There’s a free service initiated by the GRCs, and there’s also a paid service by Nestia. It’s no wonder which Singaporeans would choose.
Free umbrellas come to the rescue in Singapore’s unpredictable weather — how useful, right? How romantic if you happen to share the only umbrella left with a (rare) hot guy, right?
Well, it would be great if fantasies could become reality…
Except there aren’t available umbrellas in the first place.
For starters, not a single umbrella hung from the stands at Tampines when I passed them by. Not a good start, but it gets worse.
At Bukit Batok East, there are even people who stole the umbrellas.
Truly, some people can take ‘ungracious’ to a whole new level.
Perhaps we can learn a thing or two (or a ton) from Japan — the country abundant with kind-hearted, friendly souls.
As with almost anything, Japanese have proved themselves to be responsible and gracious (ahem) as always — their umbrella service is just another piece of evidence.
Unsurprisingly, they made waves once again when their umbrella sharing service was reported to have a 100 per cent return rate after running for a few months — and it’s not because nobody uses it. In its first month alone, there were already 1,000 gracious users making use of the service.
They truly set the bar so high, it feels unreachable for the rest of the world.
Granted, their service is paid and not free like the ours. That said, a measly $0.85 (70 yen) is surely infinitely more affordable than Nestia’s price of $9.90.
Japan’s umbrella sharing service is akin to our bicycle sharing service, except that the umbrellas don’t return broken, misused, or lying anywhere instead of its designated place.
How does it work?
After adding iKasa as a friend on their LINE account (their equivalent to Whatsapp), they merely locate the closest spot with available umbrellas and borrow it by scanning the QR code. By scanning the QR code, they pay using their pre-registered credit card, so there really is no way out of paying.
When returning the umbrellas, they simply scan the QR code at the return stand, and its a done deal.
Of course, iKasa has put in place measures to ensure that people return their umbrellas — but in light of their results, it hardly seems necessary.
For every day that anybody forgets to return the umbrella, extra charges will be added automatically to their credit card. Once the charge hits $5.09 (420 yen), the umbrella is theirs for keeping.
A friendly reminder that the total charge is still grossly under the payment required for Nestia’s services. Can you believe that the company is as considerate as the consumers?
But Then Again…
Nestia has probably anticipated Singaporeans’ capitalist nature — if the umbrella service was priced at $5, Singaporeans would probably fight to ‘borrow’ the umbrellas and never return them. It’s rare to come by an umbrella that price, after all.
One would probably think that the Japanese cannot be more perfect than they already are. One would think wrong. To top off this fuzziness in our hearts, even the umbrella stands are cute.
Their umbrella sharing service cannot be more wholesome.
We can only hope that our own umbrella sharing service can make its glorious comeback once we start caring more for our fellow Singaporeans.
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