A restaurant in Zhangjiagang city in China’s eastern Jiangsu province was caught charging their customers an additional “air cleansing fee” with their meals. The cost of dining in clean air was one yuan per person. The restaurant had recently bought an air purifier and was trying to pass the cost down to their patrons.
Complaints were quickly lodged with the city’s Consumer Pricing Bureau, forcing the local government to intervene. The charge was deemed illegal. An official from the Pricing Bureau said that since consumers have to breathe inside the restaurant, it is the restaurant’s responsibility to provide a healthy environment, adding that since it wasn’t the diners’ choice to breathe, the filtered air could not be sold as a commodity. The restaurateur was unaware of this policy, saying he thought he could charge what he liked for whatever services he provided.
Zhangjiagang has been shrouded in a thick layer of smog for the last several days with visibility only up to 100 meters in some areas. Many commenters on Weibo said they would be glad to pay the fee, and that the price was fair. Others were skeptical, asking if the restaurant would next charge for chairs and tables.
Since last week’s red alert in Beijing, online sales of air purifiers have increased by 50.9%.
The clean air is now free at the restaurant. Let them eat clean air, clean air for everyone.
By Mary DeMay
[Images via Weibo]