Should Didi Drivers Be Paid for Returning Lost Objects?
Whether drivers of Didi Chuxing should get paid by delivering passengers' belongings triggers debates
  ·  2019-06-21  ·   Source: NO.26 JUNE 27, 2019

Recently, Didi Chuxing, one of the leading ride-hailing companies in China, published a notice to solicit public opinion and suggestions on objects left by passengers in their cars. The notice states that passengers who leave their belongings in the car due to their own negligence should retrieve the objects themselves. Those who cannot should pay the drivers to have the objects delivered to them.

Reasonable compensation

Song Pengwei (Hunan Daily): The question of whether a fee should be charged when returning lost money or objects has always been controversial and puts the traditional Chinese virtue of not pocketing the money one finds to the test. Didi's notice is a meaningful attempt to regulate the practice of returning lost objects.

Not pocketing the money one finds is a virtue that cannot be enforced. But not everyone can pursue the virtue in reality. Some drivers may simply remove those objects from their cars to avoid the cost of taking them back to the owner, which will only harm owners' interests. The virtue of not pocketing the money one finds simply dictates that one should not pocket the money but doesn't require one to return it for free. Therefore, asking to be compensated for the cost of returning lost objects doesn't go against traditional virtue.

On the one hand, it's common for passengers to leave their belongings in cars. On the other hand, cars providing ride-hailing services are for profit. Returning the objects will inevitably incur costs and hamper the drivers from picking up new passengers. Therefore, it is fair to both the drivers and passengers to stipulate a reasonable amount of compensatory payment for the drivers. In this way, the drivers will be better motivated to return lost objects and the odds of passengers getting back their lost belongings will greatly increase.

An online vote by Didi at the end of last year showed 80 percent of over 520,000 netizens who participated in it supported paying the drivers for returning lost objects.

Paying the drivers is not only reasonable but also has a legal basis. The General Provisions of the Civil Law and the Property Law both stipulate that one should return lost objects to their owners and owners should pay those who pick them up for costs incurred such as safekeeping them.

Virtuous deeds need to be encouraged and nurtured. It's a virtue to not ask for anything for returning a lost object but one should not expect all people to practice such virtue. Only by lowering the threshold for doing virtuous deeds will more and more people get help from strangers and a warm social atmosphere be created.

Virtue to be encouraged

Ding Jiafa: (Beijing Youth Daily): The rule will enable Didi drivers to get paid for returning passengers' belongings and prevent their suffering losses for doing good deeds.

It's a virtue to not pocketing the money one finds. However, who should bear the expenses for returning lost objects has always been a cause for dispute. Some netizens think Didi drivers should return the objects for free but most netizens think it is reasonable for the drivers to charge a price for returning lost objects. It's laudable if Didi drivers can return lost objects without asking for a financial reward. However, if the time and fuel cost for delivering the objects is not compensated, drivers' motivation for returning lost objects will be dampened.

It's not hard to foresee that if Didi drivers have to shoulder the expense of returning lost objects themselves, they will gradually lose the enthusiasm to do so. They may either claim not to have found the objects or throw them away. If passengers don't have adequate evidence to prove the driver is holding the objects, it is they who would have to suffer loss.

The rule will effectively safeguard Didi drivers' rights. Didi should post the rule prominently on its platform so that passengers who use its services can see it and abide by it. It will help solve disputes caused over returning lost objects and is worth trying out.

Passengers should change their mindsets and stop calling drivers who ask for money to return lost objects immoral. They should understand the rationality and legitimacy in charging a fee for returning lost objects and voluntarily pay the drivers.

Government departments should establish laws and regulations to create a social atmosphere where the practice of charging a price for returning lost objects is understood and supported. In this way, good people will not suffer loss for doing virtuous deeds, while the virtue of not pocketing lost money will flourish.

Xie Shiliang (Shenzhen Special Zone Daily): It has always been difficult for passengers to get back their belongings left in ride-hailing cars as these cars have a large passenger flow. As early as December 2016, Didi formed a special department to help passengers get back their lost possessions. The new rule is a further attempt to help them do so.

The rule clarifies the platform and drivers' legal responsibilities to safekeep and return lost objects, which will help improve the ride-hailing service and passengers' experiences.

The public's attention is focused on whether passengers should pay the drivers for returning lost objects. Some have pointed out that the relationship between drivers and passengers is a contractual relationship between service providers and customers. Even after passengers leave the car, their contractual relationship with the drivers continues for some time. Drivers have the responsibility of safekeeping passengers' lost belongings and help the latter to get them back. Some say the drivers should not be encouraged to charge passengers because if everything is measured by money, noble acts will be reduced to mercenary deeds.

I think asking drivers to return lost objects for free imposes too high moral standards on ordinary people and ignores people's needs for profit under the market economy, which will eventually lead to loss of motivation to return lost objects.

Paying a reasonable sum to drivers who return lost objects will increase their motivation to return the objects, shorten the time needed otherwise to get the objects back, and reduce disputes between passengers and drivers. Hopefully, the rule will improve with use to better regulate the practice of returning passengers' lost belongings.

Lack of values

Jiang Wenjuan (Contemporary Business Daily): It is unreasonable of Didi drivers to ask for payment for returning passengers' lost objects. According to the Property Law, those who pick up lost objects should return them to the owners.

Drivers have the responsibility to keep and return passengers' lost objects. Whether passengers pay the drivers or not is their personal choice.

Not pocketing the money one finds has been the Chinese people's moral standard for thousands of years. However, today this moral standard has to be upheld by payments. Where are Didi's values?

Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar

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