There is a saying that time is so precious that even gold couldn't be exchanged for it. But a 26-year-old girl named Chen Xiao in Beijing is willing to sell her time at different prices through taobao.com, a popular e-commerce internet portal in China, the Beijing Evening News reports.
By inputting 'Chen Xiao's online store of remaining life' on taobao.com, potential customers are greeted with impressive shots of beautiful Chen Xiao. Beneath the photos are price tags covering the range of prices: eight minutes, one hour and one day with the prices of 8 yuan, 20 yuan and 100 yuan respectively.
The advertisement on the online store features a promise from Chen Xiao telling buyers that she will serve any purpose except for those involving crime, violence or pornography.
Though it only opened two months ago, the online store has attracted many customers, who battled at auction to win her time and assigned various tasks to her, such as attending friends' birthday parties, offering coffee to clients, buying railway tickets and so on.
Up to now, more than 100 people have bought her time, generating a net income of 3,000 yuan for her.
On the recent Valentine's Day, a gentleman spent 500 yuan buying her time for a whole day. She was later asked to come up with an innovative design idea for a gift and deliver it to his girlfriend on February 14th.
A mother buyer wanted Chen Xiao to call in on her young daughter disguised as a panda, and encourage her to study harder, after becoming concerned by her failure of an exam.
Currently, there are around 30 online stores similar to Chen Xiao's. The owners come from across the country and even the U.S. and Australia, most of whom say they have learnt of Chen Xiao's idea and decided to use it to increase the popularity of their own online stores.
Chen Xiao's move has triggered controversy among netizens.
A netizen called 'xiao han' said that life belonged to oneself, so a person would become lost by putting it up for sale. Another netizen disagreed, saying this was a sort of creative industry and was merely a different type of start-up for the young.
A marketing teacher with University of International Business and Economy said by selling time as a stunt, Chen Xiao had actually stirred up the public's curiosity and then provided them with any services within her ability.
Xia Xueluan, a sociology professor with Peking University, said in the shrinking job market, Chen Xiao's act deserved promotion. He added that Chen Xiao took the advantage of the low-cost internet to start her own service business.