An internet entrepreneur has launched a site where it is possible to hire a friend for 6.50 pounds an hour.
Scott Rosenbaum, 30, has a database of 218,000 men and women who members of his site Rent a Friend can hire "to hang out with, go to a movie or restaurant with", or be "someone to show you around an unfamiliar town".
The site already boasts 2,000 members, each paying up to 16 pounds a month to access the site.
And when they see a friend they like the look of, they can rent them for as little as 6.50 an hour.
Rosenbaum said he wanted to "go a step back" from dating sites and offer a service that was, in the words of his website "strictly platonic".
"No one was offering friendship," the Telegraph quoted him as telling The Times.
The service is not just about getting people to meet up for a drink or a meal.
It lists a host of diverse activities that members might like to hire friends for, including "teaching manners", "snowboarding", "family functions" and just "hanging out".