Swire Group

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 July, 2012, 12:00am

Cathay Pacific 'Feels' your pain

We've had an e-mail from a disgruntled Cathay Pacific customer. He says, 'As a long-term customer and previous Gold member of the Marco Polo Club, I am continually horrified by being forced to listen to Robbie Williams' Feel, in many cases for over one hour while on hold, before being honoured with a live person able to answer my questions or to make changes to my flight itinerary. This would seem to be a strategy on behalf of Cathay Pacific to deny customer service to their customers in the hope that those customers will give up exercising their rights spelled out in the various applicable terms and conditions.'

He goes on to suggest that customers similarly dismayed should consider taking the airline to the Small Claims Tribunal. 'For less time than it takes to wait on hold and the minimal fee of HK$50, anyone can file a claim against Cathay Pacific in the Small Claims Tribunal on the basis that excessive hold times to reach a customer service representative is a breach of contract.' The case could be proved in court by dialling the customer service line and seeing if the magistrate had the patience to wait for a live person to be available.

Marco Polo Club manager Linda Sim writes somewhat bizarrely that 'since the system upgrade on 11-12 February 2012, Cathay Pacific indeed had increased waiting times for Marco Polo members calling our customer service centre.' She apologises for this, and says that since May call-waiting times have been 'vastly reduced'. Sim says that Cathay is addressing the problem, and 'we value all customers' feedback'. Probably better to send that by post.

Common bonds and universal votes

Baroness Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy head, offered her own congratulations to Leung Chun-ying on taking office as chief executive 12 days ago during a brief stopover on her way to the Asean meeting in Cambodia. She'd earlier congratulated Leung when he was elected chief executive on March 25. The pair are pretty much contemporaries. The British Labour politician was born into a coal-mining family in northern England in March 1956 and was the first person in her family to go to university. Leung, born in August 1954, is the son of a policeman and went to Hong Kong Polytechnic before studying in Bristol, southwest England. We're told that in a 30-minute get-together yesterday Ashton briefed Leung on the situation in Europe and her meetings with Chinese leaders, including Premier Wen Jiabao, in Beijing on Monday and Tuesday. Leung talked about his priorities and plans for universal suffrage in 2017.

Something to Cheu on

Inspired by the recent pieces we've had on acronyms, a reader writes that the Health Department in Hong Kong has started a poster campaign against obesity. The website for this information is www.cheu.gov.hk. Cheu is the acronym for Central Health Education Unit.

Abbott's millions of good reasons

It is not hard to predict which way London Metal Exchange (LME) CEO Martin Abbott will be voting on July 25. This is the day when LME shareholders vote on the sale of the LME to HKEx for GBP1.4 billion (HK$16.8 billion). Not bad for an exchange that made just GBP7.7 million - though admittedly as a result of fees that had been kept artificially low for the benefit of its members.

It's by no means a done deal. Industrial users of metals are thought to be particularly concerned as they fear the exchange's low profit and unique structure of futures contracts could change under new ownership. As for Abbott, he is expected to receive a bonus of GBP7.359 million if the deal goes ahead. The amount is close to 10 times his remuneration last year. So he's unlikely to get too hung up over the LME's 'unique structures'.

Tough love over Libor

Barclay's Libor-induced disgrace has prompted some musing over its membership of the British Bankers Association, the body responsible for Libor. 'If we find that people have been putting in figures which don't reflect accurately their financial figures, the ultimate sanction is to throw them out of the pond,' the association said in April 2008, according to The Times. It also said that any member found to be deliberately misquoting would be banned. The matter is to be considered by the Libor oversight sub-committee.

So what action, if any, will it take against Barclays? 'Clearly, that would be a matter for the board and council to consider,' the association says now, adopting a rather less-assertive tone. 'There are other sanctions to consider, one of which would be to issue guidelines.' Hmm - that should do the trick.