Bet my house can gallop faster than yours

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 July, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 July, 1997, 12:00am

Eddie Chow tells me he just joined an Internet service provided by a company called HKStar. After paying the various fees, he was handed a slip by the shop assistant.

'OFFICIAL RECEIPT,' it said in capital letters on the top right.

However, when he got home and looked again, there were some smaller words at the bottom of the slip which read: 'This is not an official receipt.' I wonder if a lawyer can explain exactly what a person's rights are in such a case? Hong Kong has gone Internet mad, with thousands expected to turn up at the Internet world trade fair at the Convention Centre tomorrow.

But it seems to me that Internet companies are not keeping pace.

Asia Online, the Internet company with big financial backers, appears to have become a victim of its own success. Subscribers who try to log on in the evenings now often get a sad message: 'Line busy: Try again later.' One frustrated subscriber said: 'They should change their name from Asia Online to Asia Waiting In Line.' Still, if anyone doesn't believe the Internet is the future of communications, consider this.

The latest newsletter of the Hongkong Telecommunications Group features a test by a group called Telephony in which various methods were used to send a 42-page document from Los Angeles to Tokyo. It cost US$7.40 and several days to send the thing airmail, US$26 and one day to FedEx it, and US$28 and half an hour to fax it.

They sent the whole thing by Internet for less than 95 cents and it took two minutes.

There's also a lot of useful information on the net.

This is from a HK Starnet brochure, spotted by Harrison Ryker: 'Enjoy wide variety of hot topics . . . like Mark Six and house racing information.' House racing? Now that sounds like a sight worth seeing.

There are always teething troubles with new buildings, and the new Chinese Foreign Ministry Building in Kennedy Road is apparently no exception.

Some staff have said that glass in the windows has been mysteriously cracking, I hear.

The theory goes that the thing was thrown up so fast, to be in time for the handover, that the structure had not fully 'settled'. Developers (the thing was built by Cheung Kong) are hoping it is a minor problem.

Imagine admiring your reflection in a window and seeing the glass crack. It would do no good to your self-confidence.

Letter received yesterday from Simon Clennell, head of Hong Kong Mensa: 'I was intrigued by the report in Saturday's South China Morning Post , which records that the new Xinhua director is 58 and he joined the Communist Party in 1938. That literally makes him a born Communist.' The Hong Kong Adventist Hospital has issued a leaflet called Essential Information.

'All patients' accounts need to be settled every seven days,' it says. 'Please bring along a rope, slippers, shaving gear, and personal toilet articles.' Anyone know why a rope is compulsory? Does the hospital have someone at the door of the emergency room turning away ambulances which contain persons not carrying their own ropes? Ray Bange was pondering one of the great mysteries of the banking system.

If you are a good little customer, and keep your accounts topped up, you escape from bank charges and they make hardly any money at all out of you.

But if you fall into an overdraft, especially one that has not been pre-arranged, banks make a fortune out of you - a hefty 10 per cent plus penalties and fees is not at all unusual.

So why is it that they are so nice to the goodie-goodies and write nasty letters to those of us with overdrafts? When I was a deeply indebted student, one of my similarly penurious friends got a letter from a manager at Barclay's Bank: 'Dear Mr Richards, I would like to suggest we return to the previous arrangement, whereby you bank your money with us.' Name of a restaurant in Kowloon City spotted by Wayne Beer: 'Vive La Cholesterol'.

From the newsletter of Hong Kong's French Business Association, spotted by Jacqueline Berthier: 'French Rock and Roll Party.

'W's Entrecote... Free Admission for FBA membership cardholder with one guess.' Just a thought: The way to get to the top is to get off your bottom.




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