Mismanaging author lost for words as notebook and manuscripts take flight

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 August, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 August, 2001, 12:00am

You know how it is when you disembark from your flight and suddenly realise you have left your wallet behind?

A passenger flying from Hong Kong to Singapore last week went one better, and forget a notebook computer. Unfortunately for the dozy traveller, the Apple Powerbook then disappeared.

In a bid to get the computer back, the hapless owner has advertised a US$15,000 reward in Singapore's Straits Times and Business Times.

Why so much? Apparently he or she is an author, and the machine contained manuscripts for three books on business management - exactly the kind of book most of us would rather leave on the plane.

Reuters reported that the laptop can be identified by a start-up screen that reads 'Take today off'.

A change of career might not be a bad idea either.

Research came out last week to say that 59 per cent of United States Web surfers have never changed their browser's default home page.

Here in Hong Kong, the figure apparently is only 30 per cent. Does this mean Hong Kongers are inherently more intelligent, or is it just that our ISPs have worse home pages?

Aussie telecoms monster Telstra came up with a brilliant new marketing tool recently. Voice mail. Unlike junk e-mail, which is relatively easy to identify without opening the message, ads sent to voice-mail boxes cannot be identified until they are played. So Telstra has begun sending helpful corporate information messages to its subscribers' mailboxes.

Not unexpectedly, some users found this a little intrusive. But the irritation was stepped up sharply when Telstra began charging users for the privilege of listening to the ads.

Callers using the firm's voice mail service have to pay for every message they send or receive. Presumably in the hope that nobody would notice, the phone firm also billed its users for the ads that it sent them.

Until last week, when Australia's Competition and Consumer Commission was asked to investigate the practice, and Telstra dropped the charges.

Speaking on Australian radio last Tuesday, Telstra's manager for mobile messaging, Rob Saviane, offered offended customers a classic explanation for the value of voice-mail ads.

'It is a service that we are providing to our customers and it is important that we advise users of enhancements to their services in the most effective manner possible,' he said.

Ironically, national newspaper The Australian managed to dig out a quote from the same Mr Saviane last year when he promised not to indulge in SMS marketing.

'As an over-arching policy, we feel that any form of unsolicited receipt or delivery of SMS is a no-go,' Mr Saviane said in November.

Singapore mobile-phone firm M1 learned the perils of sloppily executed e-commerce last week. Like most mobile firms, M1 offered great discounts on phones to new subscribers.

In the latest offer, the company advertised the funky new Samsung N200, which subscribers taking a one-year plan could buy for S$428 (about HK$1,906). For anyone willing to take up a two-year subscription, the company offered the phone free.

Apparently what it intended to say was that the offer was not available with the two-year plan, but 120 new customers grabbed the chance to get a new mobile free, and now M1 has decided to honour the orders.

It could be worse, with laws emerging to force retailers to honour mistakes.

In Britain last year, electronics firm Tandy was forced to sell digital decoders for one penny each, while chain store Dixons narrowly avoided having to sell Sega Dreamcast games machines for GBP9.99 (about HK$112.50).

Fancy a 900 square foot, two-storey detached house in Seattle? Who wouldn't? And if that house was the childhood home of guitar god Jimi Hendrix?

Well, it is up for sale on eBay, and last time we checked, the price looked a steal at US$41,000.

There is only one catch: the winning bidder will be expected to handle his own freight and shipping because the price does not include the land, which is about to be redeveloped as an apartment complex.