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PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 May, 2006, 12:00am

The column for anyone fed up with bureaucracy, frustrated with delays or furious with poor service. Tell us your complaint and we'll try to fix it ...


Reader Peter Northam lost his luggage on a British Airways flight from Sweden to Hong Kong. When it was retrieved and returned to him, it was damaged and a digital camera was missing.


'I have been reading with interest the recent news that British Airways is slashing fares in Europe to compete with budget airlines. Coincidentally, I have had a very unfortunate experience with British Airways over the past week,' he said.


'On April 14, I returned from a business trip to Sweden on British Airways. My check-in luggage did not arrive, so I immediately reported it as lost to the Jardine Airport Services desk, who act as baggage handlers for British Airways. I telephoned Jardine every day, but they informed me that they were still trying to locate my luggage. After two days, I asked about claiming compensation for essential items I needed to replace and was told to submit receipts.


'The following day, another staff member informed me that this only applied to visitors with a return ticket out of Hong Kong. I was not entitled to claim for anything as a Hong Kong resident, which seems unjust.'


After four days, on April 18, his luggage was returned in a dilapidated state. The handle was torn off, the zipper broken and the contents ransacked. A digital camera containing photographs of his business trip had been stolen.


'Immediately, I complained to Jardine, which asked me for my fax number so that they could give me a new reference number for collection of my luggage for repair (although I seriously doubt that it can be repaired satisfactorily) and a letter explaining why I still cannot receive any compensation, even for the stolen digital camera. This fax was never received.


'I have since written to Jardine and the British Airways customer relations departments in Hong Kong and London, and am still waiting for a satisfactory response.'


British Airways marketing manager (Greater China and the Philippines) Choi Fong said the company regretted the incident, but she said the airline is not responsible for loss of, or damage to, valuables stored in baggage.


'Any such incident is most regrettable and we have expressed this to the passenger, with whom we are in contact,' she said.


'A reimbursement of essential items is available to non-resident passengers, but it is industry practice that this allowance is not available to passengers returning to their home on their final flight.


'With damaged checked baggage, the airline's liability with regard to 'irregularities' does not extend to the valuable contents of the baggage, nor to any subsequent damage to them. Regrettably, some customers may not be aware of this situation, and this may give rise to unfortunate misunderstandings. However, it is standard industry practice and customers are advised to refer to the General Conditions of Carriage as indicated on their ticket.


'Customers are advised to carry the appropriate travel insurance. With regards to the suitcase itself, if it is lost or damaged, we will replace or repair it, and we have an appointed luggage supplier to evaluate and manage such situations on our behalf.


'We appreciate that such an incident is highly distressing for the passenger involved, and we make every effort to address this.'


A long-time resident and his family who have lived in Bo Yip Building in Ashley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, for more than 30 years have been asked to leave, along with their neighbours, at the end of this year. While agreeing to leave, he said building owner Long Faith Investments and management Jones Lang LaSalle have announced they would start extensive renovation from this month, six months before they move out.


'Many of us have been living in Bo Yip building for 25 to 30 years, which is being cleared of all residents by this December,' he wrote. 'The renovation is going to start in May. How is this fair? This is simply an act of selfishness to gain more rent before the building is put to a different use. How can such an act be allowed?


'Do we not have the right to live in peace until December? We have lived in this building for many years and I don't think it is fair that we have to tolerate all the interior and exterior construction work during our last months of stay. If we should move out by December, then construction should also start only then.


'The notice has given us only one year to find another house, leaving us with no option but to buy property when the prices are so high. Our children have exams next month and construction within the building would really not allow them to be able to focus on their studies. Why should we pay rent and yet live with such frustrations?'


Jones Lang LaSalle said the landlord would try to work with the tenants to address their concerns. 'In the meantime, occupiers are most welcome to contact our management office for inquiries and assistance regarding the renovation work,' it said.