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PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 January, 2007, 12:00am

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


Kowloon Bay resident Aaron Tam found his Mazda 323 covered with pebbles and debris one night in the car park of Telford Gardens. Believing the accident was caused by construction work on a podium right above the car park, he contacted the Telford office of MTR Property Management, which manages the podium and car park.


'I took photos as evidence of my claim. Then I followed MTRPM's instruction by providing a quotation from an authorised repair centre,' Mr Tam said.


The car suffered a broken windscreen and multiple scratches and the car repair centre estimated the repair cost at more than HK$20,000.


'To my surprise, MTRPM had no feedback, no apology and, even worse, didn't mention the evidence recorded. I tried seeking help from the MTRPM headquarters but got no response.


'I finally got a reply from a loss adjustor appointed by MTRPM's insurance company on December 20.


'But it stated that it 'did not find any visible damage of material nature', even though I had shown all the damage on my windscreen and front parts of my car body to MTRPM's staff many times.'


The loss adjustor, Crawford, said MTRPM had no responsibility and referred Mr Tam to Hong Dau Construction, which was in charge of the podium construction work.


Mr Tam called MTRPM and Hong Dau repeatedly. He said the two companies had not contacted him on how to settle the matter.


'My car damage could have been avoided if MTRPM had taken precautionary steps, such as completely fencing off the construction area, or informing me to park my car on the other side temporarily. I am totally disappointed by the non-handling of the matter by MTRPM.'


A Crawford manager said MTRPM was protected by a contract signed by car park users like Mr Tam. He referred to the following contractual clause:


'Any motor vehicle ... [and anything therein or thereon] enters and/or stays in the car park at the sole risk of its owner.'


He said in a letter to Mr Tam: 'We consider that the above contractual provision applies to protect MTRC contractually and regret to advise that your claim is declined.'


Hong Dau offered to compensate for the cleaning and polishing cost, which it estimated at between HK$3,000 to HK$5,000. It insisted that the debris found on the car was too small in size to cause the damage claimed by Mr Tam.


'The damaged spots and hairline scratch could not be caused by these small hacked off materials,' said a Hong Dau report of the damage.


It also stressed protection measures had been taken during the construction work. 'Protection by means of green net fencing was provided during hacking off works,' the report said.


Eunice Lai of Ma On Shan signed up for a yoga course with the chain Bikram's Yoga College, but she never expected that the three-month contract she signed up for would turn into a one-year one without her consent.


'I was recommended by the United Overseas Bank's credit card to go to the Bikram's Yoga College on June 22 last year for a three-month trial,' she said.


'Since I was very busy that day, a club representative named Gary told me I only had to sign my name on the application form and he would fill in the rest of the information for me. I agreed, as this is a normal way also adopted by many banks in order to save time for customers, and then I paid the college three months' charges with my credit card.


'But after about two weeks, when I went to the company to take back the copy of the agreement, I was astounded.


'The agreement I got was a 12-month contract with auto-payment through my credit card. I noticed that the '12-month' column on the form, which was required to be filled in by customers, was actually filled in by the club representative Gary.


'The agreement was absolutely without my knowledge and consent. I then lodged my strong complaint to the company and stopped the credit card payment to avoid any loss.


'However, Bikram kept on sending me SMS, asking me to pay for the rest of the nine-month courses that I never wanted to join.


'On October 13, 2006, I received a letter from Lee, Chan, Cheng Solicitors on behalf of Bikram to chase me for the payment. I immediately sent my reply on October 15, 2006, refuting the solicitor's claim.


'I was extremely dissatisfied with the practice of the company's staff and what the company did with their customers. I complained to the Consumer Council in the hope that people would be made aware of similar traps.'


Bikram has agreed to cancel the extra nine months of the contract with Ms Lai and to send her an apology letter soon.


They also offered Ms Lai a new three-month package which required only a one-month charge.


A customer service officer at the company said: 'We have already contacted Ms Lai and trust that this matter will be resolved with an amicable agreement.'


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