HK fails finders-keepers mobile phone test

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2007, 12:00am

Hong Kong may pride itself on being one of the safest cities in the world, but it doesn't rate so well on honesty - at least where mobile phones are concerned.

You are less likely to get back a lost phone in Hong Kong than in any of 32 cities around the world, with one exception, according to a magazine's honesty survey.

Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur rated bottom in the survey by Reader's Digest, in which reporters 'lost' 30 phones then counted how many they got back. Just 13 phones were returned in each of the two cities.

Most honest was the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana - also the smallest city surveyed - which saw all but one phone returned. The second most trustworthy citizens were found in Toronto, where 28 phones were returned, followed by 27 in Seoul and 26 in Stockholm.

Despite its fearsome reputation for muggers, New York ranked fifth - alongside Mumbai and Manila - with 24 phones returned. Singapore was equal 25th with Taipei and Buenos Aires, with 16.

In their survey, the reporters would leave a phone in a public place then ring it to see if passers-by would try to ring back preprogrammed numbers to trace the owner - or simply keep the phone.

Adding insult to injury, in Hong Kong it is very difficult to recover a phone left in a taxi without posting a reward.

A South China Morning Post reporter who called the Taxi Union Lost Report Service Centre posing as a passenger who had left her HK$2,400, six-month-old phone in a cab was told to put up a HK$500 reward. 'The phone will be worth something, and Nokia phones are worth more,' an operator said. 'If the driver has to deliver it back to you, you have to give them some sort of reward.'

The operator said the centre received about 50 reports of lost items per day: half of them were mobile phones, and none had ever been recovered without a reward.

But Hong Kong can take heart from one thing. According to a Digest spokesman, many respondents thought the city would fare even worse in the lost phone test.