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Take Action!

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 January, 2008, 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 ...

Tsuen Wan resident Kwok Chi-yuen was upset about the government's 'slow' investigation into a seepage problem in his flat. Waste water started to drip into his bathroom from upstairs six months ago.

He has sent three letters to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department since August complaining about the problem but has just been told the investigation is still in progress.

'The problem started nearly six months ago when foul water with an unpleasant smell dripped heavily from the wall and ceiling into my bathroom. I reported the seepage problem to the department, hoping that it would take action to urge the owner of the upper flat to repair the defective drain and stop the sanitary nuisance to my flat.

'First I was just angry as seepage has dampened and fouled my toiletries. But the department has failed to make the owner upstairs remedy the situation since I lodge the complaint in August. Now I am very frightened of a recurrence of the outbreak of Sars at Amoy Garden as the hygiene condition of my flat is worsening due to seepage. I have already written three letters requesting the department to take action but to no avail.

'What has insulted me to the extreme is that rather than taking swift action to solve the problem, they keep sending me a casual and uncaring standard letter saying that, due to the complexity of the case, they are still investigating.'

A spokesman for the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said the investigation had been concluded and they had found that the source of the seepage was a defective branch of a waste water pipe connecting the bathtub in the bathroom of the upper flat to the main pipe of the building.

He said a 'nuisance notice' had been sent to the owner of the upper flat ordering him to fix the problem. Legal action would be taken against the owner if he failed to comply within a specified period. But the spokesman did not tell Take Action the owner's deadline for fixing the problem.

Meanwhile, the number of water seepage complaints received by the department increased from 13,271 in 2003 to 17,823 last year.

Au Fung-kit stayed at the Venetian Macao on December 30. He said he was allocated a room 21/2 hours late, hence asked that his checkout time be postponed by three hours. He was dissatisfied that his checkout was extended by only two hours.

'My family members and I arrived at the hotel around 11am on December 30. We were told by a receptionist at the west wing lobby that our rooms would not be available until 3pm,' Mr Au said.

When they returned to the hotel at about 3.30pm, the room for his family members was ready but his was not. 'A receptionist at the west wing lobby told me my room would be ready 'very soon' and pledged that the key would be sent shortly to my family members' room.

'But after two hours, I still received no alert from hotel staff. I considered it a breach of [their] pledge to me, leaving me in endless waiting.

'My family members and I went to the west wing lobby again about 5.30pm and asked whether my room was ready. My room was finally available... But we were very dissatisfied with the 21/2 hours' delay and sought an explanation and redress.

'A female worker introduced us to a male employee, a Mr Simon. She claimed Mr Simon was a 'manager'. In response to our query about the delay, Mr Simon said the check-in time should be between 3pm and 5pm. I found his explanation unreasonable because we should be entitled to get the room at 3pm and any delay was unreasonable.

'While rejecting our demand for extending our checkout time by three hours, Mr Simon offered us two breakfast coupons for the following day. We considered the move insulting and declined the offer. He finally agreed to extend our checkout time by two hours but we found it insufficient because the delay wasted our time and caused us unnecessary anxiety.

'Meanwhile, we were doubtful whether Mr Simon was really a hotel manager, as the badge on his suit did not say 'manager, front desk', as did other managers'. He did not deny that he was a manager during our conversation. We have strong reason to believe the staff asked Mr Simon to entertain us on the assumption that we would fail to make our case before him in English. If this is so, the staff's motive is very base.'

The Venetian Macao had not replied to inquiries by yesterday.