• Mon
  • Dec 29, 2014
  • Updated: 10:17am
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 December, 2013, 3:53am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 December, 2013, 11:57am

Elderly and disabled no grounds for mercy at CLP


Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.

We hear of a less than festive tale involving a technician from CLP who appeared to ignore the pleas of a disabled women and cut off her electricity bill because the bill hadn't been paid.

Mark Peaker writes to say that he had forgotten to pay the electricity bill for his 85-year-old disabled mother. The technician, he says, ignored the requests from his mother's helper not to cut the power. She offered him her phone to call Peaker but he ignored her, he says. However, learning of the situation some time later, Peaker says that after a testy exchange with a CLP manager the power was restored some 15 minutes later - that is 1½ hours after it was cut off.

When invited by Lai See to comment on this, CLP said that it handles disconnection cases "with extreme care" and it decided to cut the power in this case only after sending a number of reminders and disconnection warnings.

CLP says that on the morning in question, the technician visited the premises and handed over the disconnection notice. CLP says its guidelines allow it to withhold disconnection under special circumstances or following customer requests. The utility says its technician did not see the disabled woman and that her helper made no request for him not to disconnect the power.

Peaker says this is not an accurate account of what happened, and he has a text message from his mother's helper alerting him to the situation and noting that that the technician refused her entreaties to phone Peaker.

CLP concluded: "It is unfortunate that the supply disconnection caused certain inconvenience to the customer." That, you could say, is an understatement.


Faith and BlackBerry return

James Robertson, managing director and founder of the El Grande Group of restaurants, writes with a cheerier tale. Last Tuesday he set off for Macau on business.

After arriving he hopped on to the Hard Rock Hotel shuttle bus and initially worked on the e-mails on his Blackberry. But he subsequently decided to stop and take in the view and deal with the e-mails later. He checked into the hotel, watched some television, but when he decided to return to his e-mails he realised, to his horror, he had mislaid his BlackBerry.

He reported it to the concierge and explained he had left it on the shuttle bus. It didn't materialise that night or the next morning when he returned to Hong Kong. But on the supposedly unlucky Friday 13th, he received a call on his other mobile phone from Sheung Wan police station and listened in astonishment as he heard: "Sir, have you lost your BlackBerry?"

He had taken the precaution of leaving the number of his alternative phone with the Hard Rock Hotel in Macau. Robertson said in an interview once: "I live on my BlackBerry and do 60-70 e-mails a day." So it was with enormous relief and gratitude to the Hard Rock Hotel that he recovered his BlackBerry and ended the day, he says, with his "faith in mankind high".


UBS hits top spot

IFR Asia has published its banking awards for the year, with the top spot for Bank of the Year going to UBS. IFR noted that UBS was a surprise performer in investment banking in that it increased its market share despite shrinking its overall platform after undergoing a radical restructuring.

UBS was also Equity House of the Year, while JP Morgan was Bond House of the Year. The Loan House award went to Standard Chartered while Domestic Bank of the Year was awarded to CIMB. HSBC took out Domestic Bond House of the Year, while Issuer of the Year was China Petrochemical Corp after raising nearly US$12 billion from international investors.


Cold weather nonsense

Where would we be without the government to remind us to wear warmer clothing when the weather gets colder. The Labour Department has put out a press statement advising us to keep an eye on the observatory forecasts as the temperature is expected to plummet to 11 degrees Celsius over the next few days.

Employers were discouraged from having their employees work outside in such torrid conditions. They were urged to provide them with hot water or other beverages and, if possible, have them rotated to sheltered working areas. Why are we paying for people to write this nonsense?


Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to howard.winn@scmp.com


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This article is now closed to comments

Boy, the news must be slow to consecrate a 1/3 of the word count to a man who lost his Blackberry on a bus, then got it back. Exciting stuff.

And most of the rest is about a customer who was without electricity for 90 minutes due to a miscommunication with the utility company. Sigh. And by the way, given the at least three reminders and warning notices plus the deposit buffer that is used by CLP before they proceed to something as drastic as cutting the power supply, the real question here is why Mark Peaker, his mother and her helper ignored the original bills, the payment reminders and the warning notices instead of just paying the bills for power already consumed online, at any ATM, by credit card over the phone, at a convenience store or any other blohdy way, like everybody else.

The position that CLP should continue to provide power for free to anybody, or even just only to the elderly and/or disabled, who fails to pay bills, ignores reminders and disregards warning notices, is untenable.

Sorry, but this really below par for Lai See.
John Adams
Has Mark Peaker never heard of direct debit ?
I haven't paid a utility bill directly for 20 years, nor indeed any regular bill.
And has James Robertson never heard of web-based email, so he can access his email - including all email history - from any computer... or Blackberry ?
Seems like Mark Parker needs a good bank manager and El Grande Group very badly needs a good IT manager
The bills went unpaid due to an oversight with my staff (this is just one of many properties owned by myself) - I agree with you all that CLP has a right to terminate the power on an unpaid bill, so you can all climb down from your morale high ground on that point! The technician had an opportunity not to cut the power and make one call, he refused to do so. 90 minutes of no power resulted in medical machinery also being off - so 'jve' yes it mattered and I hope you never forget to pay a bill - and to clarify one other point, CLP sent ONE reminder, not the three they claim to have sent. Anyway, a quite word with Kadoorie himself and all was rectified ...
JR had better find another way to get his emails, Blackberry is almost dead so if he lives on his Blackberry he has just about a year left.....
And that the Labour Dept has asked employers to be considerate to staff working outdoors when the temperatures drops. Is that a story? And by the way, 'torrid' means hot and dry, not compatible with hot drinks and sheltered workplaces. Come on.


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