Hongkongers have fared poorly in a survey ranking politeness around the world - but we are the best in Asia at holding open doors. Reader's Digest sent undercover reporters to 35 cities in February and March to document the behaviour of residents, testing them in three areas: holding doors open for others; helping someone pick up a pile of papers dropped on a busy street; and saying 'thank you' to customers in a shop. Overall, the results showed that Hong Kong was not very friendly - coming in 25th place, with New York, surprisingly, claiming No 1 spot. But in Asia we were the best at holding doors, came in third (out of eight) when helping to pick up dropped papers, and sixth when thanking customers. Tackled by a Hong Kong researcher, one embarrassed shop assistant said: 'I usually greet a customer with a 'thank you'. I believe politeness is very important. It is a big part of good customer service. I was just now preoccupied by the problem of how much change I should return to you, so I forgot to say, 'Thank you'. New York's position as the most courteous city may owe something to the September 11, 2001, attacks. 'After 9/11, New Yorkers are more caring. They understand the shortness of life,' the article cited former mayor Ed Koch as saying. Asia featured largely in the bottom half of the table, with Hong Kong better behaved than Taipei in 28th place but ruder than Manila in 21st place. Mumbai came last. The survey revealed that a person's wealth had little to do with the manner in which they behaved. Researchers noted the 'thank you's' of illegal hawkers in Sao Paulo, while a shopkeeper in Mumbai was blunt about his job. 'I hand goods over to the customers and that's it,' he said. The tests were carried out by male and female researchers at peak and off-peak hours. The courtesy tests were repeated 20 times in various locations. A positive response merited one point for the city, while a negative response - or none at all - meant the city remained on zero. Upon being told that their behaviour was being monitored, the reactions varied. A man who declined to hold the door open for a male researcher in Exchange Square said: 'He is so young. I don't see why I needed to hold the door for him.' But a polite man who stopped to pick up someone's dropped paper explained: 'I saw this stuff falling on the ground, so I helped him out. It was nothing. Everyone has a heart to help others - it's just that they probably fail to summon the courage to do so.'