We've told you a million times not to exaggerate

HONGKONG Bank has modified the wording of the ''1,000,000 miles'' promotion that doesn't actually give you a million miles if you win.

But first a warning: the information in this article comes from a man claiming to be a descendant of Oliver Cromwell, the English revolutionary whose brilliant military campaign led to the beheading of the English King Charles I in 1649.

Thankfully, Richard Cromwell restricts his activities to being a senior manager in Hongkong Bank's credit card department, and doesn't appear to be planning to beheading anyone, not even managers of rival credit card companies.

As we said two weeks ago, a rational person could be forgiven for thinking that winning ''1,000,000 miles'' would get you 40 times round the world, given that the equator measures 24,900 miles.

In fact depending on the route, it might get you round just once because these are ''air-miles'', which are subject to a complex process involving calculations and vouchers which shrinks them dramatically.

''That's marketing,'' was Richard's response, pointing to the little star after the headline which leads to a tiny footnote at the bottom which states it is ''. . . subject to the terms and conditions of the Mileage Plus Programme of United Airlines''.


The new ads released last week state, realistically, what you could do with one million air miles, such as 20 trips to the US.

If they mean Los Angeles, that's a total of 290,000 miles - still a long way short of a million.

''If you deal with any mileage programme anywhere in the world, that's the way it is,'' said Richard.

''That's why in our latest advert we've made it clear exactly what that translates into.'' This business of using a little star is very useful. We're going to use one next time we accuse Hongkong Bank's adverts of being misleading.* * DOES not refer to Hongkong Bank, but a fictitious bank of the same name that does not employ libel lawyers.


Oliver's army YES, Hongkong Bank's Richard Cromwell does claim to be a descendent of Oliver Cromwell, which seems pretty plausible since old Ollie had five sons and four daughters.

His full name is Richard John Oliver Cromwell and his dad was named plain Oliver Cromwell, and he reckons some relative did the hard work of tracing the family tree back.


His dad was elected to a council in a small town on the border of England and Scotland called Melrose, the scene of some of his ancestors' more famous military actions.

Imagine getting mildly famous in Huangpu in Guangzhou with the name Chiang Kai-shek.

Back in Melrose, the local paper ran the headline: ''Oliver Cromwell is back.'' Fare trial ? THE Government's departments really showed their unique co-operative powers when dealing with an overseas worker from the Philippines who fell out with his employer recently.


He filed a complaint with the Labour Tribunal and was given a hearing date in July, then the Immigration Department refused his visa extension.

So he was effectively told to return to the Philippines, fly back for his hearing, then fly back to the Philippines.

Believe it or not, one of his complaints was that his employer was refusing to pay his air-fare home.


Data-based WHEN stockbrokers speak on the radio in the morning predicting big rises or falls on the local market, they are not using amazing analytical skills.

They are using data on their screen provided by Jardine Fleming which tracks the price of Hong Kong stocks in London overnight and provides a good guide to what's going to happen here the next morning.

Strangely, prices on this screen not only jump about during the hours when London is trading - they also jump about during lunchtime in Hong Kong.

Are English traders getting up in the middle of the night and dealing away dressed in their pyjamas to keep the market open while their colleagues 9,000 kilometres away load up with calories? Given the negligible work ethic in London these days, it would seem pretty unlikely.

In fact, the JF people are having difficulty with their computer link to the London exchange, and a load of rubbish prices are sneaking into their computer when it's supposed to be inactive.

Given the appalling year so far, these rubbish prices are often more palatable than the real ones.

Boss held up A VISITOR to Shanghai last week had a long chat with the dynamic He Pengnian, chairman of Shanghai Airlines, who talked at last length about how the airline was trying to improve punctuality and stop hijackings.

Unfortunately, Mr He was five hours late for the meeting, which put some question marks over the punctuality issue.

As for hijacking, Mr He gave the executive a nice memento as he waved him off for his flight: an ornamental dagger about six inches long.

Despite these slips, Shanghai Airlines remains China's answer to Virgin Airlines, with smiling staff and hi-tech modern aircraft features like lemon-scented disposable napkins.

If a plane is late, Mr He rings up the pilot's family to apologise and advise that they'll be late for dinner.