Waiter, you'll thank me when you've been fired

THERE were an awful lot of complaints in the restaurants and shops around Pacific Place yesterday lunchtime.

We feel rather sorry for the staff in Dan Ryan's, Watson's and other places, who must have wondered why the world had taken a sudden dislike to them.

What they didn't know until this morning was that a management consultancy called Time Manager (Hong Kong) was running a course titled ''A Complaint is a Gift'' in the Pacific Place conference centre.

It was designed to help companies listen to their customers for a change.

One of the assigned exercises was to make complaints at lunchtime and analyse the response.

''We complained four times over lunch,'' was one proud comment.

One inspired person asked for individual receipts after lunch in a busy restaurant. Another genius didn't want to pay for a lemon drink because it hadn't come with white sugar.

They complained that their restaurants were too hot, the walls were dirty and that the Diet Coke came from a soda fountain rather than a can.

One person rang their own company and asked for difficult information.

''When you complain, you're giving a gift. You're helping them get better,'' said Time Manager's Elcee Ascuncion Villa, who ought to be very wary of walking alone at night in Admiralty again.

In most cases, the complaint had an element of justification, but there seemed to be no evidence that the recipient of the ''gift'' had been grateful.

We've often wondered why sensible suggestions from normal customers are ignored, while crazy ones from management consultants get adopted.

Perhaps if customers had an Apple Mac to typeset their suggestions, used words like ''facilitate'' and enclosed a $100,000 invoice, then firms would take them more seriously.

Get the picture? J & A Securities is one of the more, errrr, entrepreneurial mainland stockbrokers.

It's got a prime spot in the Shenzhen Special Zone Daily for an ad saying it wants a public relations person, aged less than 25, female and single.

You need to bring a photo along with your CV, and you ''must be ambitious''.

Polluteness IF this space is blank tomorrow, then it's not because we've received a ''gift'' from some big firm of lawyers, it's because we have decided to go to Baden-Wurttemberg in Germany for an industrial holiday.

A promotion hosted yesterday by the State Tourist Board, among others at the Grand Hyatt hotel, was promoting the place as a ''tourist destination and unspoiled industrial area''.

Enemy within A FEW weeks ago, we noted that the Government releases figures for ''external trade'' and wondered if ''internal trade'' figures were collated, showing trade between different parts of the territory.

We thought they'd arrived yesterday. Some strange figures on ''domestic exports'' were faxed through by the Census and Statistics Department.

It turned out to be the usual dull stuff about textiles and toys going to the United States.

We are now more sure than ever that internal trade figures are calculated.

They show things like how Discovery Bay's invisible exports cancel out the vegetables they import from the New Territories, but they are suppressed by a government fearful of revealing how much posh French wine is imported to the Peak.

Chim campaign CHIM Pui-chung, self-described madman of Legco, who represents the financial services industry, has lost his appeal to the Privy Council in England about three properties of his in Central.

The decision makes it all the more likely that his remarkable campaign against the Land Development Corp (LDC) will become even more vehement.

The LDC, not normally considered an evil demon, incurred the legislator's wrath by trying to resume three of his properties in Central for $163 million with a huge development in mind, while he reckoned they were worth much more.

It's a strange case, as all the arguments take place as if the buildings were still standing.

We're sure the last time we passed they had all been pulled down. To the uninitiated, this seems a bit of a fait accompli.

The Privy Council told him it would be more appropriate for him to seek a fresh judicial appeal in Hong Kong, and awarded costs against him.

One worry about the next elections is that some dull pro-China stuffed suit will grab Mr Chim's seat, meaning his gold Rolls-Royce will no longer grace the Legco car park.

Guardfarce THE tale about the Police Officer's Club getting new private-sector guards reminded Jean Robinson of Disco Bay of her days living in the Sudan - it being a pretty safe place at the time.

In spite of this, the British Ambassador had a bodyguard squad of young military police who lived in the flat above her.

Outside the door of these super-fit, presumably armed, bodyguards was their guard: an elderly Sudanese man, barefoot, armed only with a Bible and a bottle of water.