Letters to the Editor, August 21, 2015

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 August, 2015, 2:34pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 August, 2015, 2:34pm

Expanded law a boon to consumers

I refer to the report by Clifford Lo ("Gym staff arrested on coercion charges", August 13). My daughter suffered the same ordeal that the victim went through.

She tried out the Sha Tin branch of Physical in January after she received a three-month free trial offer. When she was leaving, she was approached by a salesman who said he could get her a good membership deal but needed her Hong Kong identity card and credit card. He came back with a contract all typed up with her personal particulars and credit card zapped.

My daughter was luckier than the victim in the sense that her contract was for only two years, amounting to HK$8,500. The next hour was filled with humiliating and intimidating language, trying to get her signature.

My daughter finally succumbed to the pressure when he told her he would cancel the contract the next day if she decided not to join. But the next day, he said he actually meant he would cancel it only if she could find an offer of the same plan at a lower price than Physical's.

My daughter then went to the Consumer Council (whose letter to Physical was ignored, as expected) and, upon the advice of a lawyer friend, filed a claim with the Small Claims Tribunal. We did not know that the Customs and Excise Department would entertain her!

Over the past several months, Physical had stood very firm on its position, as reflected in its defence statements.

To our surprise, however, earlier this month it suddenly offered to settle the case with a full refund. Frankly, my wife and I were a little disappointed as we had really looked forward to seeing how these young men would dare lie in court.

Nonetheless, my daughter accepted the offer, as we all felt exhausted following months of mental torture. My daughter, a medical student, has a very demanding study schedule and just could not afford more time continuing with the fight.

I am so glad that the relevant law has recently been expanded to include services so that for cases like this, the Customs and Excise Department can now do something to make Hong Kong a better place in which to live.

Alfred Wong, Tsim Sha Tsui

Simply, Uber offers safer cars than a taxi

In the recent letters and articles about Uber and the local taxi service, most points have been covered (refusal to hire, speeding, overcharging, not knowing directions etc) but one important point has been left out: car safety.

If the police, Transport Department and regulators are concerned about the insurance provided to Uber users, it seems to imply that they are concerned about the consequences of an accident leading to personal injuries. We can assume that material damage to a Uber car is none of their concerns. Well and good, but in that case, shouldn't they be looking at the problem from a different angle?

Which car is more susceptible to see injured passengers if involved in a serious accident? A Toyota Alphard or Mercedes-Benz Uber car equipped with airbags for passengers and the latest safety features, or a 30-year-old Toyota Crown Comfort taxi with no airbags?

No airbags! Not a single car manufacturer would think of offering such a car in Hong Kong in 2015. New private cars without airbags have probably not been available for sale in the city for years, and no private motorist in his or her right mind would think about buying one in the age of airbags, anti-lock braking systems and lane controls. But this is what we get for 95 per cent of the good old Hong Kong taxis.

I use Uber in Hong Kong and overseas not just because of the many other advantages it brings compared with Hong Kong taxis, but mainly because it offers safe cars. For that, I am willing to pay more than the fare of a red taxi.

I would suspect that out of the 55,000 who signed the petition supporting Uber, a few have a preference for cars from this century.

Raphaël Blot, Clear Water Bay

Not enough good jobs in Hong Kong

I read with interest the editorial that "Graduates must think beyond Hong Kong" (August 10). I have been on the record supporting education as a way to prepare for an uncertain future. I think we all subscribe to that.

Hong Kong's fundamental flaw - and it is significant - is the jobs programme that exists to placate the thousands of people chasing after a smaller number of good jobs. I have been stunned in the past to see four or five people working in a retail store, when clearly one or two would have sufficed.

I've seen attendants at car parks "operating" the ticket dispenser, while I sit there stunned, recognising that I simply could have performed the task, all the while thinking: "Does this person realise how dumb this is?"

The simple answer, of course, is that some of these jobs don't need to exist. But if Hong Kong's unemployment rate skyrocketed once efficiencies were introduced, we would see wholesale anarchy.

So, the status quo is this: educate people and give them hope, send the unfortunate college-educated folks to the car park to dispense tickets and, meanwhile, let's bemoan the sadness of all this.

As the editorial states, "talent flows to where there is opportunity". I agree with the premise, which is: go elsewhere, you educated people. Forget the car parks and the dead-end jobs. There simply aren't enough jobs here.

Mark G Hooper, Pok Fu Lam

The law won't deter mobile phone zombies

In Hong Kong, the practice known as distracted walking - which happens mostly when people are walking and looking at their smartphones - is a nuisance and can be dangerous for others. However, I don't agree with those who say it can be controlled by legislation.

It is not practical. A lot of people do not look where they are going. If police were deployed to catch them, this would be a waste of manpower and it would anger people. Legislation that cannot be enforced undermines the rule of law.

Jason Wong Kun-tong, Tseung Kwan O

Baggage handling has improved

I refer to Callan Anderson's letter on baggage delivery at Hong Kong International Airport ("Long wait for luggage is now normal", August 17).

Airport Authority Hong Kong is committed to maintaining the airport's status as an international and regional aviation hub. As part of this, the authority devotes considerable efforts and resources to enhancing the performance of the airport's baggage handling system.

In financial year 2014-15, the Hong Kong airport delivered the first bag within 20 minutes 92.8 per cent of the time. This figure showed improvement from a year earlier.

Hong Kong International Airport is one of the busiest passenger airports in the world, handling more than 1,100 flights and serving more than 170,000 passengers each day. Factors such as adverse weather conditions, unexpected technical faults and other operational complications may lead to occasional baggage delays.

In the face of rising traffic demand, the authority is working closely with the ramp handling agents of airlines to improve the airport's overall baggage-handling performance.

We also constantly review the entire process, from unloading to arrival, and propose initiatives to ensure a smoother, faster process.

We would like to emphasise that the authority spares no effort to improve the airport's service performance and provide an even more experience for passengers.

Steven Yiu, acting general manager, airfield, Airport Authority Hong Kong

More should report careless driving

I wish to commend the New Territories South police traffic investigation team 2 for professional and efficient work in helping me to successfully prosecute a driver for careless driving.

In accommodating my request to first provide my statement by email, and then to attend any police station of my choosing to refine and sign my witness statement, it took three months for the driver to be found guilty for cutting into my lane without due care and without signalling. The driver was fined HK$1,800 in the Sha Tin Magistrates' Court.

This example should encourage other people to report careless driving, which is common on Hong Kong's roads, even if the incident does not involve a collision or injury.

The police must make it convenient to file legitimate complaints. If more successful prosecutions of careless driving result, drivers will be forced to improve their driving standards, knowing there is a good chance they will be charged otherwise. This can only be good for Hong Kong's roads.

Will Lai, Western