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Blog // Travel
October 10, 2008

Back In Hong Kong – A Service Black Hole?

Well, after a memorable pair of flights on Finnair from Copenhagen to Helsinki and Helsinki to Hong Kong (with Elk and Reindeer on the menu) we are back in Hong Kong. In a way we were back in Hong Kong even before we left Copenhagen! Our quickly planned break (well, L’s quickly planned trip) was […]

Well, after a memorable pair of flights on Finnair from Copenhagen to Helsinki and Helsinki to Hong Kong (with Elk and Reindeer on the menu) we are back in Hong Kong. In a way we were back in Hong Kong even before we left Copenhagen!

Our quickly planned break (well, L’s quickly planned trip) was inspired, in part, by many lengthy discussions over Monocle’s list of Most Liveable Cities in the World. Of course, Hong Kong doesn’t make the list, but more interestingly, Copenhagen topped it this year – which made us very curious indeed. I’ll write some more on that, when my head clears a little.

Of course every hotel-based holiday ends with the ritual of paying the bill, which in this age of premium credit cards should be easy no? Well, no indeed. Our Hong Kong banks loves to play a complex dance with it’s customers, they just won’t let you be secure that your payments will be approved – for your convenience of course. L spoke to them before we left, trying to ensure the payment for the bill would not be rejected, since we often get random rejections while travelling, even with zero balance. The bank wouldn’t confirm they would approve the transaction, even if we told them the amount, even if we told them the time it would be paid, even if we rang them as it was being processed. We just had to try and hope it would be approved. So much for “saving face.”

It’s like a lottery where the bank has our money and plays with it – financial lotteries seem to be the order of things these days.

A few hours later I was rung at Copenhagen airport by my mobile service provider. Apparently I had been using my iPhone while overseas and they didn’t like that and wanted to disconnect my service. I’m already on the most premium of premium iPhone data plans, having given them more than I paid for my first car as an upfront payment, but that didn’t help – I had transgressed their data roaming threshold – after 5 days of modest use! Will they refund the international calls I had to make to get the issue sorted out – no.

See a pattern here?

Which brings us back to the question of liveability. Hong Kong has a lot going for it, in some ways, but liveability is surely about customer service and these two fairly typical (for us) examples are neither customer oriented, nor service oriented. They are large companies hiding behind customer service rhetoric to manager their own risks. We are disconnecting your mobile service for your own convenience? Really? We may or may may not approve your transaction for your own protection. Rubbish.

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