March 26, 2004

Lost and found but not yet back in my possession

Brian Micklethwait | London Underground

Last night, as I have already reported here, I lost my Filofax. (And yes, I still use Filofax. I like Filofax. I have tried silly little pocket computers. They are useless, I find.)

Correction, it began with me not being able to find my Filofax. It took me a while to work out, by a process of elimination, that I had actually lost it, and that, to be precise, I had left it, on top of a telephone, at Sloane Square tube station.

So, this afternoon, with no very great sense of optimism, I began the process of trying to recover my Filofax. First, I rang 118 500, to find out who I should really be ringing. It turns out that individual tube stations can't individually be rung, but I was told of a number I could ring for London Transport Lost Property. I got a machine. Leave it about three days minimum, said the machine, and then call round at our office in Baker Street, between 9.30 am and 2 pm (they close at 2 pm). What I could not do, it seemed, was ring anyone to try to find out if if they had my property without going anywhere.

So I went to Sloane Square tube station, with no very great optimism. But, I went. The man I asked had scary tattoos on his arms, but he was very nice about it and immediately showed me into his Station Manager's office. The Manager asked me my name, and told me that my Filofax had been recovered. However, it had already been cast into the maw of the London Underground Lost Property system, and I would, as already stated by that machine, have to wait until about Tuesday, and then go to Baker Street, before 2 pm. The Manager gave me a little chit to give to the Baker Street people. He was also very nice. As was another lady who was in the office on another matter who had once worked at Baker Street and was able to advise me of the earliest time when a visit to Baker Street would be likely to work.

They do have it. I will, barring disasters, get it back. Good. The people I managed to speak to, once I had gone walking and actually met them, were as charming and helpful as such people can ever be, and I thanked them effusively. It is taking a bit of bother on my part to actually get it back. Not good, for me, but I guess that if they make it too smooth and simple to recover lost property, even more people will be leaving junk on their trains. And, the times being what they now are, they don't want to encourage that by being too obliging to people who now do this. Think of my delay before getting my Filofax back as a fine.

So, on the whole, I have to say, I'm impressed. I just wish I could also thank whoever handed my Filofax in to the station staff in the first place.

Stay tuned for the excitements of going to Baker Street.

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Comments

There was an article in the Times (I think) not so long ago which sadly didn't even make it into "In Brief" all about lost property in Japan. Apparently, honour is a big deal over there and so passengers will hand in almost anything from the most miserable umbrella to large wedges of cash.

Posted by Patrick Crozier on March 27, 2004

Amazingly quite a lot gets handed back on the tube too.

I remember seeing this article from Reader's Digest that made it onto the tube's site some time ago.

Apparently "Every year, 60,000 people recover their belongings through the lost property office and bless the good name of London citizenry. Each of the 135,000 items handed in last year represents an act of honesty by the public, transport staff and black taxi drivers. Indeed the BBCs Watchdog found in a survey of world cities that the London Lost Property Office was easily the most efficient."

Posted by Annie Mole on March 28, 2004

Brian, I'm glad someone turned in your Filofax. I left a case (full of Christmas presents, an expensive camera, and -- most worryingly -- all my toiletries) on a Southwest Trains service to Dorking just before Christmas, and well remember both the sick feeling I got when I realised how stupid I'd been, and the feeling of relief when I got the thing back.

Shame that (I think) I left my wallet in a taxi last night, which the taxi company says has not been found. Could have been much worse, though -- they could have got my favourite lipstick instead of my money.

Posted by Jackie D on March 29, 2004

I have left my camera both on an underground train in Boston, and on a ferry in Hong Kong. In both instances I got it back.

Posted by Michael Jennings on March 30, 2004

I forgot my mobile in Tokyo, and somehow it was sent in a package back to london when i came back

Posted by Juan on April 29, 2004

I was travelling on the Narita Express from the airport to Shinjuku when I quickly realised it was my stop! In my hurry to get my suitcase off the train, I had forgotten my daypack under the seat. In it were my laptop, mobile, passport, wallet and everything else I wanted to keep safe!

I ran to the station manager's office, who was very helpful with my pidgin Japanese and his pigin English! Through an interpreter on the phone they made lots of enquiries further up the line. Turns out someone handed it in! But they can't bring it down, I will have to go there and get it. No problem!

An hour and an empty station later, I arrive back at the station master's office where we work out there was a misunderstanding... I should have gone to Kita (north) not Higasha (east) Ikebukuro station, even though Kita was run by another company. Off I go again, I arrive at the Ikebukuro and am a bit lost, so I go to the helpdesk. The lady motions for me to follow her, and makes some enquiries by radio... the station master and her exchange some words. Next thing I know we are both running down the concourse where she is personally escorting me to the other company's station... but we both have to buy a ticket of course.

Upon arrival, a nice old man is waiting (and has been waiting for over 2 hours) by the ticket machine holding my bag. Apparently the railyards are close to the station and easier to reach than sending the bag back down the line... after lots of "arigatou gozaimashita"s, I was one happy camper!

Thank you JR!

Posted by Blaise on July 17, 2004

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