AIR and rail passengers are being charged up to £50 for the return of their own lost property.
Sunday Post investigation has revealed travellers are being forced to shell out to retrieve their own items – sometimes more than they are actually worth.
Lost property services have become a major industry in the UK, with most passengers carrying mobile phones or other expensive technology, not to mention the countless coats, bags and umbrellas that are absent-mindedly left behind.
And it seems many in the transport trade are cashing in, charging finders’ fees for reuniting items with their rightful owners.
Some of the highest tariffs can be seen at our major airports and train stations.
Edinburgh Airport has a sliding scale, with the most expensive items attracting a £20 admin fee. For small things such as books and neck pillows, it’s £5, a handbag or rucksack will set you back £7.50 and for suitcases, mobiles or cameras, passengers need to pay a tenner.
But commuters losing a laptop, tablet or piece of jewellery will be asked to stump up £20.
Charges are comparable with train stations Glasgow Central, Edinburgh Waverley and Manchester Piccadilly, which have banded categories, ranging in reclaim costs from £3 for keys, gloves and pushchairs to a pricey £20 for computers and video cameras.
At Aberdeen and Glasgow airports, passengers face a bill of £8 and £7 respectively to get any item of lost property back, regardless of its value. And at Prestwick, it’s £4.
In the north of England, Newcastle airport requests £7 in exchange for lost property and one Sunday Post reader in Blackpool was recently asked to pay £20 to retrieve a bracelet at Manchester Airport – the same price she paid for it!
“It’s ridiculous,” the former teacher said. “The bracelet wasn’t expensive, but it had a sentimental value. I was over the moon when the attendant on the desk said it had been found.
“But I almost fell over when he said I could only have it back if I paid £20. I mean, paying for your own items? I’ve never heard of anything like it! Surely this service should be covered in the price of a ticket.”
Some operators, on the other hand, charge nothing at all. At Dundee and Inverness Airports, if you can prove it’s yours, you can have it back, for nothing.
And while ScotRail’s website says the organisation “sometimes charges a small fee” to return items, staff joked “a packet of biscuits” would be a reasonable exchange.
Sally Francis, senior writer at MoneySavingExpert.com, says that’s the way it should be.
She added: “It’s outrageous you’re charged for mistakenly leaving something on a train or at the airport – it’s taking advantage of human error.
“For many, the relief of finding a missing item is likely to mean you hand over the cash without thinking twice, especially when it’s cheaper than buying a replacement.”
Operators defended the charges, stating they are necessary to cover the cost of providing the service.
Major airports and train stations tend to outsource lost property services as the volume of items which need to be accounted for.
Luggage-Point, the company sub-contracted to deal with lost property at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester airports, claims its charges are industry standard across the UK, but prices at Glasgow Airport are lower because of a “different commercial relationship”.
Founder Carole Stewart said: “We handle in excess of 3,000 customer inquiry telephone calls per week.
“We also have utility bills, pay rent to the airports we operate in, invest in improvements to the service and spend an enormous amount of time in ensuring lost property is handled, stored and attempted to be repatriated efficiently with a fully insured service.
“We are very proactive when it comes to attempting to re-unite passengers with their items and this is what separates us from other airports and providers.”
A spokeswoman for the ScotRail Alliance said: “We do not charge administration fees at any of our stations with lost property services, with the exception of Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley.
“Lost property services at these stations are operated separately as part of a cross-border contract covering larger mainline stations used by multiple train operators.
“As part of this UK-wide contract, which is administered by a company called Excess Baggage on behalf of Network Rail, an administration fee is charged for the recovery of lost property.”
ScotRail operates its own lost property office at Queen Street where no charge is made. accident.