Claiming your lost property could now cost you £50

Lost Property Office

Travelers who lose items on the plane, train or coach are being charged up to £50 to retrieve their possessions – and the companies that manage the lost property rack can run into millions every year, The Telegraph to reveal.

While reuniting a commuter with a lost wallet or a tourist with a reduced passport used to be part of good customer service, almost all major train stations and airports have contracted lost property services to third-party companies, say customers whose belongings are being stolen. they keep. “redeemably”.

Fees vary by item and location. A passport or small bag left at Gatwick, Stansted or Manchester Airport will cost £25 to retrieve from third party Lost Property.

A set of keys left at one of these airports will cost £15 to return, while a book or pair of glasses will cost £5. Each comes with additional charges if the item needs to be returned to you by post. Lost Property also provides the same service for inbound flights of some airlines to the above airports.

The same company charges up to £20 per item left at London train stations including King’s Cross, London Bridge, Euston and Victoria, as well as major train stations in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Edinburgh, and for train services terminating at those stations.

Even when travelers have paid, the firm warns that it can take up to two weeks – or even longer in busy periods – for the lost item to arrive back home.

Lost Property Claims are the costs charged to the customer to cover the cost of providing a lost property return service. But an analysis of the latest Companies House filings shows that the charges helped parent company Excess Baggage Holdings Limited turn over £21m in its latest accounts – of which £13.3m was in the UK – with a gross profit margin of more than 60pc. .

The company does not explain why the service is more expensive at airports than at train stations, or why items of the same size, such as a passport and a book, have such different charges.

Michael Solomon Williams, from the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “It is completely unfair that passengers who leave goods by mistake while traveling should be left paying a large bill to get their own possessions returned to them.

“Companies should not be taking advantage of passengers in this way and it undermines confidence in the railways especially at a time when we need more people taking the train.”

Competing firm Smarte Carte is the third-party lost property service for Heathrow and Bristol Airports, as well as providing lost property services to airlines flying into Heathrow including British Airways and Virgin Galactic.

Finder fees charged to customers between £5 and £25 helped them transfer £1.46m according to their latest account – up from a third of that the previous year.

On the FAQ section of the website the company responds to the suggestion “I feel like you are holding my property for ransom?” with the claim: “​​​​All lost items would be destroyed without offering a reconnection process.”

At airports including Edinburgh, Glasgow, London Luton and Birmingham, Luggage Point airport services take care of lost items for a fee of up to £27.

If travelers cannot post the item to them at the point they require it, after the first 90 days the business will charge a storage fee of £10 per day, which can increase the cost to “maximum fee £50 , including recovery costs”.

The customers of the lost property firms are much less than impressed. One Twitter user said: “Unfortunately lost an iPad at Stansted Airport yesterday. ​​​​​​They got it – great – but they lost £25 in property charges! Robbery b—–ds” while another said: “#UnbelievableTemerity – Edinburgh Airport charges £20 for recovering lost property searching security – is this normal?”

Other modes of transport have adopted similar schemes. National Express coaches charge customers up to £20 per item to recover lost property. Transport for London has the same maximum charge, and in the 2021/22 financial year it took £97,000 from customers who claimed their items, and in 2019/20 it was £199,000.

TfL lost luggageTfL lost luggage

TfL has a maximum charge of £20 per item

Excess Baggage told the Telegraph: “We are the only Rail Delivery Group to set rail station charges, and these charges have remained the same since 2001. The charges we charge are below the levels set out in the National Conditions of Transport . For airports, the tariff (which is very similar) reflects the operating costs at such locations.

“The reality is that the user of the service pays for lost property, or the cost is added to everyone with their ticket to fund the service. The ‘user pays’ approach is widely accepted in this country, across Europe and elsewhere.

“The gross profit margin does not take into account overheads which, as you can imagine, are significant. Surplus Baggage Stations Ltd. a small profit in 2022, after two years of pandemic, when very significant losses were incurred.”

Luggage Point said its fee structure is “designed with fairness and transparency in mind”, handles nearly 100,000 lost items each year and receives thousands of other phone and email inquiries, all answered by a real person and “not our fees there. for storage only – they cover the full management and protection of lost goods, delivering a service that effectively protects and recovers lost property”.

It also indicated that it returns children’s toys and books, and medical equipment and accessibility devices, free of charge.

Smart Carte has been contacted for comment.

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