Travellers face postcode lottery for fees to claim lost property ranging with some paying up to £30 an item
- Rail companies are charging property owners cash to hand back lost belongings
- Some deduct 10 per cent of cash found in wallets, and £20 for a laptop or iPad
- Books, umbrellas, passports, sunglasses and pushchairs all attract a charge
- Transport for London has received almost £500,000 over the past three years
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Travellers are shelling out up to £30 an item to reclaim lost property at train stations and airports – with charges varying greatly around the country.
Four rail companies even charge 10 per cent of cash found in lost wallets.
Lost property charges typically range from £2 for items such as umbrellas, books and gloves to £20 for laptops, iPads and passports.
Transport for London has made almost £500,000 from lost property fees
On top of administrative costs, some firms levy a daily storage fee. ScotRail charges up to £2 a day for storage with a maximum charge of £30. The company, along with London Northwestern Railway and West Midlands Trains, takes 10 per cent of cash found in lost wallets – but not more than £10.
The Greater Anglia rail company charges passengers £2 to collect lost keys or books and £20 for high value electronics such as laptops. Customers must also pay a £1 storage fee for every 24 hours for expensive or larger items.
Transport for London makes customers pay £20 to return an iPad and £10 for a buggy. Airport lost property companies charge up to £20 to hand back a passport or mobile phone, £15 for an ID card and £5 for a pair of glasses.
Excess Baggage Company, which has sites at Gatwick and Heathrow, has four bands. Items such as umbrellas, scarves and pushchairs cost £3 to collect. Briefcases, cameras and clothes cost £5, mobile phones £10 and laptops £20.
Luggage Point, which operates at airports including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester and Stansted, charges three times more if items are branded.
It charges £2.50 to store unbranded gloves, belts, scarves – but £8 if the items are branded. Almost all companies refused to disclose how much revenue they make from lost property each year.
But Transport for London publishes its figures on its website. Over the past three years, it has received £463,273 from claimed items and £9,354 in postage fees.
Martyn James, of complaints website Resolver, said: ‘Why should they be able to hold your belongings to ransom? These firms are raking it in, taking thousands of pounds and it is completely unfair. Other firms do not make you pay to get your belongings back.’
Mike Hewitson, of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said the current lost property systems were ‘not fit for purpose’. The group is calling for a centralised national system and ‘sensible rules’ across the rail network.
A spokesman for Excess Baggage said if the charges were not levied ‘then the travelling public are paying for the forgetfulness of a few, in the shape of higher ticket charges’.
He stressed the firm incurred costs including staff, rent and maintaining its website, adding ironically: ‘Strangely, none of the above are free of charge’. Jacqueline Starr, of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train firms, said the charges have been ‘approved by the Department for Transport’.
Rail companies are charging passengers £20 to return missing laptops and iPads which are handed into the lost property desk
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