We all deal with lost and found property regularly. Tracking down the owners of found property can take time. The value of the item might determine how much effort you expend. Dealing with claims of lost property can be tricky as passengers usually assume your chauffeur took the item if you don’t have it.
Your charter contract should contain a statement that states you are not responsible for lost items or items left in vehicles. This can be very important when a passenger calls and says she is sure she left a $300 pair of Gucci sunglasses in your vehicle. This statement may save you if you are hauled in to Small Claims Court to reimburse the loss.
Found Cell Phones
Cell phones are the most common item lost and found item in charter vehicles. They are expensive and warrant an effort to return it to the owner.
The quickest is to call the party who chartered your vehicle and describe the phone. However, if the vehicle has carried multiple parties during the day and it is unknown which party left the phone behind, there are other steps you can take:
• Search contacts for “Mom” or “Dad.” You also can try searching for “ICE,” a common entry for “In Case of Emergency.” Call those numbers and let them know you found a phone with their number in it.
• If that fails, call yourself with the found phone and see if the phone number is revealed.
• Call that number and listen to the voicemail. It may provide clues as to whose phone it is or the carrier name.
• Call the carrier and provide the serial number and/or phone number and let them contact their customer.
• If the phone is dead and you can locate a charger that fits, charge it and then check for new text messages and reply to them that you have the phone.
If you can’t find an owner, hang on to the item for a reasonable amount of time such as six months before donating it to a charity such as Goodwill. Many items left behind such as sweaters, shoes, neckties and jewelry may find a new home. Make sure you have a signed contract stating you are not responsible for lost items before disposing of anything. You might even give your staff first pick of the items to be donated.
Clear Rules for Staff
Make sure that everyone in your company knows exactly where to turn in found items. You should have one employee responsible for keeping a log with a description of every item found and turned in along with the date and vehicle ID where it was found. This might help in reuniting the passenger with a lost item if he or she calls. In no circumstance should staff be allowed to keep or use any found item even with the best of intentions. When a passenger comes to your office looking for an item and you call your chauffeur and he has it at home, it looks bad for your company and for the chauffeur.
Smooth Operations provides a broad range of information focused on new ideas and approaches in management, human resources, customer service, marketing, networking and technology. Have something to share or would like covered? You can reach LCT contributing editor and California operator Jim Luff at[email protected]