Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

I've feared for a while that capitalism knows no base level of behavior.

Recent times have done nothing to disabuse me from my shivers.

It's not just the ruthlessness, but the sheer bare-faced gall that's characterized many companies and their ways.

I am, of course, not specifically referring to airlines here.

I was, though, especially moved by a sleight of spit employed by a UK railroad company called Arriva Trains Wales.

One of its customers, Adam Howells, turned to the international town crier -- Twitter -- to explain what happened in his case:

So my lost wallet was found by @ArrivaTW and they charge me £2 to release it, then take 10 percent of the cash that was in the wallet!

Helpfully, he added the hashtag #TheftByTrain.

This seems an odd policy that must have been created by someone with a charmingly twisted mind.

Then again, I fear some might have sympathy with the train company.

After all, people are careless travelers. They leave a lot of stuff behind, despite the train company reminding them to take all their belongings with them.

One might understand, then, a two-pounds charge for storing these items. 

It's the peering inside the wallet and then calculating a 10 percent vig that feels a touch callous.

Howells told the Huffington Post that there were 86 fine British pounds in his wallet. 

What if there'd been 500? Or 2,000? Would the rail company have still decided that its 10 percent charge was a fair day's commission for a fair minute's transaction?

Well, Arriva does have something of a heart. It limits the charge to 10 British pounds. 

Well, limited.

This tale took the natural course of so many corporate controversies that dribble onto Twitter.

First, the company defended the policy. It even listed all the other charges for lost property on its Twitter account. 

Look at that. It's 25 pounds for a laptop and a mere 3 for a skateboard or a stroller. But skateboards and strollers are bigger. Who came up with this scale?

This expression of its generosity didn't serve Arriva well.

Critics mentioned it makes 20 million pounds profit a year. Arriva bragged that it was so very punctual.

To which a customer, Dr. Matt Tyrer, replied: 

Punctual, perhaps, but achieved by failing to provide adequate carriages on trains forcing people to stand for entire journeys in horribly hot carriages. Customer service secondary to shareholders? Because posting a profit whilst delivering suboptimal services is pathetic.

This wasn't going well.

And so it was that Arriva finally issued this generous statement: 

Our customers' feedback is really important to us and following recent feedback on this issue we will now be changing our policy with immediate effect.

It returned its vig to Howells, too.

Please, I want to be generous here. I do. But as I looked at Arriva's lost property charges, there was one that turned my bile to very cheap Sauvingon Blanc that's been open at least a month.

Arriva charged 2 pounds to return a walking stick.

Yes, a walking stick.

Published on: Sep 15, 2018