Lonely Planet Writer

US company plans online lost property service

Everybody has done it, hurriedly packed up their bag on board an airplane or in a hotel room and then three hours later … the inevitable question comes. Where did I leave that charger, tablet, book, or important personal item?

Lost Property Offices may become a thing of the past.
Lost Property Offices may become a thing of the past. Image by Ian Wright / CC BY-SA 2.0

A US company is now planning to export its answer to the problem – an online lost and found service – to Europe and the rest of the world.

Chargerback specialise in reuniting people with their missing property, with an automated lost and found service working off a vast inventory of items left behind in airplanes, bedrooms, and other travel locations.

The company began after founder Brian Colodny lost his charger in a hotel – he was stunned by the reaction of staff there when the best advice they could offer him was simply to buy a new one.

Diane Hansen of Chargerback explained to Lonely Planet: “When somebody files their lost report, they describe their item and give their information, they can also opt in for a text service then.

“It’s basically a lost and found database and communication software that improves the entire process. When the item is found, the guest can have it held for pick-up, they can dispose of it, or they can pay to have it shipped back.”

The company said the aim for 2016 was to start growing outside the US. “This year’s plan is to go international with the aim eventually of operating worldwide,” said Ms Hansen.

Chargerback works directly with hotels, airlines, amusement parks and other similar venues, streamlining what had once been an incredibly time-consuming service for them.

The company’s own research found that 53% of hotel guests would actually change brand loyalty if a lost item request was dealt with successfully.

The cost of the service is paid for by the person who loses an item, with a small charge added to their post and packaging when it is being returned.

There are no shortage of potential customers with one study estimating that up to $500 million worth of personal items are lost each year in the United States.