Lost and found?

30 September 2010

The news this week that only one in five lost wallets are returned to their rightful owner is hardly surprising.  Us Brits, honest? Of course not!

To test this theory, life insurance company CPP undertook a surprising experiment. It dropped wallets containing £10 in cash, a photograph, tickets, stamps and several business cards, which linked to members of the CPP team in five UK cities – Birmingham, London, Glasgow, Cardiff and Leeds.

Birmingham fared the worst, with only one in four wallets returned and with nothing in them. Surprisingly, London residents proved to be the most honest, with all of them returned, still containing the original contents. 

Paradoxically, 60% of Brits claim that they would hand in, or track down, the owner of a lost wallet. Hmm.

I lost my wallet in London several years ago, never to be seen again, despite containing my driving licence and several business cards with email and mobile phone number on them.

Friends of mine constantly lose wallets containing bank cards and cash, but none have ever been returned. Without sounding flippant, the consequences can be more irritating than upsetting, with the hassle of cancelling cards and arranging for some temporary cash while the bank sorts out a replacement.

Recently, a friend told me a story. She lost her wallet while in a pub in Islington, London, which contained about £5 cash, a few bank cards and some receipts. Nothing particularly of worth, you might agree. The main sticking point was that her wallet was by designer Marc Jacobs, costing around £150 – a much more costly item to replace.

However, a week or so later, she received a call from an elderly gentleman, who had found the wallet outside his house with a Boots advantage card and a university student card. He’d gone to the trouble of contacting both Boots and the university, who put him in contact with my friend. She was overjoyed at the thought of getting the wallet back – which was worth much, much more than any of the contents that had inevitably disappeared.