public transportation

MRT3 apologizes to commuter for damaged laptop but says not liable for it

Lance Spencer Yu

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MRT3 apologizes to commuter for damaged laptop but says not liable for it

'NEW NORMAL.' In this file photo, commuters crowd the MRT at the Araneta Center-Cubao station during the first day of the work week to avail of the monthlong free train ride implemented by the government, on March 28, 2022.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

In a viral tweet, the passenger complained that the train station's guards failed to stop the X-ray machine when her laptop got jammed inside – an account that the MRT3 disputes

MANILA, Philippines – The management of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) has apologized for its handling of an incident that left a passenger’s laptop damaged but clarified that it was not liable for any losses or damage incurred while inside its station.

Responding to a complaint about a passenger whose laptop was damaged while going through the train station’s X-ray scanner, the MRT3 management said that its policy on electronic gadgets was displayed beside the X-ray scanner near the station’s entry point.

“The signage also reminds passengers that MRT3 will not be liable for any baggage losses or [damage] incurred while the X-ray scanner is in operation and also while the passenger is inside MRT3 premises,” the MRT3 management said in a press release on Tuesday, March 21.

The MRT3 management said they had already reached out to the passenger, Allana Columbres, to apologize for the incident. The train operator also apologized for the “manner by which the on-duty personnel failed to act with more compassion towards her” after Columbres said that the station’s guards belittled the damage done to her laptop.

The MRT3’s security provider will also be launching a “series of customer service training for all security personnel of the rail line.”

‘Worst commuting experience’

It was a weekday rush hour on March 15 when Allana Columbres, a college student, had her laptop damaged at the MRT3 Taft station. Passing through the train station’s security checkpoint, Columbres said she placed her backpack flat on the X-ray scanner’s conveyor belt.

The passenger behind her then “forcefully pushed his bag inside the scanner, which caused my backpack to be pushed vertically upright,” according to her now-viral tweets. Her bag, which contained the laptop, got jammed inside the scanner.

While she struggled to dislodge her bag from the scanner, Columbres said the guards stationed at the checkpoint merely watched her and did not hit the stop switch for the conveyor belt. 

“They just watched and reacted offensively as I was panicking in front of them. We all heard a loud crack, and then the conveyor started moving again. I immediately checked if my laptop was OK, only to see that it had been bent, and the screen got horribly shattered,” Columbres said in a tweet.

https://twitter.com/allanamarieco/status/1637490788614524931

The MRT3 management, however, disputed her account, claiming that a review of the CCTV footage showed that Columbres’ bag was already in an upright position when she placed it on the conveyor belt. 

“There was also an adequate space between her bag and that of the passenger who was next in line to her. Moreover, MRT3’s X-ray machine operator immediately stopped the X-ray scanner when the jam registered on the monitor, to prevent further pileup. It was then that Ms. Columbres was able to retrieve her bag,” the statement by the MRT3 management read.

“I might go to them to see for myself,” Columbres told Rappler on Tuesday. “But as of now, I’m really confused. I don’t recall any person stopping the X-ray scanner.”

The MRT3 management also said that their policy was for passengers to place electronic gadgets in a separate tray on the conveyor belt – which, they said, had not been done in this case. However, Columbres and several other commuters noted that this policy was rarely followed, with trays seemingly being “for display in the MRT Taft station.”

Asked whether she believed that the MRT3 management should review its policy on electronic gadgets, Columbres said, “Definitely, considering how many people have reached out to me with the same incident.”

‘Disappointed’

According to Columbres, after the incident, the station guard turned to the line of passengers and said on their megaphone, “Ilagay n’yo po nang maayos ‘yung bag n’yo para ‘di kayo matulad kay ate dito (Place your bags properly so that you don’t end up like her).”

“I’d also like to clarify that I’m not mad at the guards, and I’m not blaming them for what happened. I’m really just disappointed because of their lack of urgency and sympathy for the passengers; especially after tweeting, ang daming nag-reach out sakin sa (so many people reached out to me in) replies, DMs, and even on Facebook, telling me about their personal experience with the guards,” Columbres told Rappler.

‘Yung iba raw nanakawan, pero sila ‘yung sinisi, ‘yung iba na-discriminate (LGBTQ+ and PWD community), ‘yung iba same with me na nasiraan ng gadgets. Nakaka-alarm na ganito sila ka-desensitized sa alarming matters,” she added.

(Others got robbed, only for guards to blame them. Others got discriminated against for being part of the LGBTQ+ and PWD communities. Others had the same experience as me, with their gadgets getting damaged. It’s alarming that this is how desensitized they are to these alarming matters.)

Columbres shared that the laptop was quite new, having been bought only in 2022 as a birthday gift from her father, an overseas Filipino worker.

“This laptop is very sentimental to me kaya ingat na ingat ako dito (which was why I was so careful with it) – only for it to be destroyed because of an inconsiderate person,” she said.

In light of the incident, Columbres said that she believed the training of guards should be changed.

“It’s not fair for us passengers to constantly be blamed for the guards’ lack of sympathy and compassion. It’s not fair to be treated as less-than-humans on almost a daily basis – my fellow commuters can attest to this,” she said. – Rappler.com

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.