The success story of millionaire Hugo Owens, who got rich on someone else's luggageBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/the-success-story-of-millionaire-hugo-owens-who-got-rich-on-someone-elses-luggage
When going on a trip, we always take bags, backpacks and suitcases with us. Therefore, every year about 4.3 billion pieces of luggage are moved around the world by planes alone. Approximately 25 million of them disappear. Sometimes movers steal things, but much more often they are simply lost. A tag may come off the suitcase and the airline simply does not know who to deliver the luggage to. Millions are being made on these losses, and quite legitimately.
Airlines try to find the owner of the lost luggage, but it does not always work out. In the USA, suitcases and bags that could not be returned are sent to the Unclaimed Luggage company. This company is the only official seller of lost items in America.
The company has been around for half a century. It was founded in the early 70s by Hugo Owens, having bought unclaimed luggage from a bus company in Washington with $300 borrowed from his father-in-law. Things from other people's suitcases managed to be sold in less than a day with a large profit.
At first, Owens worked alone, but by the end of the 70s, the company's staff had increased to 7 people. Unclaimed Luggage has signed contracts with 3 major airlines and about 3,000 suitcases passed through the company every month. The business made a good profit and Owens became a millionaire.
For more than twenty years Hugo Owens headed his profitable business, and when he died in the 90s, the company passed to his son. At that moment, more than 7,000 pieces of luggage per day passed through the warehouses of Unclaimed Baggage! There are firms engaged in such business in many countries of the world, but the American company remains unsurpassed in terms of work and profit.
Every year, airlines spend about $2 billion (147.2 billion rubles) on marking and searching for luggage. In the event that the loss cannot be found, the carrier pays compensation to the owner of the items. Thanks to companies such as Unclaimed Luggage, it is possible to compensate at least part of the costs.
The company founded by Hugo Owens strictly keeps a trade secret and the cost of purchasing luggage is not disclosed. Some say that the calculation takes place for each piece of luggage, while others claim that luggage is bought by weight, as a second-hand. Employees of the company say that suitcases and bags are a cat in a bag. You never know what's going to be inside.
Sometimes the findings are unexpected even for experienced employees. So, one day an F‑16 fighter guidance system was found in a suitcase, and another time a precious violin made by a Stradivarius student. There are also dangerous finds – once a bag with a live rattlesnake was bought.
Things go through mandatory processing. Clothes and shoes are washed, jewelry is cleaned, and all personal information is removed from gadgets and drives. After that, the finds are put up for sale at a price below the market by 20-80 percent. When evaluating, many factors are taken into account, and first of all, the state of the thing.
Since the company has to deal with the loss, it is not surprising that problems arise. Some people recognize their items for sale. But no exceptions are made – you need to pay for the goods, because Unclaimed Luggage also does not get it for free. Someone does not like it and sometimes even goes to court. But the company 's position looks like this:
And this is fair, because the insurance company has already paid compensation for the suitcase lost on the way, and according to the law, even the things found no longer belong to the former owner.
In the USA, the rules of air transportation have changed not so long ago. Previously, pets could only be transported in the luggage compartment. But recently, the salon was allowed to take a pony.