Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Pulling A Fraudulent Holiday Sickie

Comedian Marcus Brigstocke used to do a routine about a particular segment of the daytime television-viewing public and the adverts designed to appeal to them. These were ads for loans for those who would otherwise not get them and claims for compensation, such as for holidays that go wrong. Or rather don't go wrong but are made to appear as if they do.

Brigstocke was biting. The people they get on these ads to sell you this stuff, he observed, "you've never seen more ropey-looking pikey fuckers in your life". It's a good case of empathetic diversity marketing. Brigstocke's, let's abbreviate them to PFs, were appealing to PFs watching the telly. And we all know the type of PF he had in mind: Benefits Street lowlife dragging their knuckles along the floor.

Let's make one thing very clear. These PFs represent only a small minority of those who go to giant, economy-class all-inclusives, but they exist in sufficient number to make the efforts of ambulance chasers, aka claims' farmers, worthwhile. And why is this type of all-inclusive targeted? Because a) there are huge numbers of tourists, b) a lot of them are British, and c) this type of PF doesn't stay anywhere else. In the process, further fuel is added to the prejudice directed at guests who simply don't merit it (because they're honest and decent). Moreover, folk who genuinely do have grounds for complaint and claims are tarred by the same brush.

The sufficient number is costing hotels in Mallorca, Benidorm, the Costa del Sol and Tenerife a small fortune. Exact figures seem elusive, as reports give different ones. According to Cehat, the national hoteliers confederation, the figure nationwide last year was fifty million euros. But now we are told that last year in Mallorca alone the figure was 50 million.

Someone is either exaggerating or underestimating. Let's just accept that the scam is costing hotels a hell of a lot of money, and it is a scam - a total scam. The PF holidaymaker can get his or her holiday paid for (plus more if lucky) simply by filling in a form, provided by the scamming claims' farmers, and offering the weakest of evidence (imodium bought from a chemist's shop). There isn't even a need to file the complaint while on holiday, such is the absurdity of UK law that permits claims to be made long afterwards and which places the burden of proof on the hotel/tour operator.

Where the claim is made via the tour operator, which it typically is, contractual arrangements allow the tour operator - rather than fight a case that might end up costing 50,000 pounds - to cough up and then subtract the compensation payment from a hotel's invoice. Hence, it is the hotels which always lose out.

As far as I am aware, there has as yet not been the type of ambulance - the Claims Clinic - parked up by Mallorcan all-inclusives as there has been in Tenerife. It may only be a matter of time, though, as in this year. Being in the midst of Alcudia all-inclusivana, I have observed what goes on, and have been given chapter and verse by tour operator reps as well. It's despicable, utterly despicable, as bad if not worse than the old scratch-card, time-share try-on and miles, miles worse than anything the lookies get up to.

There is a further major reason why all-inclusives (of a certain type) are targeted. That's because there is a vastly reduced likelihood that PFs who make claims will have eaten anything outside the hotel. Therefore, m'lud, I respectfully submit that the all-inclusive has to be responsible. Quite right, Mr. Claims Farmer, here's a three grand award for your client. From which a commission is taken.

Hoteliers, tour operators are seeking to fight back, informing prospective fraudsters that a false claim is a criminal offence in Spain. And so it is in the UK. Yet, UK courts seem duty bound to accept these frauds without smelling a rat. They will have been presented, as are tour operator reps here, with the same evidence time and time again. The same form, the same imodium.

In what other ways are they fighting back? Jet2 has its gastroenteritis questionnaire, which may well deter PFs who are too stupid to be able to fill it out. Another way is to stop doing business with the British. This may be an extreme solution, it may well not be possible, but it most certainly is being considered.

Mallorca's hoteliers know full well the businesses behind the scams. They also know about the enticements on social media. The only ones who don't seem to know are the UK's legal authorities. It's high time that they accepted their responsibilities for having permitted fraud on a grand scale and for eliminating the pikey fuckers.

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