The British used to be well known across the world for Shakespeare, Princess Diana and cricket. We like to be known for our infamous ‘stiff upper lips’, sense of fair play, tolerance and justice. Many, mostly older people, still like to revel in the days of Empire and the ‘enlightenment’ that it brought to the world, whilst conveniently forgetting the evils of slavery, repression and imposition of alien values upon people across the world. No doubt, we all have an image of what Britain and its people stand for, although younger members of society are developing rapidly different views, which is very welcome in a fast moving, modern world.
In the years that I have been living as an expat in Spain and the Canary Islands, I have come to a view, which many will regard as unreasonable and non-liberal, that British citizens should first pass an intelligence test and secondly a test in basic good manners before they are granted a British passport. Many expats like myself, and the majority of British holidaymakers, are appalled by the attitudes and behaviour of a small minority of British holidaymakers.
Over the years, we have become familiar with the chancers who claim to have had valuable items ‘stolen’ on holiday and attempt to claim the proceeds from their insurance company. It doesn't take a genius to work out that a family heading for one of the cheapest holidays in Benidorm is unlikely to own a top-quality Rolex watch, the latest iPhone, diamond bracelet and expensive camera for each member of the family. Fortunately, the Spanish police are now much more rigorous in investigating such claims, and offenders are likely to be arrested and prosecuted for fraud. In addition, insurance companies are now much wiser to such scams, sharing databases of claims and identifying potential fraud. Despite this, we still regularly hear of such claims, although most are refused and the perpetrators prosecuted for fraud.
As many will have read in recent weeks, the latest British scam, and I stress that so far it is only the British who are involved, is false claims for food poisoning against hotels in Spain and the Canary Islands, even though the holidaymakers have not been genuinely ill. There are ‘legal companies’ in the UK, who are now presumably at a loose end following the completion of banking PPI compensation claims, and are now encouraging holidaymakers to claim for food poisoning. Many claimants have received large sums of compensation from innocent Spanish hotels, because the hotels cannot afford the high costs of challenging such claims in the British courts, and have simply paid up without a challenge.
These ‘legal companies’ have been offering ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements to hundreds of British holidaymakers, costing Spanish hotels around 60 million euros, which is a situation that clearly cannot continue. Spanish hoteliers and the Spanish Government are now fighting back and all future claims will have to be heard in Spanish courts. Some hotels are now refusing to accept British guests, and those that are accepted are being carefully monitored, with the introduction of signed disclaimers, and in ‘all inclusive’ hotels, the quantity of food and drinks consumed during the supposed period of illness is being recorded. In addition, ringleaders will be identified and prosecuted.
It was good to read this week that two British people were arrested by the Guardia Civil in Mallorca for trying to persuade tourists to make fraudulent claims whilst staying in the resort of Alcudia. The couple were acting for a so-called legal company in the UK that is sending representatives to Spanish resorts to drum up more business, as they are clearly making massive profits. The main regions affected by these fraudulent claims are the Canary Islands, Costa Blanca, Benidorm, Mallorca and the Costa del Sol.
Probably, my suggestion for a test of intelligence and basic good manners before being granted a British passport should be regarded as ‘tongue in cheek’, but it is worrying that a small minority of our fellow citizens are behaving in a manner that eventually has a negative impact upon all. I suspect that if the question is currently asked about what the British are known for, it will no longer be Shakespeare, Princess Diana and cricket.
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Barrie’s websites: http://barriemahoney.com and http://thecanaryislander.com or read his latest book, ‘Footprints in the Sand’ (ISBN: 9780995602717). Available in paperback, as well as Kindle editions.
© Barrie Mahoney