Fears over avalanche of more false food poisoning claims
Chemists in some parts of Spain are being asked NOT to sell tummy upset remedies to British holidaymakers as bogus food poisoning claims soar through the roof.
The scam, involving thousands of pounds worth of compensation PER customer, is now sweeping across all parts of Spain, including the Costa Sol, Dorada and Blanca.
One furious hotel owner has revealed a 5,000 pound pay-out for EACH of five members of the same family for alleged gastroenteritis after eating in its restaurant during their holiday.
“It’s a scandal. Just sa-ying that they have become ill is worth it for them, ” said the hotelier from Salou. “Strangely, they were the only ones who got sick despite the fact that the hotel was practi-cally full.”
In a bid to curb the claims, hoteliers in Benidorm have already asked chemists not to sell any sort of tummy upset cures to Brits unless they have a prescription.
As the law stands at the moment, only a receipt for a gastroenteritis product is necessary in order to file a claim once the holidaymakers are back in the UK. The local hotel association wants to force anyone allegedly sick to go to the doctor which, it is hoped, will be a deterrent as this will cost them money or a claim on their insurance.
Representatives of British law firms, criticised as “unscrupulous”, have been touring holiday hotspots to encourage people to make a bogus claim. They are being seen on the beaches, streets and in front of hotels, as well as touring resorts with their special claim vans.
In some areas, false food poisining claims are said to have soared by as much as 700 per cent from last year and with the summer season now looming, there are fears of another epidemic.
Benidorm is one of the British favourites most affected by the scam with around 10,000 claims so far. The problem has also been encountered in the Canary Islands.
The Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodation (Cehat) is pressurising the government of the United Kingdom to take action.
A meeting recently took place between members of this group, tour operators and representatives of the British Embassy in Spain “to deal with the issue of abuse and so we can defend ourselves against defamation and false testi-mony.”
Hoteliers say the vast majority of the claims are false but it is easier for them to pay out rather than to fight the case in the courts.
The Spanish hotel industry is estimating the cost to them at “millions of euros”.
“In many cases, they do not even present official medical evidence of the supposed illnesses caught in the hotels,” said a spokesman. “They only report that they have become ill from some food poisoning and ask for compensation.”
Hotel owners on the Costa Dorada say they feel “totally defenceless”.
It is also being reported that the representatives of the so-called “vulture lawyers” are searching social network sites to find pictures of people who have been on holiday in Spain and are approaching them direct to make claims.
The method used is to give standard forms to holiday-makers, saying they caught a tummy bug from their hotel. The average payout is around 6,000 euros.
In some areas, police are being called in because the law firm representatives do not have licences to “sell” on the street or are harrassing holidaymakers.
Would-be claimants are also being warned that hotels are tightening up their controls and monitoring all activity.
“We want to remind all customers who file a false claim that it can be pursued as an attempt to swindle and that each hotel records the activity carried out by customers and their con-sumption of food and beverages ,” said a spokesman for the Benidorm hotel association HOSBEC.