The growing compensation culture, prevalent in the UK has spread – and evidence is emerging on a weekly basis of illicit practices occurring here in Benidorm. Spanish hotels are hitting back at so called ‘unscrupulous British lawyers’ for enticing holidaymakers to make claims against them, actively encouraging people to claim for anything ranging from thefts to food poisoning. They offer to act on their behalf on a ‘no win no fee’ arrangement - professing to win thousands of pounds in compensation. These so called reps, usually those in their early 20’s mingle with hotel guests around the pool, dressed in swimwear so as not to attract attention from hotel staff.
The Mail on Sunday has exposed one such firm “Sick by the Sea” today in an undercover sting, which took place at the Sol Pelicanos hotel in the Rincon – the fictitious Solana in the Benidorm series and very popular with the Brits.Many specifically booked to come to coincide with filming in the hope of catching some of the cast.
But this has been going on throughout the entire summer here and Antonio Mayor, President of HOSBEC has been vocal on the issue. He has stated that this practice is spiraling totally out of control, citing it as “immoral” and likened them – the reps and companies involved, to the peamen. He said that “up to five teams are working at a number of hotels, targeting British tourists who are here on package holidays”. They hand out leaflets around the poolside and give them tips, such as going to the chemist and buying diarrhoea treatment to use as “evidence” after a dodgy hotel buffet.
Cases are then taken up in the UK against the British tour operators, with the firms claiming substantial legal costs, sometimes ten times the amount of the original claim. These often-false claims are then deducted from the turnover of the hotels involved, which have no opportunity of mitigation.
The President of the Hoteliers Association is investigating how to protect his members against this growing action, which throughout 2015 saw no more than 15 claims yet this year is already in excess of 200. The bottom line is, it will be the holidaymakers who lose out in the long run as prices may have to rise as is the case with premiums following fraudulent motor insurance claims.There are even vehicles parked up outside hotels, actively advertising.
But rogue companies are spreading their wings and actively advertising for those that suffered flight delays to apply for compensation too. Many tout for business on holiday social media forums to encourage claims, offering their services in exchange for a percentage commission of the award. Under EU rule 261/2004, if you’re delayed by more than three hours or your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to compensation of between £110 and £540, which is possible to claim for free. However, once the UK leaves the EU this is likely to stop – but the delay must have been something within the airlines control and dependent on when the flight arrives and not when it takes off. Google ‘Flight delay compensation’ and page after page of companies come up, all willing to act on your behalf, but most will charge a minimum of 25 per cent of your compensation.
However, low-cost carrier Ryanair have already nipped it in the bud, stipulating in their Terms & Conditions that they will NOT entertain any third party claims, ie, representation from these type of companies.
Could claiming push up holidays and airfares? The answer is probably yes... it will be the holidaymakers who lose out in the long run as prices will have to rise as is the case with premiums following fraudulent motor insurance claims.