Friday, October 12, 2007

Holiday scams...

The Office of Fair Trading is handing out scratchcards at UK airports to innocent (read stupid) tourists en route to Spain who may unwittingly and through a lack of brain action find themselves handing over several thousand of their pounds to purchase a hyperlink to sites such as

Of course we all know that you don't need to pay anything to find a link to on t'interweb, but there is something about the Spanish air that makes British holidaymakers leave their brains on the hotel bedroom floor when they venture out onto the streets of Malaga, Torremolinas and Benidorm.

The latest scam, which is estimated to rake in £1billion per year is the old scratchcard routine, yes we know, the one where a street urchin gives you a "prize" scratchcard as you're walking past him/her on the street, you scratch the silver foil off the card knowing full well that its a winner, you know before you start scratching that its a winner, you're not that stupid, so you scratch and scratch and guess what - you're a winner.

And you know its a scam and you know that you will never win one of the big prizes and you know that the biro or the bottle opener on the list is your prize and yet you still go out of your way to walk to the "office" where this "company" is "trading" from and even though you definitely don't want to buy a holiday discount club you sit there for three hours while a series of interrogators question your sanity in not wanting to purchase such a bargain until, just to get out of the place, you sign a credit card slip and bingo, you are now a member of an exclusive holiday purchasing club that is "guaranteed" to save you "thousands" off your holidays for the next umpteen years.

Sounds alright you tell yourself, sounds ok because you see although its just cost me three thousand pounds to join this club I can save that amount in discounts over the next few years, being a member of this exclusive holiday purchasing club and all, and you keep telling youself this all the way through your holiday and you finally convince yourself that you did a good bit of business there, my will your wife be pleased when she sees the credit card statement next month and you explain how clever you've been.

And when you get home you type in the link to the exclusive holiday discount club that the nice man in Malaga signed you up to - and you find that you've just logged on to

No, it didn't happen to me.

But I used to see it happen all the time when my dad lived the last seven years of his life in Benidorm.

You couldn't walk more than ten yards on the streets of Benidorm without being approached by one scammer or another, the "holiday club" was the biggest earner although the scammers hadn't yet refined the practice so that they sold you something that didn't cost them anything, no, what they were selling you was a timeshare in a building that may or may not exist yet, a week in the year when you didn't normally go on holiday, that you'd never use because the kids were at school at that time, that you'd never be able to sell in the cold light of day back home because people just aren't as stupid as you were when you bought it on holiday, a timeshare that would cost you tens of thousands in "service charges" over the years and a timeshare that was in a shit apartment block in a shit part of the town anyway - if it ever existed in the first place.

But the biggest and most blatent and most profitable scam was the pea-under-the-shell-men, "dont ever go anywhere near the pea-under-the-shell-men" my dad would warn us, "for they are conning bastard gypo's" he'd add in his glorious elder generation non-PC way.

Its the oldest scam in the word - conning bastard gypo has a small folding table (or even just a wooden box if they're watching the overheads) upon which he places three half walnut shells, after attracting your greed he places a pea underneath one of the shells, mixes them up with a theatrical flourish and then invites you to point to the one with the pea underneath for the small fee of just a few hundred pesetas, and you get the first one right and he grins a golden toothed grin and while you wonder how a conning bastard gypo like him can afford gold teeth and something at the back of your mind tells you that its you that will be paying for his next gold tooth, he gives you some money back, tells you that "you are very lucky man" and invites you to play again for some more hundred pesetas.

And five minutes later the grinning gold toothed conning bastard gypo has surrounded you with his grinning gold toothed conning bastard gypo mates and you have no more of your holiday pesatas in your wallet and you're asking him if he takes credit cards when one of his gold toothed conning bastard gypo mates shouts something that sounds remarkably like "polize" but in Spanish, so thats "police" then, and they run like the wind leaving you with your trouser pockets turned inside out and your wife standing at the other side of the street with that "you are a dope and I am going to give you so much hell for the rest of this holiday that you'll wish you had married that Tracy Braithwaite instead , even with her gammy arm and bad teeth".

And the amazing thing is that although we all know the story, although we all walk past the gold toothed conning bastard gypo's and their tables of walnuts shells on the promenade, and we all know its a scam, the gold toothed conning bastard gypos only have to wait a few doazen seconds before some other dolt walks past and thinks that he knows how the scam works and a few hundred pesetas is worth the challenge.

And so the Office of Fair Trading stand in our airports today handing out dummy scratch cards that when unscratched reveal the words "you have won a trip to a lengthy sales presentation and a chance to pay thousands of pounds for membership to a bogus holiday club" and still they will get puzzled and brain-dead holidaymakers returning to them asking where do they go to claim their biro and bottle opener prizes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Anything for POTW ?