Fake claims are in the news lately.
Food poisoning, mostly.
Massive demands that backfire as travel firms put up a fight. Big penalties too.
£25K for a woman in Wales.
An upcoming dispute already topping £52K for a family in Liverpool.
Not the holiday bonanza anyone was hoping for. And bad for all of us, fake claims like these are on the rise.
Yeah well, with in-your-face “ambulance-chasers” tempting us to make get-rich-quick claims right there on our sun-loungers, we ought to expect hotels and travel companies to play hardball.
Sure, being ill on holiday is the pits and feels like the end of the world. But if it’s really genuine and LOOKS LIKE IT, as long as we get medical help and advise our accommodation people immediately, there should be no problem.
Fake claim, false blame
It is after all, not easy to fake high temperature, body sweats, continuous vomiting and diarrhoea.
That said though, there’s still the awkward reality that it’s most likely our own fault.
Because food poisoning is basically all about contamination. We ingest germs with whatever we eat, our bodies react, we get sick.
And our own hands – which go everywhere and do everything – are the most contaminated of all.
Not that we want to accept that.
When food poisoning strikes, we usually blame (or our solicitors do):
- Kitchen staff not washing THEIR hands in preparing food
- Dirty kitchen utensils
- Mix-ups of raw and cooked meat
- Food prepared in a dirty environment
- Hazardous chemicals (like cleaning agents) contaminating food
Hygiene from hell
But we’re not so goody-goody ourselves. Even when we’re at home, our hygiene record is scary.
- 62% of men and 40% of women NEVER wash their hands after going to the toilet.
- 95% of people don’t even wash their hands properly.
- Only 12% of people wash their hands before eating.
On holiday, it’s even worse.
Because, think about it – we’re out and about, doing stuff. Who wants to stop and wash hands?
On the go all the time, we’re trying to maximise our experience. In a few days, we’ll have to fly home again.
So we’re up at sparrow’s tweet and never let up. Rushing here, cruising there – no chance to even think of washing hands. And often with nowhere to do so, even if we wanted to.
So whatever it is, lunch or dinner, there’s often a whole day in front of sitting down at table. And our hands have touched everything imaginable on the way.
Down the hatch – oooh!
And guess what?
Few of us are in the 12% of hand washers, so we just sit there and scoff.
And because it’s holiday, odds are likely that we’re eating straight with our hands.
Burgers, pizza, wraps, sandwiches, fish and chips, kebabs, ice creams – they’re all feelgood holiday favourites we can’t get enough of.
So it’s down the hatch and licking our fingers, with nary a thought about clean anything – unless our hands are VISIBLY dirty. Fake confidence.
Four hours later – ooh, I don’t feel so good.
Now whatever it is kicks in and ruins the holiday.
Norovirus, salmonella, campylobacter, e.coli, c.difficile – they all give us the runs and have us spewing our guts out.
But don’t worry. That nice man at the poolside said just get a chemist’s receipt for Imodium and you can claim it all back – EasyJet, care hire, the hotel, everything.
One finger pointing, three others pointing back.
For a hotel or restaurant to fall down on hygiene is bad news – even in darkest Peru.
There’s reputation at stake, a licence to lose, a whole livelihood to go down the tubes.
Which means sure, slip-ups happen. But they’re not the norm.
Unless we’ve lucked onto a place teeming with cockroaches and unlikely to pass ANY inspection short of a shutdown, it’s usually our own fault.
Which is dumb when you think about it, because it’s the easiest thing in the world to carry antibacterial wipes or gel. In our handbag or pocket, it goes where we go – our hands can always be safe from germs.
Plus before we start pointing fingers, most food places are pretty strict about their own standards of hygiene. Tourists bring money, so you can bet everything that can be cleaned will be. Wiped down with bleach, swept, polished and vacuumed within an inch of its life.
In some places, even clobbered with hydrogen peroxide mist to take out ALL the germs. No chance we can fake our way out of that.
Walk in there and the whole place is sterilised. Any hint of food poisoning and they’d probably string us up.
OK, we’re getting itchy feet. Already packed for next week. Passports and boarding passes at the ready.
Got the hand wipes and the gel?
No need to fake anything, just have a good time.