Yesterday’s post (Consumer Complaints in Tenerife – Don’t Waste Your Breath)  told the story of Nancy and John who were ripped off in a camera shop in Tenerife and then went on to describe the complete lack of care or assistance offered by the one place that ought to be every tourists’  first line of defence when abroad – the Tourist Office. If you haven’t read it yet, you might want to start at the beginning.

Many years ago my mother lost a good deal of money on a tourist scam in Thailand. While losing the money hurt, it didn’t hurt as much as the knowledge that there was very little she could do to get back at the scammers. That sense of  helplessness after being ripped off in a foreign country sticks in the throat for a very long time and taints otherwise happy holiday memories forever.

With that in mind, the arrogant and indifferent attitude of the girl I spoke to in the Tourist Office yesterday is inexcusable. Why spend millions of Euros on promoting Tenerife as an excellent tourist destination if tourists are not met with excellent services when they get here? Quite honestly all the five-star hotels and golf courses in the world won’t make Tenerife a world class destination if  holiday makers are stone-walled when they seek assistance once they’re here.

Having read yesterday’s post Pamela Heywood of Secret Tenerife kindly sent the following information which might help Nancy and John or anyone else who finds themself in a similar situation.

According to the Canarian government’s own website, there are still Oficinas Municipales de Informacion al Consumidor (Municipal Consumer Information Offices), which handle reclamations, at all the following addresses (including Arona.) There are email addresses listed too.
http://www.gobiernodecanarias.org/cicnt/temas/consumo/informa/tenerife.html

There’s some alternate info here: http://www.denuncias.info/oficina-consumidor-tenerife.html

PuntoInfo list those offices, plus consumers’ organisations and ombudsman:
http://www.todotenerife.es/index.php?sectionID=44&lang=1&s=6&ID=510

There’s information on the Servicio de Información y Atención Ciudadana here:
http://www.gobiernodecanarias.org/siac/

Consumers (of all nationalities) certainly do have rights, but sadly, this is not the first time I’ve heard a version of this story and I’m sure it’s a case of “if we tell them we can’t help them, they’ll go back to their country and forget about it,” which is just as bad for the Amable image.

Pamela also nudged me in the direction of the Consumer Affairs Division of the European Commission which led me to discover a couple of useful resources:

This is a website set up to address unfair trading practises across Europe. It is an interesting site and includes examples of misleading advertising and a black list of unfair commercial practices one of which is:  Traders who bait with one product and switch to promoting another. This is one of the ruses commonly used by cowboy camera salesmen in Tenerife.

Their remit is specifically to aid non-Spanish nationals who have had their consumer rights violated in Spain. In other words, if you are a Brit who was sold a pig in a poke in Tenerife – they are there to help you!

Specifically the European Consumer Centre in Spain exists to:

– advise consumers on their consumer rights

– act as mediators in cross-border complaints and claims

– provide informationn and promote EU and national legislation and case law

Now I have a question for the Tourist Office:

How hard would it be to gather this information and have it ready as a hand-out for those who have need of it because they were ripped off in Tenerife?

And lastly a pop quiz. Failure to give the correct answer should disqualify you from employment in any sector of the tourism industry.

What creature best describes the role tourists play in Tenerife’s economy?

a) Lambs to the slaughter,

b) Fish in a barrel or

c) The geese that lay the golden eggs?

Doh!