Hoteliers’ associations in Benidorm and Gran Canaria have complained about “clear abuse” by British law firms who approach holidaymakers promising “to get them their money back for their holidays” on a “no win, no fee” basis.
According to reports over the summer, mobile ‘help centres’ have appeared in areas popular with UK tourists that encourage them to make compensation claims for complaints such as sickness or poor quality.
European package holiday legislation makes tour operators responsible for compensating passengers if anything goes wrong on holiday, however these amounts are normally taken off the money paid to hoteliers as part of their contract.
Hotel owners say that not only are most of the claims “totally false”, but that the legal fees charged are vastly inflated.
Costa Blanca hoteliers’ association, Hostbec, reports that it’s “ very common” to come across cases where, for example, “the customer is compensated 500 pounds (590 euros), while lawyers’ fees of more than 5,000 pounds (5,900) are added on top for the same case”.
“And all these amounts are taken off the hotel’s money [by the tour operator] and the hotel can’t do anything about it,” added the association. The cases are processed in British courts, making it hard for the hotels to defend themselves.
They claim that there has been a big increase this year and one hotel alone has had 200 complaints made against it.
Hostbec has urged the British ambassador and Spanish foreign ministry to take the matter up with the UK government.
Hoteliers in the Canary Islands are also experiencing the same increase in guest-compensation claims. Local hotel bosses have met with national government representatives on the islands to seek a solution.
Reports said that lawyers have also been promoting the same services on the Costa del Sol.