TIME TO STOP THE BLACKMAIL

Now our train driver’s unions have won a 30% wage increase for their poverty-stricken members after a year of holding travellers to ransom and damaging lives to fill their pockets it will be interesting to see what happens next. Emboldened by the sentiments of J. Corbyn who, completely understandably, says his paymasters should have more power will they now hold more successful strikes for another 30%, or 50%, or 100%?

Of course, our country being members of the EU and beholden to EU law has helped our unions build their power and it is no secret that they are very keen to see this continue.

Which is probably another good reason for anyone who feels that the unions have too much power to back the Brexit. For once we are able to make our own laws again some serious democratic consideration can be given to whether we can all afford to allow the above rot to continue.

Then let joy be unconfined…

HOLIDAY FRAUDSTERS JAILED

A couple from Liverpool are the first to be jailed for making false claims of food poisoning on their holidays.

Paul Roberts, 43, and his partner Deborah Briton,53, sobbed in the dock as they were jailed for fifteen months and nine months respectively for claiming that two consecutive two week holidays to Majorca in 2015 and 2016, staying at the same hotel, had been ruined by severe gastric illness and suffering from “diarrhoea, stomach cramps, lethargy, fever and nausea”. This was despite posting on social media that they had enjoyed “sun, laughter and fun”.

The action was brought by Thomas Cook, who the couple were claiming nearly £20,000 from Holiday sickness claims have increased by 500% – 700% and bogus claims are thought to cost the travel industry £240 million. The frauds are fuelled by touts working for a fee from the solicitors bringing the cases.

ICELANDIC FAKE

A bad time, we see, for Skuli Mogensen, founder and CEO of Icelandic carrier Wow Air.

Morgensen’s firm, stupidly, blitzed the press with a silly lie about a £99 fare from London Stansted to New York, nonsense that was nevertheless picked up and publicised unquestioningly by such quality organs as the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Mirror, the Sun and Hello magazine. Fortunately one sensible journalist, Simon Calder, checked out the scam on behalf of readers of the Independent and its i paper and reported that the £99 fare did not exist, and that the best Mr Morgensen could offer was a one way fare of £170 or a round trip for £251, both entailing first flying to Keflavik airport in Iceland rather than non-stop.

Morgensen’s efforts at misleading, opined Calder, proved the fake news principle that “a fib can travel halfway around the globe while the truth is putting on its boots” So mind who you believe.

VENETIAN SCAM

Visitors to Venice have been advised not to trust some of its restaurateurs after a group of three British tourists were charged £154 each for a lunch that included expensive dishes that they did not order.

Reportedly these extras, charged at the Trattoria Cassonova off St Mark’s Square, included a plate of 20 oysters for £96 and a mixed fried fish dish, including lobster, for £261.50. Sadly university lecturer Luke Tang, who was treating his elderly parents did not send the unordered items back, even after he had got no response from the waiters to a request for the price.

Mr Tang paid the bill and wrote afterwards to Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro explaining that he felt “blackmailed” by the restaurant, and to warn others to stay away. Brugnaro’s response, to call the tourists “cheapskates” on Venetian television and berating them for not leaving a tip, can only lead to the conclusion that eating in Venice is not a good idea. This is a pity as in the writer’s experience there are some culinary bargains to be had there, though you probably need to avoid the tourist traps around the St Mark’s Square area, and taking any advice from the mayor.

Our best advice? The unordered dishes scam is alive and well in many other places, with a large number of restaurants in the Ile Sacre eating area of Brussels coming top of the Euro rip-off list. However in London, at a newly opened Chinese eaterie in Gerrard Street, the writer was brought an unordered and expensive duck dish, on the basis that the waiter “just thought you would like it” We sent it straight back untouched. Go and do likewise, and let us know if, and where, it happens to you.

DRAM SHAM

A bottle of what was purported to be a very rare single malt whisky has been found to be a fake.

The bottle of The Macallan, supposedly dating from 1878, had been kept unopened at the whisky bar of the Waldhaus Am See hotel in St Moritza, Switzerland for 25 years. Earlier this year Chinese millionaire Zhang Wei paid £7,600 for the bottle to be opened and for a measure to taste, which he did with the hotel’s manager, Sandro Bernasconi.. According to Mr Zhang, 36, he enjoyed both the good taste and the sense of drinking some 139 year old history.

Sadly when experts investigated the bottle they found it was a fake, being a blend of malt and grain whiskies bottled in the 1970’s. Had the bottle been genuine it would have been worth around £227,000, or around £8,000 a measure.

Since the whisky was proved to be a worthless fake Bernasconi flew to China to give Mr Zhang his money back.

RULE BRITANNIA?

Hotel group Britannia have been voted the nation’s worst for the fifth year running in the annual consumer survey carried out by Which? magazine.

The survey was split into large chains of 31 hotels or more worldwide and small/medium chains of 30 or less worldwide and was collated from the views of 4,000 consumers. It gave Britannia two stars out of five in all categories, including bed comfort, cleanliness, customer service and value for money. The group has 61 hotels, with an average charge of £78 per night, and scored 33% in the survey.

Top scorers in the large chains section were Premier Inn (1350 hotels) with 79% while Ibis Budget (53) came second with 71% and McDonald Hotels (132), Radisson Blu (140) and Crowne Plaza (109) coming joint third at 70% The rest of the scores were:- Continue reading

Charity Matters Oct/Nov 2017 ISSUE 75

EXPOSING SLAVERY In conjunction with the government’s anti-slavery units the London Evening Standard has issued readers with key signs for the public to look…

MORE PRISON FOR ANIMAL CRUELTY OFFENCES The RSPCA has welcomed the government announcement that the current maximum term of six months in prison …

CARE CRISIS Charities concerned with the care of the elderly have warned of the frightening extent of the crisis in the care home sector. A report by the Care Quality …

ONLINE PORNOGRAPHY BLAMED Charities have blamed the easy availability of online pornography for the revelations that child on child sexual assaults have …

MORE ON KID’S COMPANY “Unethical journalists” who conspired against her and “politicians who don’t know what is happening on the street” have been blamed for …

BAG BAN Charity collection bags posted through householder’s letterboxes are now banned, if the householder displays a sign advising charities the bags are unwanted…

A CHARITABLE CHANCELLOR? Chancellor Philip Hammond could face questions over his moral integrity after he shelved a review of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals …

EXPOSING SLAVERY

In conjunction with the government’s anti-slavery units the London Evening Standard has issued readers with key signs for the public to look for which could indicate enslavement. In particular the Met police’s Modern Slavery and Kidnap Unit and the government’s Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority are currently investigating hand car washes in London where slavery is considered especially likely.

  • Is someone always watching the staff?
  • Do staff have injuries that indicate assault?
  • Do staff seem frightened and/or unwilling to make eye contact?
  • Do staff always wear the same old clothes?
  • Are staff wearing gloves to protect their hands from chemicals?
  • Do staff look starving or neglected? Are the car washes offered for £5 or less?

At four hand car washes in East London staff told officials of sleeping four to a room and working 12-hour days for £3 an hour. Other premises likely to house slaves are nail bars. Continue reading

MORE PRISON FOR ANIMAL CRUELTY OFFENCES

The RSPCA has welcomed the government announcement that the current maximum term of six months in prison for cruelty to animals is to be increased to five years.

The six month maximum was set in 1911, more than 100 years ago, by the Protection of Animals Act, and is one of the lowest in Europe. Studies by the Centre for Crime Prevention (CCP) show that custodial sentences are, in any case rarely imposed in animal cruelty cases, in just one in every thirteen cases since 2005.Many of these were handed suspended sentences. One in four of convicted offenders was simply handed a fine, with an average of less than £300. Continue reading

CARE CRISIS

Charities concerned with the care of the elderly have warned of the frightening extent of the crisis in the care home sector.

A report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) shows that they launched 1,512 enforcement actions against care homes and home helps in 2016/17 – nearly 70% up on the previous 12 months. The actions dealt with concerns about safety, lack of dignity in the treatment of residents by staff, poor staffing levels, lack of food or water and actual abuse of residents. More than 100 operators were struck off the CQC register, forcing them, to close down. Continue reading