As the saying goes, you give people an inch and they usually take a mile. An example I’m sure you’re all familiar with: offering one person a piece of gum, but then everyone and their mom see your generosity and come out of the shadows asking for a piece. The saying doesn’t just apply to the classroom or the office, though.
A couple who demanded thousands in compensation after they suffered food poisoning on holiday were caught after posting poolside selfies online. Chelsea Devine, 21, and Jamie Melling, 22, from Liverpool in the UK, claimed they were ill for weeks after eating and drinking during their ten-day, all-inclusive trip to Benidorm in Spain.
They had thought they got away with their gambit, but a judge found them “fundamentally dishonest’ and ordered them to pay holiday operator Tui £15,000 ($21,018.75) – a record amount for costs awarded against a fraudulent claim of holiday sickness.
Liverpool County Court heard how the pair were caught out after posting photos of their holiday at the Levante Beach Apartments in September 2015 on Facebook. The pictures showed them smiling and happy in their room and swimming in the pool, but then two years ago in May 2016, they submitted identical claims, each demanding £2,500 ($3,510) in compensation.
This is a big thing in the UK – claims for holiday sickness compensation, that is. Claims have skyrocketed in the past couple of years due to the government clamping down on fraudulent accident whiplash claims. There have been widespread fears that payouts for fake holiday bug claims will increase prices for honest tourists. Turns out, a lot of people want money for nothing.
The judge said: “I find that they have not proved that they were ill. I cannot accept that they would upload photographs of themselves as a happy couple if the holiday was as they claim. The statements are identical. They say that they did not collude, but it is clear the statements were not written by them. There are inaccuracies in them.”
She continues: “They did not complain [at the time] despite it being easy to do so. They did not complain when they came home. Have the claimants proved that they were ill? I do not accept that they did not raise the fact of their alleged illness with the hotel because they were young and inexperienced. They were young, but they were in contact with their parents, who apparently gave them no advice. I find that there is no reason why they did not complain.”
The judge ended her statement by saying: “I do not attribute any illness to the unsatisfactory food. There is no evidence of contamination. I accept the evidence of the hotel, and there is no evidence of any outbreak.” The couple has been ordered to pay the money by the end of this week.
The travel organizers say they are disappointed they’ve had to go to these lengths to defend their industry and hotel partners, but feel it’s something they’ve had to do. I can imagine a lot of people may think again before pulling a sickie.