Fast bucks at vacationers’ expense

Bad service and a general lack of professionalism along with inadequate infrastructure are just some of the woes that can spoil a holiday. Greek vacationers returning to work after the summer break had a number of complaints about the rapacity of tourism providers out to make an easy profit at their expense. Vicky and Antonis – a couple in their late 30s who returned from a holiday on the island of Skopelos – were full of complaints about outrageous prices for hiring boats. «Day rates are 55-85 euros, with a deposit of 40 euros for fuel. Worst of all, anyone can rent a boat, even if he or she has no license, and there are no life jackets on board,» said Vicky. Antonis was annoyed with port traffic police. «Port officials have absolutely no idea about how to coordinate the boarding and disembarkation of passenger ferries. We had to wait half an hour before we could drive off the ferry. As for accommodation, we were charged 150 euros a day for a double room up a rough, unpaved road on the mountainside. It seems they want to earn a year’s income within one month.» Nikos, a 35-year-old bank employee, was shocked at the price of car rental on the island of Santorini early in the season in June. «I paid 55 euros a day for a small car without any air conditioning. Moreover, the rental firm’s personnel were very rude,» he said. Costas, 42 and Despina, 33, spent three weeks touring Crete. «It’s a pity to leave a lovely town like Hania and then find the rest of the region built up for British tourists, to expect to see traditional tavernas but find instead bars serving spiked drinks. Palaiohora on the south side of the island has been turned into an nightclub mecca, just like Faliraki on the island of Rhodes,» said Costas. Despina said that traditional Cretan food is now only found in certain villages. The main towns serve what they call «tzatziki and muzak.» They were also outraged when in some hotels they stayed at the cleaners complained because they got up too late in the morning, and would knock on their door at 9 a.m. The Quality of Life Consumer Union (EKPOIZO) has received dozens of complaints over the past couple of months from tourists, mostly regarding delays and cancellations of shipping routes. Delayed flights and loss of luggage was another frequent problem. Many consumers complained about the price variations at ships’ cafes and airports, where there are supposed to be set prices for four kinds of coffee, for water, sandwiches and toasted sandwiches. Other complaints concerned package tours where the services provided were not those described; in some cases the hotel rooms were not even up to rudimentary standards. As for food, many consumers lodged complaints regarding a lack of professionalism, poor service, a lack of cleanliness and poor food quality. Another category of complaints had to do with accessibility to beaches that were now closed off by large hotels or even fenced off and restricted to the hotel’s patrons. «This year there were more complaints than last year. That does not necessarily mean that the standard is worse but perhaps only that people are more aware of their rights and what they can do about them,» said EKPOIZO’s representative Panayiota Kalapotharakou.