The best place to watch the footie – some of the bizarre requests from Brits abroad

by Ray Clancy on May 17, 2013

The best place to watch the footie – some of the bizarre requests from Brits abroad

The best place to watch the footie – some of the bizarre requests from Brits abroad

Silencing a noisy cockerel, supplying Olympic tickets and providing contact details for Sir Paul McCartney’s wife were among the most unusual requests to British consular staff aboard, it has been revealed.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which over the last 12 months has handled more than a million consular enquiries and supported 52,135 British nationals in difficulty abroad, said that while these type of enquires are often good natured they can take valuable time away from helping those in genuine distress. The stranger pleas for help have included a man who required hospital treatment in Cambodia when a monkey dislodged a stone that hit him. He demanded help getting compensation and wanted assurance that it would not happen again.

A man asked FCO staff in Rome to translate a phrase for a tattoo that he wanted and consular staff in Beijing were asked to help a woman who had bought a pair of football boots that were ‘Made in China’ but were poor quality. A woman requested that consular staff in Tel Aviv order her husband to get fit and eat healthily so that they could have children and consular staff in Kuala Lumpur were asked if the FCO could help pay to send their children to an International School.

Quote from ExpatForum.com : “FCO Update: Egyptian Armed Forces and Ministry of Interior have declared a state of ‘High Alert’ in Sinai on Saturday 9 March 2013, following reports that Jihadist groups might conduct terrorist attacks against the army and security forces in North and South Sinai.”

A man asked consular staff in Stockholm to check the credentials of a woman whom he had met online and a man asked the Consulate in Montreal for information to settle a £1,000 wager on the colour of the British passport. Common requests include where the best place to watch the football is and a number of British Consulates have been asked to book hotels.

‘FCO staff help many thousands of British nationals facing serious difficulties around the world every year. We also receive over a million enquiries each year, so it is important that people understand what we can and cannot do to support them when they are abroad,’ said Mark Simmonds, Minister for Consular Affairs. ‘We are not in a position to help people make travel arrangements or social plans, but we do help those who face real problems abroad. These can include victims of crime, bereaved families who have lost a loved one abroad or Britons who have been arrested or detained. We aim to continue to focus on supporting those who really need our help in the coming year,’ he added.

The FCO set up a contact centre in Malaga in February 2011 to handle the volume of non-consular enquiries received by British Embassies and Consulates in Southern Europe. Since its launch staff have handled 131,211 calls, 39% of which have been lifestyle enquiries. ‘Our aim is to help staff at posts concentrate on what is important but some of the enquiries we received from British nationals last year were bizarre to say the least. For example, one customer contacted us to ask if we could provide the name of the watch that the Royal Navy sailors wore between the years 1942 and 1955,’ said Steve Jones, head of the Contact Centre.

‘While we couldn’t help with the watch information, FCO consular staff in Southern Europe were able to provide assistance to a single mother of three young children who was suddenly hospitalised after a bout of sickness, and we also helped a family of four injured in a road traffic accident,’ he added.

Recent research shows that 78% of people wrongly think the FCO could get them out of jail if arrested, and nearly half of 16 to 24 year olds do not know what an Embassy or Consulate does. The FCO can issue replacement travel documents, provide information about transferring money, provide help for victims of rape, sexual or physical assault and crime, and help people who are ill or in hospital. They can also provide a list of local lawyers, interpreters, doctors or funeral directors and contact you if you are detained abroad. Staff cannot help you enter a country if you do not have a valid passport or necessary visas, give legal advice or translate documents, investigate crimes or get you out of prison, pay any bills or give you money or make travel arrangements.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

ExpatJoe May 21, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Do you not know — We are British subjects!

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