Greek tourism has had an excellent summer, save that on the islands which were the main targets for the refugee smugglers, the huge influx of refugees brought an early end to the season, as tourists stayed away in droves.
Traders on one of these islands decided to make good their losses by introducing a dual pricing.system – normal prices for the tourists and the locals and much higher prices for the refugees. The rip off was particularly aimed at the many wealthy Syrian refugees who arrived on the island armed with wads of 500 Euro notes.
Normally any Greek cafe owner will let you recharge your phone for free. Charge to the refugees ? 10 Euros. A small bottle of water – legal price 50 cents – refugee price 2 Euros. Some bread sir, certainly sir, that’s 1 euro per slice, sir.
And it did not end with the pricing rip off. When the bill came there was 2 Euro for the coffee which had neither been ordered, delivered nor drunk, plus a further 5 Euros for 2 glasses of some illegibly scrawled drinks which were similarly a fiction of the cafe owners imagination.
And the scam did not stop there because the receipts which were given to the refugees were handwritten ones from a tear off pad. That way the cafe or bar owner does not have to pay VAT and because the sales are not recorded through the till and the tax man does not get to know about them, not only does the owner keep the VAT on his non existent sales, it does not show in his turnover and profits, so he also escapes income tax. To be fair, cheating the Greek tax man is a traditional way of getting ones own back at corrupt politicians and is a time honoured Greek custom, so evading VAT and tax on the transaction can not be said to have been aimed at the refugees. That is just a bonus, a good little earner.
And how do I know all this. A friend on holiday on this particular island, so outraged by the way the refugees were being ripped off, posed as a refugee just to get some documentary evidence of what was happening, went to a cafe in the port, ordered little more than a starter, a small bottle of water and 2 slices of bread. An itemised handwritten receipt was issued for a total 25 Euros, including all the items which had not been ordered or supplied. I have seen the receipt.
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