UK embassies: We can't help you buy shoes

Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 02:23 am
From an announcement from the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) webside
[...]Consulates within the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s global network of 261 embassies, High Commissions and other diplomatic posts help British travellers to stay safe abroad and provide support if something goes wrong.

However, it appears some Brits need reminding about the FCO’s role, with staff regularly being asked to help find lost sunglasses and pay bills.

Juliet Maric, British Consul, Alicante, Spain said:

'If you have a serious problem abroad " maybe you’ve been involved in an accident, have lost your passport or are a victim of crime, we can help you. But we can’t tell you who is allowed to use your swimming pool, pay your taxi fares for you " or do anything about the exchange rate. We regularly get enquiries from people who think we’re a one-stop-shop for any problem they might encounter while abroad; this can be frustrating as we need to focus resources on the serious cases that we’re there to help with.'

Chris Bryant, Minister for Consular Affairs, said:

'Our embassies are not there to provide weather reports or give advice on unruly children. Consular Staff are there to help Britons in real difficulty abroad " from victims of crime and bereaved families to those involved in accidents or who have lost their passports. It’s important that British nationals understand what the FCO can and can’t do for them so our staff can focus resources on more serious situations where people really do need our help.'

Other enquiries to the FCO from British travellers include:

- A lady unhappy with the size of her newly enlarged breasts following surgery asked the embassy if they could help
- A mum asked the consulate in Florida to help her teenage son pack his suitcase and give him a lift to the airport as he was feeling under the weather
- A man asked the High Commission in Zambia if they could phone his office to explain he wouldn’t be able to return to work as he was unable to get on a flight
- A holidaymaker visiting Italy asked the embassy where they could purchase a particular brand of shoes

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