Some of you may know that we changed the British Embassy websites because it was giving false information on bringing back cigarettes from Bulgaria. lt stated that there was a restriction of 200 cigarettes ... except the restriction was lifted on 1st Jan 2010. Bulgarian Customs were using this information (printing the web page) to confiscate cigarettes etc off UK citizens. l mean, it's very hard to argue with a Bulgarian Customs officer who holds something in his hand from your own Embassy that states you are over the limit. Most UK citizens would think that they themselves were wrong and simply give up their goods as almost all have done (l didn't). Also you can't afford to argue indefintely ... your plane is due to fly!(l let it fly). Some of you will recognise this tactic ... UK Customs use it on coach trips in Calais. You either argue with Customs and your coach leaves without you or you leave your goods and get the coach.
Anyway, l digress. So with a lot of complaints and visits we eventually got the UK Embassy website changed and Sofia Airport changed (signs saying only 200 cigarettes for UK taken down) and Bulgarian Customs told by their Vice Director to abide by EU regulations. A result!
Well almost, because it turns out that the UK Embassy websites decided not to update travel advice about Latvia. FFS, how easy can it be to do it right? There's only 5 countries that had these restrictions and all 5 had them removed 1/1/2010. So another letter .... this time to UK Embassy in Riga, Latvia
Dear Sir or Madam,
l am at a loss for words at the incompetence of whoever is in charge of the travel advice. l recently had problems at Sofia Airport in Bulgaria because of this. FCO travel advice stated there was a restriction of 200 cigarettes if brought back from Bulgaria. Through no small part of my own l got the travel advice updated to what it should be ... no restrictions from 1st Jan 2010.
Unfortunately, Latvia is still listed on your website as having restrictions on tobacco and alcohol purchases for bringing back to UK despite all restrictions being lifted 1/1/2010.
How can this be? Doesn't anyone at your Embassy check the website for accuracy? These restrictions being lifted are important to UK travellers. They depend on you, in fact trust you to have the correct information .... not some information that is almost 6 months out of date! Bulgarian Customs were using this same false information to confiscate goods off UK citizens ... are Latvian Customs doing the same?
Maybe l'm wrong and it is not incompetence at all. l've seen so much false information (regarding personal EU imports of alcohol and tobacco) recently from British Embassy websites incl phone in travel advice, to UK Customs putting out false information with out of date leaflets and signs ... that l begin to wonder if it is not, in fact, intentional. The goal being to reduce legal imports of cheaper tobacco and alcohol bought in the EU by UK citizens into the UK? ... or are you going to fall back on incompetence as an excuse?
Either way ... you've totally let down UK citizens trust in you and in some cases, like Bulgaria, have been complicit (knowingly or not) in having UK citizens robbed of their legally bought goods.
Yours, blah blah
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