An Icelandic tour company told a British customer she wasn’t eligible for one of its holidays because of the UK’s decision to exit the EU.
In what the company's CEO now describes as a Brexit joke gone disastrously wrong, Jenny Skates was left unimpressed by the response she received to an enquiry on the Trollaferdir website.
Using the site's messenger service, she asked about potential tours the company runs to visit an abandoned plane on the south coast of the island.
After being asked whether she needed any help, Skates wrote: “Just browsing really. Do you have any tours that go to the abandoned plane?”
A minute later, "Ingo" joined the conversation; a quick look at the Trollaferdir site suggests he is Ingólfur Axelsson, the CEO of the company.
He responded: “We actually do, but it's reserved for members of the European Union.
“We hear you are exiting. So tough luck.”
Completely taken aback by this response, Skates replied: “Technically not left yet.” She then left the chat open, but received no further answer.
Speaking to The Independent, Skates explained she didn't think the comment could be serious, and waited online for the punchline.
“I thought it might be a joke about not allowing UK people on the tours, but I kept the page open an hour and they didn't respond to my final message,” she said. “Then after approximately half an hour, I disliked the conversation, and still they didn't say anything.
“I just found it all a bit weird if we were prepared to pay £200 plus for the tours then why would they not try and sell it?”
The Independent used the messenger service to enquire about the same tour, and investigate whether Trollaferdir are telling everyone that certain packages are off-limits to Britons. After asking whether it was possible to book the experience as a UK citizen, there was no response from the company for 40 minutes.
Ingó then logged on to explain, saying: "Hi, please note we tried some sort of Brexit joke that misfired."
Speaking at length to The Independent, Ingó said he would have replied to explain the joke, but that his phone ran out of battery
"This is actually a very sad case because in short this was a 'bad joke' in combination with a cell phone running out of battery. These things happen millions of times every day but this time it came out particularly badly, which we are sorry about. We have taken measures to inform this person that this is a misunderstanding and offered everything in our power to prove that this was just a bad joke that should never have been started.
"I was the one answering the messages that evening. On my cell phone I received a message asking, 'Do you do tours to the Death Star,' and I honestly thought that someone was making fun so I casually answered seeing that the supposed joker was from the UK, 'We only offer tours to space for members of the EU.'
"We try to be fun and vibrant and witty but sometimes we obviously fail."
He added: "I understand that Britain and leaving the EU is a hot topic in your country. But we are actually not political and honestly would never discriminate against any person or country."
The company has been in touch with Skates since the episode, and she says she is happy that no discrimination was ever intended and the situation has been resolved to her satisfaction.
Skates enquired about the South Coast Elements itinerary, which takes in a glacier, a waterfall, a lava cave and an abandoned plane wreck. The tour is available on the Trollaferdir website from 19.800 ISK (£150) for a 14-hour excursion.
Iceland announced in March it was considering a tourist tax to alleviate some of the pressure from ever-increasing visitor numbers, which have grown from from 490,000 in 2010 to an estimated 2.3 million this year.
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