Business, Economics and Jobs

Refunds for bad sex and other weird consular requests


Tourists walk in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on July 19, 2013.

Do you need someone to feed your dog while you're away this summer? Did you forget something at home and want it sent to you? How about your love life, would you like help with that?

If so, the Singaporean government has something to say to you: Don’t call us, and we sure as heck won't call you.

In a recent and unusual move, Singapore’s foreign minister took to Facebook to complain about some of the more bizarre requests for consular services made by his globetrotting countrymen.

Singaporeans made almost 7 million overseas trips last year, compared to the 3.6 million they made a decade ago, K. Shanmugam wrote. The country’s consulates handled more than 3,000 requests for assistance, some of them downright ridiculous.

“Many cases are genuine. But sometimes we do get odd requests,” an exasperated Shanmugam wrote.

“We have to draw the line between what is personal responsibility and what’s not.”


One of the oddest requests for consular services came from a Singaporean man who wanted the government to help him obtain a refund for unsatisfactory — not to mention illegal — sexual services he received overseas.

“We had to tell him that MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) could not help!” Shanmugam said.

A lovelorn Singaporean wanted the government to persuade his foreign girlfriend to expedite her divorce proceedings so he could marry her already.

“We want Singaporeans to marry and have children. But there are limits,” Shanmugam said.

This one is so silly it almost defies belief. A Singaporean man complained he had been the victim of discrimination at a KFC outlet after receiving a smaller piece of chicken than the locals in line. He asked the ministry to investigate the “unfair treatment.”

“We told him we could not do that,” Shanmugam said.

And a Singaporean forced to leave behind a kitchen appliance in a foreign country because he could not afford to pay for excess baggage asked the ministry to go and get it for him.

Er, no.

To be fair, it’s not just Singaporean travelers who make these weird requests. Australian, British and Canadian tourists are just as guilty. Here's the evidence. 


Some examples of “petty consular problems” reported to Australia’s Department of Foreign and Trade over the years include:

“Could DFAT feed my dogs while I’m away?”

“I haven’t heard from my friend for 3 years, I’m worried about him and I also want his motorcycle out of my garage.” 

Britain’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office in May 2013 published a list of the “more bizarre” requests for assistance it had received over the previous 12 months.

They included a man who asked consular staff in Rome to translate a phrase for a tattoo he wanted, and another man in Stockholm who wanted a background check on a woman he met online.


In 2011, then Canadian Foreign Minister Diane Ablonczy, clearly fed up with annoying requests for assistance, issued a statement reminding Canadians what “consular officials can and cannot do.”

“Consular Officials CANNOT: Ask your mother-in-law to leave your house; Purchase tickets for a musical or entertainment event; Settle disputes between you and your partner; Pick up your dog at the airport.”

OK but what about my mail? Could you grab my mail?