Beware of Bogus Travel Agencies/Immigration Agencies

15/04/2016 09:22

Bogus and dubious travel agencies/immigration agencies remains under the Council’s radar as unsuspecting consumers are continually being cheated of their hard earned cash.  

These consumers are vulnerable as migration is seen as stepping stone to “greener pastures” and of course the travel agencies/immigration agencies are aware of this and easily trap such consumers by making false promises without rendering the services.

The Council has noticed that people without a job tend to establish a travel agencies/immigration agency without the knowledge of immigration laws. The travel agencies/immigration agencies have no fear of being penalized for taking money and not delivering the services. There’s simply a lack of legislation or a regulatory institutions in place to penalize and curb such fraudulent activities conducted by travel agencies/immigration agencies.   

Never the less, consumers are advised to tread with caution when approaching travel agencies/immigration agencies. As travel agencies/immigration agencies may appear to be an easy and hassle free option of lodging an application for a visa, as the agent will do all the running around on behalf of a consumer.

Most travel agencies/immigration agencies are “smooth talkers” and the deals they offer seems too good to be true. So consumers find it imperative to engage the services of such travel agencies/immigration agencies. 

The Council has received 98 complaints from 2008 to date against travel agencies/immigration agencies and tirelessly continues to remind consumers to be cautions when approaching travel agencies/immigration agencies. 

Some of the things to bear in mind when approaching or when approached by a travel agent are:

  1. Advertisements- Some travel agencies/immigration agencies advertise their services in an appealing way which catches the attention of a consumer. The advertisements are full of promises and a guarantee that a visa application will not be rejected and visa approvals are received within a minimum timeframe. 
  • Council’s advice – Always cross check with the Embassies or High Commissions first to ensure that the advertised travel agencies/immigration agencies are legitimate 
  1. 2.      Promises- Most travel agencies/immigration agencies make flattering promises that is indeed too good to be true. For instance travel agencies/immigration agencies may advise a consumer on the criteria and timeframe taken to process a visa application. However what normally happens is that the agent could take more than three years to confirm or decline a visa application! 
  • Council’s advice- Consumers must do their “homework”. If you are interested in migrating it is always advisable to have a foreknowledge of the time taken and processes involved to receive an approved visa. Rather than depending entirely on the travel agencies/immigration agencies. 
  1. 3.      Fees and Charges- Acquiring the services of travel agencies/immigration agencies can prove to be costly. Travel agencies/immigration agencies charge exorbitant fees just to fill in standard forms that can be easily obtained from websites. The travel agencies/immigration agencies also charges a consumer a commission fee, cost of “supposedly” telephone calls made, electricity and paper usage. To some extent the consumer is only told the amount payable after filling of forms and signing of consent. 
  • Council’s Advice- Before signing any consent, a consumer must seek a written checklist with the structure of fees and charges first. Only after understanding the cost involved, than and only should a consumer approve the agent to act on their behalf. Why pay for standard forms that can be obtained from the Embassy or High Commission website?  

 

  1. 4.      Receipts and Documents- Many consumers end up paying thousands of dollars without demanding for a receipt. In some cases, consumers do not even demand for a copy of the agreement and other necessary documents. 
  • Council’s Advice- Always demand for receipts! Should the travel agencies/immigration agencies fail to do so, immediately a consumer can gauge that the travel agencies/immigration agencies is not transparent. All agreements on the processing documents must be sought in writing including a copy of the terms and conditions. Such travel agencies/immigration agencies must be reported that fail to do so. 
  1. 5.      Progress - Consumers after paying thousands of dollars, continue to follow up with the travel agencies/immigration agencies on the progress of their application. Unfortunately, the travel agencies/immigration agencies is able to manipulate the consumer saying that it is in process and an update will be provided shortly, which never happens as year’s lapse.  

 

  • Council’s advice- Always obtain a progress report in writing. Also get the travel agencies/immigration agencies to evident the progress by showing receipts that prove the application has been lodged and is in process. 

Consumers are advised to be on guard when dealing with travel agencies/immigration agencies so that their hard earned cash is not swindled. There is also a need to bring into effect specific legislations and a regulatory institution to safeguard consumers, from such travel agencies/immigration agencies that have extorted thousand of money without being penalized.