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MSE guide discussion - shyster sites

edited 11 March 2014 at 4:58PM in Campaigns Corner
56 replies 64.5K views
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  • I got caught out by a bogus 'official' ESTA site:

    official-esta (dot) com/visa-waiver-program/esta-for-british-citizens

    which appears high up in the Google results for "esta uk" and "esta british citizens" and says it is 'Official ESTA'.

    I should have twigged when I came to pay and the charge was $95 but I was in a hurry and didn't double-check.

    The terms and conditions show that they do, indeed, charge $81 for processing what they claim is a 'Premium' service.

    I did receive my ESTA very quickly, so they do what they claim, but I still sent an email asking for a partial refund on the basis that their claim to be 'official' was misleading and their fees exorbitant.

    Had a very nice email back saying I was too late to get a refund as my ESTA had already been issued but that, as a gesture of goodwill, they will refund me 25%.

    Better than nothing, but surely their claim to be the 'Official' ESTA application site is misleading close to fraudulent?
  • Blackbeard_of_PerranporthBlackbeard_of_Perranporth Forumite
    7.4K posts
    Eighth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    ✭✭✭✭
    petercom wrote: »
    I got caught out by a bogus 'official' ESTA site:

    official-esta (dot) com/visa-waiver-program/esta-for-british-citizens

    which appears high up in the Google results for "esta uk" and "esta british citizens" and says it is 'Official ESTA'.

    I should have twigged when I came to pay and the charge was $95 but I was in a hurry and didn't double-check.

    The terms and conditions show that they do, indeed, charge $81 for processing what they claim is a 'Premium' service.

    I did receive my ESTA very quickly, so they do what they claim, but I still sent an email asking for a partial refund on the basis that their claim to be 'official' was misleading and their fees exorbitant.

    Had a very nice email back saying I was too late to get a refund as my ESTA had already been issued but that, as a gesture of goodwill, they will refund me 25%.

    Better than nothing, but surely their claim to be the 'Official' ESTA application site is misleading close to fraudulent?
    I am afraid you paid for a service. If you do a refund or chargeback, your esta will be cancelled. This is mentioned on the esta website.

    The correct website is.

    https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/application.html;jsessionid=5K5qFZEnSXqndejfV1-64ZEE4XkxLzxfw7PEeqCwdQcqtVkkgOmi!-47577928?execution=e1s1

    And don’t use this google thing.
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  • edited 27 March 2019 at 10:54AM
    dablondidablondi Forumite
    7 posts
    edited 27 March 2019 at 10:54AM
    My son has just been duped into using this website evisacanadaeta[dot]com and been charged the princely sum of £80 to apply for a Canadian ETA that normally costs CAD $7 (£3.50). I know many will say "Should have read the small print" but I am posting this as a heads up to others. Although the Terms and Conditions do state the fee - it is by no means clear. It says the fee is "$75" but does not make it clear if this US or CAD (in the same sentence the ETA fee is referred to as "CAD$7" so clearly this is CAD. It also says about the $75 service fee "... the amount depends on where the application is made" so I believe the figure of $75 is meaningless.

    The website claims to be regulated under English law and indicates the company name to be World Visa Ltd with the address 1 Mark Square, London EC2A 4EG, United Kingdom. I checked on Companies House website and no such company exists however this company looks to be very similar: WORLD VISA NETWORK LTD, Company number 10221808,54 Greenfield Rd, 2nd Floor, London, England, E1 1EJ.

    My questions are:
    1. I've read that sites like this are supposed to clearly display a banner on their homepage clearly stating they are a private company and not a government affiliated site. This site does not (although item 1 on T&Cs page does state this). Is this a legal matter or just a code of conduct issue?
    2. The fee is shown as a Dollar ($) amount but the fee has been charged as a GBP (£) amount ie £75 GBP instead of $75 which if US would be £56 or if CAD would be £42. I fear this is a typo on the T&Cs page and should say £75 not $75. Where do I stand legally on this, typo or not?
    3. The website claims I have no rights to redress stating "Once you have submitted your application online or by phone, we assume that you have agreed that we will immediately begin processing your application and providing our services. Accordingly, you will have no right to a cancellation under the protection regulations "The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013". This is because under Rule 36 (1) (a) and 37 (1) (a), you lose your right to cancellation if you agree that we can begin to provide services within the time limits cancellation." Is this correct?
    4. If the company details are incorrect on the website is this fraud or contravention of trading standards?

    I plan to write/e-mail to World Visa Ltd asking for my sons money back and I have also reported this website with Fraud Online but any advice/guidance would be appreciated.
  • littlegolittlego Forumite
    1 posts
    dablondi wrote: »
    My son has just been duped into using this website evisacanadaeta[dot]com and been charged the princely sum of £80 to apply for a Canadian ETA that normally costs CAD $7 (£3.50). I know many will say "Should have read the small print" but I am posting this as a heads up to others. Although the Terms and Conditions do state the fee - it is by no means clear. It says the fee is "$75" but does not make it clear if this US or CAD (in the same sentence the ETA fee is referred to as "CAD$7" so clearly this is CAD. It also says about the $75 service fee "... the amount depends on where the application is made" so I believe the figure of $75 is meaningless.

    The website claims to be regulated under English law and indicates the company name to be World Visa Ltd with the address 1 Mark Square, London EC2A 4EG, United Kingdom. I checked on Companies House website and no such company exists however this company looks to be very similar: WORLD VISA NETWORK LTD, Company number 10221808,54 Greenfield Rd, 2nd Floor, London, England, E1 1EJ.

    My questions are:
    1. I've read that sites like this are supposed to clearly display a banner on their homepage clearly stating they are a private company and not a government affiliated site. This site does not (although item 1 on T&Cs page does state this). Is this a legal matter or just a code of conduct issue?
    2. The fee is shown as a Dollar ($) amount but the fee has been charged as a GBP (£) amount ie £75 GBP instead of $75 which if US would be £56 or if CAD would be £42. I fear this is a typo on the T&Cs page and should say £75 not $75. Where do I stand legally on this, typo or not?
    3. The website claims I have no rights to redress stating "Once you have submitted your application online or by phone, we assume that you have agreed that we will immediately begin processing your application and providing our services. Accordingly, you will have no right to a cancellation under the protection regulations "The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013". This is because under Rule 36 (1) (a) and 37 (1) (a), you lose your right to cancellation if you agree that we can begin to provide services within the time limits cancellation." Is this correct?
    4. If the company details are incorrect on the website is this fraud or contravention of trading standards?

    I plan to write/e-mail to World Visa Ltd asking for my sons money back and I have also reported this website with Fraud Online but any advice/guidance would be appreciated.

    Hi, my husband has just done exactly the same thing. He bought visa's for us and our two children through a site called etaelectronicvisa.com which has the same London address that you mentioned, same T&C's. We don't know where to start with trying to get our money back. Please could you advise if you managed to get anywhere with it? Also do you actually get the visa's from this company (just at an inflated price?) or is the whole thing a scam? I am concerned that they have our passport details also. Any advice would be appreciated.
  • EBrownEBrown Forumite
    1 posts
    I have ended up paying £356 for ESTA application through a shyster website, ESTA to USA. I did not even realise this would not be an official government website. I checked my banking details and noticed the pending debit of £356 and contacted them within the hour to say I wanted a full refund. I copied the Money Saving letter request and sent this to them too. This morning they have replied and said they process them quickly and the Visas have been emailed so they cannot refund. I'm not sure what else I can now do. Just feel completely robbed of £300 and feel so silly!
  • Important update! We have recently reviewed and updated our Forum Rules and FAQs. Please take the time to familiarise yourself with the latest version.
  • VerticaldropVerticaldrop Forumite
    10 posts
    Sixth Anniversary First Post Combo Breaker
    MoneySaving Newbie
    One to watch out for is Vehicle Information when renewing vehicle tax. Its website is prioritised by Google and Bing and it mimics the DVLA website. So, it's easy to be misdirected and you'll find yourself entering your credit or debit card details. However, you won't be paying your road tax. Instead, you'll find that you're charged an initial 50p followed by £5.95 every month ad infinitum for 'services' you couldn't possibly have had in mind or need. Who needs them to 'monitor your Tax and MOT status'? It's essentially a scam website that will bleed money from your account without you really noticing. Beware.
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