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USIT – screwing extra cash from a captive consumer?

I recently received this e-mail from a ValueIreland.com reader:

Im hoping you may help me with this problem. I have recently applied to Usit travel for a visa to work in Canada for 1 yr, the cost of this is 490. Usit have told me that when the visa is granted I will have to book my flights with them, costing roughly 1,200 return plus I must take their insurance, which is another 450 approx… I do not think this is fare, as there are charter flights leaving Dublin in the summer going direct to the 3 main Canadian cities and the return flights are a fraction of the Usit price, approx 500 return, also travel insurance can be got much cheaper.If there is no way around this situation I may cancel my visa application altogether and Im sure I’ll end up at a loss there too with no refund, even though I have not sent any paperwork to them yet. Surely this is non consumer friendly, can you please shed some light on this.

My response, though probably not as positive as would have been hoped for, based on the information provided, was as follows:

Not being fully familiar with the scenario you describe, I can only go by your e-mail details. As you say, this is a non consumer friendly activity, but I would guess that there is technically nothing wrong or illegal about what USIT are doing here.

My guess is that in providing you with a Canadian visa that part of the terms and conditions in the provision of this service is that you’re tied into buying the other services as well. So, by giving you access to a service (which might not be available elsewhere, the visa) they’re tying you in to paying over the odds for services that you obviously can find elsewhere.

As I say, it’s not very nice, but there’s nothing technically wrong with it. Are there any other alternatives to getting a Canadian visa without having to go through USIT?

With regards to your deposit, whether or not you get this back will be down to the terms and conditions you signed up to when you paid the deposit and started this process.

Is anyone else more familiar with this type of situation? Is there any other way to get a Canadian Visa without going through USIT – surely there should be alternatives?

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