Tag Archives | captive consumers

More on USIT Canada flight costs ripoff

I wrote about this issue previously, but here’s an e-mail from another unhappy USIT customer:

I am inquiring about the extortionist prices that your company is charging for flights to Canada under the Under 35s Work and Travel Programme. I have recently and reluctantly paid over €1000 for a return flight to Canada. On the same day I made the sickening discovery that Air Canada could have flown me there for over €300 less than what I paid for flights with USIT. Of course you probably know all this as USIT have cleverly written it into their terms and conditions that I must fly with them (as I was told by a USIT representative on the phone).

I would like a detailed explanation for the extraordinary prices you charge for these flights and also a complete breakdown of the €495 charge of processing my visa application. I have read many many blog posts from irate customers of USIT (see boards.ie Independent Youth and Travel section for examples).

I am sure that there are many more out there also and in these recessionary times I don’t think it is necessary for  for USIT to be seen as overcharging people who are trying to make a go of it in Canada.

I wrote my response to a similar complaint in the original post, available here. To my mind, it’s unfortunately a case of “USIT’s game, USIT’s rules”.

The same question from the end of that post still stands though:

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?

I guess though, given that USIT are able to charge these prices and get away with it, there isn’t any alternative out there.

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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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