RTÉ One, Tuesday, 8.30pm
The Consumer Show

The Consumer Show

Migration Agencies

The average age of emigrants has now risen to 32 and emigration has become employment led with particular skills being sought by particular countries. There's a lot of paperwork to do before you hop on a plane. There are companies called migration agencies who help consumers cut through the red tape. They offer to arrange visas and some will help emigrants find jobs in another country.

The Consumer Show is aware that two UK-based migration agents have been the subject of some consumer complaints. These companies are Global Visas and City Visas. In the cases the European Consumer Centre has seen, the fees involved have been significant.

Out of work bricklayer Gordon Brennan dreamed of a new life in Australia so his father, Vincent, contacted Global Visas in the UK. Gordon and Vincent were happy with what Global Visas outlined on the phone and decided to sign up as clients, knowing there were no guarantees but expecting a professional service.

They weren't happy and Gordon and Vincent asked for their money back but didn't get it. And in January 2013 they made a complaint to the European Consumer Centre.

Following our initial enquiries Liam Clifford the founder of Global Visas in the UK got in touch with The Consumer Show.

He said "I am no longer manager in the UK". However, he said that... "from our companies view we dealt with some 400,000 enquiries last year and with all the care in the world... I would not say even we get every case right 100% of the time as each case is unique and must be dealt with on its own merits. We do try very hard however to correct every mistake quickly"

However when we put the details of Gordon Brennan's case directly to Global Visas in London they didn't give us a response for inclusion in the programme.

Gordon and Vincent first asked for a refund in July 2012. So far, their 1,200 Sterling hasn't been refunded to them.

Vytenis Miciuta is a Lithuanian carpenter - a victim of the construction industry collapse in Ireland who wanted to relocate his family to Australia.

By December 2011 Vytenis paid a company called City Visas 1500 Sterling for their expertise and knowledge. According to City Visas' client care letter a detailed consulation would take place within 72 hours of him signing up as a client. He wasn't satisfied with the service he got.

Vytenis got in touch with the European Consumer Centre - they contacted City Visas three times on his behalf but even they got no response.

The UK Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner, which regulates immigration agencies, told us City Visas had been deregistered in September 2012. Complaints about them were also referred to the trading standards authority in Birmingham.

So it was a pleasant surprise when The Consumer Show finally got a response from City Visas on the 6th March this year. Their version of events was that they hadn't had contact from Vytenis and so the case had paused for more than year. But they also said

"we are happy to accept full responsibility and provide a full refund of fees and cancel the application at the clients request."

They took Vytenis' bank account details and. nothing has been heard from them since.

Tips for the Consumer when Paying for a Service:

  • You have the same consumer rights for services as you do for goods.
  • Find out what you are supposed to get for your money, if you are unsure about any parts of the service being offered ask for confirmation in writing of what exactly you can expect to get.
  • Search online for information about the company.
  • Keep a record of all your phone calls and email exchanges.
  • If you have problems, contact National Consumer Agency - or the European Consumer Centre for cross border transactions.

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