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1. Posted by milt1978 (Budding Member 32 posts) 9y

i discovered this in another forum and though you should all have a read!

"The jist of it was that when using Visa first for Australian (and presumably other countries) visa's and money transfer they try and sell you things you don't need and you have take it in an all or nothing kind of approach, and they'll rip you off in the process.

First off, you get the Visa from them for an over the odds price compared to doing it yourself, but that fair enough to save you the hassle.

When you're on the phone to them though they hound you to take out their amazing offers blah! blah! blah! This includes your bank account and a SIM card and some info pack or something, I can't really remember what they say they'll give you but what you pay for it equates to is you getting shafted. It was over 100 euro I think.

Basically they charge you and extra (big) chunk to set up your bank account with the bank of their choice and give you a SIM card which they say is worth 30 euro, but is actually free in any of the shops when you get over. They also harp on about how difficult it is to setup a bank account over here when you get here, but they'll do all that for you, despite the fact it's no problem setting up an account when you get here once you have your passport and I think one other form of ID.

Then they tell you you'll need to transfer money into the account they charge you for setting up. They'll do this for a nominal fee of course (i'll come back to that). You need to do this because you have to prove you have $5000 in your account when you arrive at the airport. First of all, a lot of people aren't even asked about this. I wasn't, and neither were any of my friends who all arrived spread out over about 6 seperate occasions. I also checked up on it anyway, and an Irish bank account statement will do you fine if its recent. You don't have to setup any account here if you didn't want to, though it might make sense if you're staying any lenght. That way you can decide what bank you want to setup with and don't have to stick with the one they setup. A lot of people I know switched accounts. Oh and also, you wont want to let Visa First do this too early because you start getting charged bank fee's before you ever arrive to activate the account or before you put money in. You'll be putting it into a minus balance.

Their best trick by far though is the money transfer one. Whatever you do, do not use this crowd to transfer money to your account. They just completely use their own exchange rate and say nothing about it unless you cop on yourself. First of all they charge you 15 euro to transfer the money in for an "International Money Transfer". When you go and check your account however there was no international transfer at all, the money in the account at this end comes from another local account. That's misrepresentation about the transaction type in itslef I reckon.
The best bit though is the exchange rate you get, it's about 10 points off whatever the going rate is at the time. Basically, this happened to me and ALL my friends over here who used them for varrying amounts.

I transfered 5000 euro into my account and at the exchange rate at the time that should have converted to between 8200 and 8300 dollars. Taking the high and low of the exchange rate for the 3 day period that it took for the transfer to go into Visa firsts Irish account, and when it appeared in the Australian account. I asked when I was on the phone to a Visa First representative was there any extra charges or fees, and I was told no, just the 15 euro transfer fee and the exchange rate was the rate at the time. Now even assume a little commission on top of that that they aren't telling you about.......how much should have been in my account???

A bit more than 7800 dollars anyway, so they took somehwere between 400 and 500 dollars more out of a 5000 euro transfer than the exchange rate was. I asked in the bank here and they said it was a national bank transfer and they must have used their own exchange rate. I know some people who followed this up and got a fraction of their money back, but no where near as much as they should. I also know people who tried to follow it up and and haven't gotten a response to their emails yet."

2. Posted by oslaue (Full Member 571 posts) 9y

i might have to agree with you to some of the points above.
however i havent used the transfer option and i dont plan to either.
i just dont like the idea of relying on other people and i dont like the idea of money going into someone elses account other than my own.

i only went for the bank account / visa option with visafirst.

i went to look for a agency to do this for me because i was so busy in work working long hours that at the time i had no time to do any research and i couldnt do any of that kind of business when i was working on a client site.

i was up to my eye balls in work and was just looking to pay someone to do the work for me, i know how long and hard it can take to open up bank accounts in other countrys such as ireland and uk because you need to prove your address, i know i had huge problems with this when i had just moved to england so i thought maybe the same applys in other countrys like australia.

the 100 euro you mention is a bit generous...for visa and bank account, i think but i cant remember 100% but i think i paid way more like 200 euro..in total...

i will admit, they got my visa and bank account set up within a couple of days...

but they were up front about the price for a visa / bank account, i had the money and i paid...i dont feel like a sucker, i still am happy cos i avoided hassle, extra work and stress...

i think for the budget traveller then do it yourself, but for someone like me i need to start work asap when im in australia...i have no time to wait till the account is set up and for what i do, i cant be employed until a bank account is set up....

[ Edit: Edited on Feb 7, 2007, at 8:50 AM by oslaue ]

3. Posted by milt1978 (Budding Member 32 posts) 9y

Hi Oslaue,

But bank accounts a free, all you need is your passport and another form of ID. Why take this risk in my eye's?

4. Posted by oslaue (Full Member 571 posts) 9y

of course i am aware opening up a bank account is free...but i dont expect someone who opens it up on my behalf to be free.

i avoided filling out lots of forms, proving who i am, where i work, letters from employers to say i work for them that i am on x amount of money etc...i aint talking about a basic bank account...im talking about a current bank account, doh shit, ill probably have that one when i arrive in australia.

another thing, opening up a bank account in the uk can take up to 3-4 weeks...it depends...everyone has had different encounters.

its really a mix bag...and i for one did not want to take the risk of risking a job of not having a bank account opened up.

plus with all banks from what i know, and i have worked for banks before, one needs to prove were they live, how can i? if i live in a hostel or hotel? i have no bills, no statements to prove were i live...thats probably the BIGGEST problem in opening up a bank account.

passport and id is fine....but one needs proof of address...well thats standard for all banks in ireland and uk.

5. Posted by milt1978 (Budding Member 32 posts) 9y

And you'd be happy to pay $600, $700 for the privilege! cant wait to see where your taking me for that pint!

ANZ bank, City Bank, HSBC all have accounts for travellers with no fixed abode, remember, the "backpacker" market is huge in Australia. and they too want a slice of the pie! check their sites drop them an email!

[ Edit: Edited on Feb 7, 2007, at 9:25 AM by milt1978 ]

6. Posted by oslaue (Full Member 571 posts) 9y

no no...i saw a price that suited my needs...if its stupid money to be paying then yah i wont pay for it...as in $600 / $700 like you said.

maybe you are right about the australian backpacker market in australia and the bank accounts...but for joe soap like me, we can only assume that europe banks behave in the same - similar way to the rest of the banks in the world, there is normally financial laws in place like this that the banks cant even control which are normally ran by the financial services authority of that country.

in europe they are tougher because its managed by the EU, australia can and may be able to do as they please....

7. Posted by milt1978 (Budding Member 32 posts) 9y

I've just checked, i can open an account with ANZ bank from here in the UK via the internet before i travel. so long as i can go to a branch within 6 weeks of arriving i will not have to reapply, i can also transfer money in to this account before i travel. if i use their online banking i do not need an Australian permanent address but i do have to provide my home address (in the UK).

Regardless, the obvious scam that is being carried out by these so called companies, back home, that want to 'make life easy' is scandalous and are blatantly ripping us off with out a care in the world for maximum profit and in some cases miss-informing people in order to do so, my friend was told that she had to open an Australian bank account in order to get her visa! That’s just not true!

Not only that their call centre is in Bulgaria, the capital of the world for fraud and identity theft! no allegations intended but take the risk at your peril!

[ Edit: Edited on Feb 8, 2007, at 3:22 AM by milt1978 ]

8. Posted by milt1978 (Budding Member 32 posts) 9y

Just an update, the site that originally posted this thread have had to remove it! i guess Visa First don’t want us knowing what goes on? or what people think of them?

9. Posted by oslaue (Full Member 571 posts) 9y

bulgaria??? !!!! that is why when i speak to those women they have gotten these hmmmm sexy eastern european accents.

ha bulgaria only entered the EU in january and already ireland getting very pissed off with them as they are activly carrying otu fraud & benefit scams in the country.

well having you said all that to me, and if its all true...then yah i would have done it all myself.

10. Posted by VisaFirst (First Time Poster 1 posts) 9y

Dear Milt,
One of our team has recently notified me of this posting and I would like to take the opportunity to respond:

Visa First provide working holiday visa and arrival services to thousands of people worldwide and have been doing so since 1994.

We do have a processing fee for each of our services and of course let all of our customers know the second they are contact us as most of our business is word of mouth.

Using our visa service as an example, visas are organised by phone in 8 minutes and customers can pay in cash or postal order. As part of the visa application all customers are also invited to our Sydney work arrival centre for an orientation on jobs and accomodation etc on arrival. They are also invited to a drinks night afterwards. All of this is offered for something in the region of 30 pounds on top of the immigration fee. I dont think its fair to call that an 'over the odds' price.

I consider this to be good value considering it is considerably cheaper than any other agent will offer and other agents would not offer the work arrival service which many of our customers value.

Every one of our customers request feedback or have particular queries relating to their visas for which a call centre has to be made available to answer queries from 8am-8pm Monday-Friday. The alternative to getting your questions answered in real time at no charge through Visa First is to contact the embassy and anyone that has tried to phone the embassy will appreciate how frustrating it is trying to get through, after a 10 minute wait which is billed at £1 per minute you will find out quickly enough.

All other services are add ons which our customers can choose to buy or not to buy in advance of leaving. Sim cards for example need to be freighted to the Uk and posted to customers etc. Some customers choose to pick one up before leaving as they like the idea of having their phone number before leaving. I myself would probably have bought one too. Bank accounts are optional as are work courses and hostel bookings.

Our migration/sponsorship visa service is the cheapest migration visas available in the UK while UK agents have no set fees resulting in 'over the odds' prices, we have a set fee from start to finish which again includes relocation services. As a result we have attracted quite a few customers from other UK agents looking for a better deal which I canot imagine many other agents are happy about.

Kind Regards
Barry
Visa First