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to think that sites that charge you ££ for free things should be shut down?

(23 Posts)
Kiriwawa Tue 23-Apr-13 10:41:14

I've just applied for new EHICs (European Health insurance cards) for the family.

I googled EHIC and the first 2 sites that came up offer to process your application for £30.

EHICs are free through the NHS but it took a couple of goes for me to find the genuine website. I'm sure there are plenty of other scams like this that take advantage of people who don't have English as a first language and/or are not very tech savvy.

Is there anything that can be done or is that just the way of the internet? Does it not count as fraud? It makes me very angry to think that some people might be duped

MrsHoarder Tue 23-Apr-13 10:45:18

Its very hard to shut down criminal sites, let alone ones that are a bit dodgy. The internet isn't centrally controlled so anyone can set up whatever site they want and are hard to trace by the nature if it.

Beehatch Tue 23-Apr-13 10:52:05

There are dodgy passport checking ones too. Even quite tech savvy people can be taken in by them, I suppose because the sites look official (deliberately). I know people should have their suspicion meters set very high, but these fraudsters just get more slippery.

Don't know what the answer is - basically you just can't trust anything on the internet.

Sparklyblue Tue 23-Apr-13 10:58:47

I had this problem too. The site I was on wanted £19 each for the cards. I was [shocked] as I knew they were free.
Went on the NHS site and got them last week.

Sparklyblue Tue 23-Apr-13 10:59:17

opps shock

Kiriwawa Tue 23-Apr-13 11:02:59

Doesn't a website have to be registered in the UK to use the .uk suffix? So couldn't the .org one be restricted to genuine non-profit organisations?

I'm probably clutching at straws here sad

youmeatsix Tue 23-Apr-13 11:09:26

martin lewis was on about this very problem (sites charging for these cards) on his programme the other night, its impossible to police sites like this, and they rely on people being lazy and not doing their homework, how far do we have to go to protect people?? the information IS there for them

MTSgroupie Tue 23-Apr-13 11:12:11

John Lewis is selling plastic storage boxes at £10 each. Homebase is selling similar ones for £7. Sainsbury is selling them for £5.

Same Sainsbury is selling USB memory sticks for £30. I can get same brand from Amazon for £16.

Is the above fraud? Of course it isn't. There are always businesses out there that will rely on the uninformed to pay their higher prices. I don't see that sites that get you to pay for something that you could get for free is any different.

Buyer Beware etc etc.

MTSgroupie Tue 23-Apr-13 11:17:52

Old story but I once saw ad in The Economist. A US attorney at law would, for a charge, process your application for the US Green Card lottery. You can apply directly for free! I know two people who paid up.

Kiriwawa Tue 23-Apr-13 11:29:08

MTSGroupie - there is a big difference between items being sold at different prices in different shops and government/state issued paperwork I think.

heidihole Tue 23-Apr-13 11:33:26

Having had a look at the site you're probably taking about I think YABU. The site is hugely clear about what you're getting for your money which is a check and send application service. The same kind of thing you can get at a post office for your passport or EHIC.

Obviously some people are happy doing it themselves for no charge. Other people want to pay for a professional who does them all day and knows what they're doing to do it.

The websites add a value added service and charge for it. It's up to you if you want to take advantage of it or not.

Or do you think the post office is a scam too with their check and send application services?

MTSgroupie Tue 23-Apr-13 11:38:27

I don't see the difference. You expect the law to protect people who are uninformed. I don't.

As far as I am aware, these sites don't claim to be the official site so it's hardly fraud.

KobayashiMaru Tue 23-Apr-13 11:43:16

There are lots of things people pay for that could be free. It's called capitalism. Haven't we enough nanny state laws already?

heidihole Tue 23-Apr-13 11:43:29

The website says very clearly I think that they aren't affiliated with the NhS. It's impossible to apply without seeing the text as it's on the apply page itself saying they are a third party.

Why would you want to "shut down" a professional business that presumably helps a lot of people and employs people!

I don't understand the anger myself!

MrsHoarder Tue 23-Apr-13 11:47:04

One unintended consequence of banning charging for such services could be to prevent those unable to read/write English from being able to pay someone to help them with official forms. 99% literacy rates still means 1 in every 100 adults will struggle with forms.

Kiriwawa Tue 23-Apr-13 11:54:43

Have you applied for an EHIC? You have to fill in your name, DOB and address and that's it. How is a website which has exactly the same fields on it helping the illiterate? confused

A passport checking service is entirely different.

I don't see any difference between these sites and some dodgy geezer using sales patter to scam people by selling really cheap goods for loads of money.

But then I'm not very keen on capitalism per se

MTSgroupie Tue 23-Apr-13 11:56:54

I/we figured that one out already Kiri smile

Kiriwawa Tue 23-Apr-13 12:02:03

grin MTS

PhallicGiraffe Tue 23-Apr-13 14:37:38

I just googled EHIC and the first link was the NHS one, and the second was the money saving expert thread 'how to get a free EHIC'. I don't see any problems here.
Of course I always ignore the advertising links, are those what you mean?

specialsubject Tue 23-Apr-13 14:41:45

not keen on capitalism? Stop buying anything, then.

that'll work well.

con-men and people charging too much are how it is. The job is to be sufficiently intelligent and well-informed not to fall for it.

montage Tue 23-Apr-13 14:46:40

I think it's people who are unfamiliar with using the internet and just come on to do something specific like an EHIC or Passport application that could easily click on the first/highlighted link they see.

Guardian money covered it recently too.

I don't think it's great that such sites can pay google to be first on the list because of the way it's set up.

heidihole Wed 24-Apr-13 08:06:17

Montage, Google aren't a charity! They have to make money somehow and pay their staff. That is why they take paid adverts.

LIZS Wed 24-Apr-13 08:15:11

It's the same for Visas and ESTA cards. What is more worrying than the profiteering itself is that it means a 3rd party has access to your personal data.

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