I have to admit I have been scammed! However, and in my defence, at no point in the purchase did it let on that, they were not an official site, or that I was are merely paying a fee for the form filling and not for the actual passport. The site goes out of their way to look legitimate, that they are ‘not the official site’ is hidden in the middle of tiny grey text on a grey background at the bottom of the page when I was looking for the customer services, and was nowhere to be seen when I first used the site.
When I had not received the completed forms to sign within the promised 10 days, I discovered their ploy and we have had to stump-up the full cost of the passports again to pay HM IPS
once if your form ever arrives.
This site not only break several of Google’s terms for advertising, such as not using google to commit fraud, not to mention utterly ignoring the law that states that individual terms and conditions cannot under any circumstances override statutory consumer rights, but Google don’t seem to mind, being a patsy for thieves, so long as they’re getting paid to advertise: yes, you heard me Google, right now you might as well be the front for the Maffia!
To add to this disgrace, they are actually one of 2 companies charging for a service the HM IPS offer free, that come up before the official site on a Google search for passport services’. This apparently breaks Google’s terms and conditions, according to a Guardian article from earlier in the year (see bottom) but it looks like they have taken that clause out rather than fixed the actual problem.
On top of financial fraud this there is the theft of personal details under false pretences to consider. So far, these companies have merely been fined for their blatantly fraudulent conduct. Why have they not been prosecuted and imprisoned too? Yes, I feel like an utter muppet for falling for it and I now have to find another £49 per passport for Oscar and Henry because once they have your money you can’t get hold of them. They don’t even provide what you have paid for.
So far, I have notified:
- The Office of Fair Trading
- The Advertising Standards Agency
- BBC Watchdog
about this company but really need to let people know not to use them as a matter of conscience. I am really REALLY pissed off and don’t want other people caught by the same trap.
For your own safety, do not trust a Google search, ONLY use the HMRC official site
Apparently, their tiny and barely readable disclaimer, makes what they do a legal and legitimate service in the eyes of trading standards and the ASA. However, having heard the issue raised again on BBC Radio 4′s ‘You and Yours’ this week, I gather the problem of people being scammed is on the increase.
Why do they not just make these ‘services’ illegal and be done with it, and make Google liable for accepting money to advertise them?