Auckland mum pays freelancer in Bangladesh to book MIQ spot for her | 1 NEWS

The race for managed insulation vouchers has heated up so much that Kiwis are paying travel agents and overseas contractors to book MIQ spots for them.

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Some people pay travel agents and overseas contractors to secure seats. Source: 1 NEWS

Some Kiwi expats say this is unfair and shouldn’t be allowed, but since the MIQ rooms are fully booked through November, others say this is the only way to go.

After trying unsuccessfully to book an MIQ spot for five days, Auckland mom Amber Kasbe paid a freelancer in Bangladesh to do it for her.

“At first I just logged in like everyone else, refreshing, refreshing, there were no appointments available. I started getting up at 3am … the occasional date would turn up, then it’s gone before you can get it.

“I contacted someone on Fiverr … I posted a message if anyone would be interested in doing the pesky job of clicking update, update, update. I had about 40 people who responded to the ad. “

She paid NZD 170 which she thought was well worth it. She and her daughter will travel to Panama in September for medical treatment that is not available in New Zealand.

“The reason I had to back it up this way is because programming with MIQ is terrible. The system is absolutely broken. The reason I have to travel is because I am under medical treatment for my 8 year old. I think everyone who is currently traveling makes a very weighted decision and I belong in that category. “

People walk past an MIQ facility. Source: Getty

1 NEWS spoke to the man in Bangladesh who says he updated the website for about 30 hours to secure the booking and asked for a lot less than $ 170.

In a now-deleted Facebook post, he advertised his services to other Kiwis and there was a lot of interest but also backlash, with some claiming that outsourcing was unfair.

The New Zealander Chris Ruscoe has lived in the USA since 2018, he has been trying to secure a voucher for three weeks, but has no luck.

“I don’t have the time or money to pay anyone. I think it’s extremely unfair … the spots are published on the MIQ website in milliseconds. “

But it’s not just foreign contractors doing the job while some large travel agencies like Flight Center don’t book vouchers on behalf of others, smaller New Zealand agencies have been doing this for months.

Travel agency Michele Murphy says their company, Bon Voyage Travel, offers an MIQ voucher booking service for existing customers, which is offered on successful bookings of $ 100 or more.

She warns against paying strangers to book vouchers.

“I would be very careful if you gave your information online to anyone who says they can do this for you. This is sensitive information, you are giving out passport information, dates of birth and your full name. We handle this information very carefully. “

Kasbe says she knew it was a risk, but it was the only way.

“It’s risky. That shows you what we are ready to do. If you have an eight year old who needs treatment, you are ready to do it. “

On January 1, NEWS revealed that programmers, contrary to the website’s terms, were creating programs to beat the MIQ system. MIQ officials had to make changes to the booking page to stop them.

The third party vendors 1 NEWS spoke to say they don’t use bots, they just spend hours updating the MIQ page.

Joint director of managed isolation and quarantine, Megan Main, says when people want to pay someone else to get a voucher, “that’s their choice.”

“MIQ vouchers are free and people cannot secure a voucher by paying money. However, if people want to pay someone else to monitor the website for them, this is their choice. You still have to secure a voucher like any other person. “

“As soon as the voucher is secured, it can no longer be traded or sold as the people on the voucher cannot change anything that changes the identity of the traveler.

“If people use software to bypass the system, it is a violation of the Terms of Use and we take it very seriously.”

Ruscoe says the response is “unacceptable”.

“These comments are just spectacularly shameful. I think it is the height of ignorance to claim that it is okay for New Zealanders to compete against people in India and Bangladesh who are trying to secure seats. You get paid for it. “

Site users and computer programmers have long pushed for a queuing system that would put people on a waiting list without constant updating. But the MIQ officials will not commit to this yet.

“We continue to review our policies and procedures to ensure that they are serving their purpose. This includes researching options like waiting lists and working on ways to free up as many places as possible at appropriate intervals. “

Kasbe says the system is needed now.

“The Auckland Library has it under control. If you order a book, if you book in a restaurant you will be added to a list … the software is clearly there. “

Do you know more about this story? Email our reporter Kristin Hall at [email protected]

July 20, 2021