Published: January 26th 2011January 26th 2011
Planning a trip overseas inspires a mixture of excitement and trepidation as one prepares to set off into the unknown and turn dreams into reality. Purchasing an airline ticket is only the start and navigating one's way around foreign bureaucracy and visa requirements can be quite a challenge, as demonstrated by my naive forray into obtaining an Iranian visa over the internet.
I selected an online visa application service - www.iranianvisa.com - who required a service fee of 30 Euros (almost $55 Australian dollars) to organise a letter of invitation with a visa authorisation code to be sent to my local Iranian Embassy in Canberra, ACT (Australia's capital). I filled in some details and sent off an online application and asked IranianVisa.com if there was a difference in cost for using either a British or Australian passport. They replied it did not make any difference.
I then called my local embassy to check the costs and discovered it would be much cheaper to apply with my Australian passport ($119) instead of British passport ($170). The embassy also advised me I could contact a travel agent in Tehran and request a letter of invitation free of charge. So no need for me to pay 30 Euros to some dodgy internet company.
While IranianVisa.com initially appeared to be a simple, no fuss application guaranteed to "obtain an Iranian Visa in 7 easy steps" this quickly deteriorated into a rapid-fire email exchange with repeated demands for the 30 Euro application payment and threats to report me to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
While phrases such as "unscupulous conduct" and "poor business principles" accompanied by long-winded declarations on the violations of contract law immediately spring to mind, I'm tempted to yawn, stretch and declare -
Blow Me, IranianVisa.com.
I suggest other travellers do likewise.
My advice: contact the local embassy in your country, follow their instructions, have faith and patience and cut out the unscrupulous middle men who resort to bullying and threatening naive travellers into paying uneccesary "administration fees" all in the name of tourism.
CASE REF : 0000430210 - For The Last Time!
Unfortunately we have not received any news from you,yet. So we are led to think that you are ignoring the payment instructions.
Please notice that we have to report this and after this report,your details will be sent to the immigration dep. And you will have bad consular file and this will remain in their system forever.So even you want to travel Iran in the future,your application will be failed and you can not enter Iran.Also your application have been costly and timely for us and now your application result is ready ,so if you do not follow your application,you will have problems .
Please arrange the payment until 28 Jan., because we need to clear the application fee payment status on Sat. 29 Jan.
Not receiving the payment by then, we have to report the matter to the MFA and the immigrations for further actions and border control.
If we do not receive the application fee payment ,we have to send the 0000430210 report as your application has been costly and timely for us and you are responsible to paying ,whether you want it to use or not.This is you have sent this request and now you ignore to pay the application fee payment.
We have done a service for you and you have to pay for it.
Hope you will be more serious!