Earlier this year, I applied for a visa through a website that claimed that the procedure would be done within two hours if all the information submitted was accurate. 

It did not ask me for anything further, so I assumed that all was in order. As I had not received my visa within this time frame I started a “live chat” online, during which I was told that my application was “in process”.  

I immediately asked to cancel and for a refund of my £44.71 fee. I applied directly to the relevant country’s authorities and obtained my visa within hours.

RA, East Sussex

Then you received an email stating that your application through the website had been rejected because a visa had already been issued for the same passport number. This clearly indicated that its application had not been made until after you received your visa from the other source.

You tried to have a chargeback done through the Saga Platinum credit card you had used to pay with. This failed and I spoke to Saga for you.  It spoke to Allied Irish Bank (AIB), the bank providing this Saga credit card.

I was told the merchant had disputed the chargeback, arguing that its terms and conditions did not allow for refunds for items cancelled by a cardholder.

Saga said: “Unfortunately, there is nothing more that AIB can do in a situation such as this.”  In fact, my involvement had led to AIB refunding the £44.71 itself, for goodwill.  It is so easy to get entangled with third-party websites, discovered through a search engine, which render a service that it would be better to acquire through official channels. 

Other readers who have written to me after being caught out in this way include those making a Land Registry search, someone applying for a passport and another applying for a driving licence. All would have been served better had they gone via the website gov.uk. 

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