Furious Australian travellers are warning those heading to the popular holiday destination not to make this costly mistake.
Australian tourists claim they have been left confused by websites offering visas prior to arrival in Bali.
Some have discovered too late the website they clicked on wasn’t the official visa website run by the Indonesian government, and ended up paying a higher fee. This is because it turned out they had unknowingly used an agency which then assisted them to purchase the visas through the official site.
However, other travellers claimed they bought visas only to find out they were invalid on arrival in Bali. They were then left with no other option than to buy an official visa at the airport, making it an even costlier ordeal.
Social media pages for the popular holiday destination are flooded with posts from travellers who left confused by these websites.
The Indonesian Government is starting to take notice. In December the Immigration Directorate General at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights in Indonesia announced it was probing a website that may have befuddled tourists via their electronic visa on arrival (e-VOA) application platform.
Interim Immigration Director General Widodo Ekatjahjana cautioned travellers the website Indonesia eVOA https://www.indonesia-evoa.com appeared in the top searches on Google, but is far more costly than going through the official government website.
“Foreigners are asked to be cautious,” Mr Ekatjahjana said.
“Like the payment mechanism for the real e-VOA, in this … website foreigners can also make payments using a payment gateway mechanism. We remind you, the only official website for e-VOA application is molina.imigrasi.go.id.”
There is no suggestion that this particular website offered invalid visas or scammed people.
There were also many comments on a Reddit thread about the website www.indonesia-evoa.com, including from a traveller whose relatives used its service.
“I haven’t slept all night as a family member sent us the link and we processed several applications and hence lost a lot of [money],” he wrote.
“Their email back raised my suspicions, as clicking the URL from the email takes you to a totally different ‘Travel Tours’ page where you can’t click on anything. Checked my bank and the merchant details were not traceable.
“I feel ashamed, worried and alone in all this.”
The tourist later said he contacted his bank in Australia to have a block placed on his credit card. He was relieved however when the visas eventually arrived but they took a long time and cost extra money.
While there are other websites on Google that may not be on the Indonesian government’s radar, they are allegedly stinging unsuspecting travellers with hefty extra fees to assist in obtaining the visas.
Some travellers who have found this out the hard way are scrambling to attempt to get refunds from their banks, arguing the transactions were dishonest. Many say they have not been successful.
A traveller from Perth wrote on the Bali Bogans Facebook page of their experience trying to get a visa online through an unidentified website.
“People beware e-VOA (visa on arrival), I just got online and paid for my VOA thinking I was paying around $A50, turns out I just paid $204 each. I cannot be refunded, expensive mistake.”
Another commented: “I’m going to Bali for 60 days and I have purchased a visa online called B213 visa and it has cost $150, can anyone please tell if this is a legit visa type or is a scam because other websites are saying it should be only $A50 at the airport, am a bit stressed that it’s not a real visa.”
And a third said: “Can someone tell me how to do (sic) online visa as I think I just got scammed as I had $148.57 taken out for one!”
Meanwhile someone else wrote: “We arrived in Bali Airport and my two friends paid $82 each online for supposed visa. When they went through the visa point they were told it was not valid and had to pay another $50 each. Be aware.”
And another flyer was also amazed at how much she was charged.
“Visa on arrival question – I googled it and went on to this website to apply for the visas for my family and it charged us $149 each … They haven’t sent me an email confirmation either. Getting nervous my money has gone and a visa isn’t gonna come through.”
Some commenters recommended just paying for the visa at the airport.
“Pay there, two minutes, not ripped off,” one said.
Another agreed, writing: “Just pay at the airport people.”
Smartraveller said: “You can apply for an e-Visa on Arrival (e-VOA) no later than 48 hours prior to travelling to Indonesia, check the e-VOA requirements from Indonesian Immigration before applying.
“You can still apply for a regular Visa on Arrival (VOA) at certain international airports, seaports and land crossings, including Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya, Makassar, Lombok, Batam, Medan, Manado, Tanjung Pinang and Yogyakarta, if you do not apply for an e-VOA at least 48 hours in advance of your travel to Indonesia,” it said.
“The e-VOA and VOA cost IDR 500,000 (approximately $A50), with the e-VOA charging a small online processing fee.”
Smartraveller also explains what to do if you’re the victim of a scam overseas.