Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Heartless insult added to injury

We’ve heard a lot about planes grounded in Europe, and the chaos that’s caused. The news has shown folks camping in New York City’s JFK airport, among others.

People have been stranded in many countries, including New Zealand. However, Immigration New Zealand decided to make things even worse for folks stranded here: If their visitor’s visas have expired, these stranded people are being forced to extend their visitor’s visa by ten days—after paying $120, cash or credit card accepted.

Maybe the Immigration Act doesn’t give INZ any leeway to wave the fee, even in extraordinary circumstances like these. However, I bet the Immigration Minister has discretion. So, how about it, Jonathan Coleman? Why not help these weary travellers feel a little better about New Zealand? Or, do you even care?

Update: Immigration New Zealand has done the right thing:

"People who have been forced to delay their flights to Europe should contact us to discuss their situation, if they need further permits to be in New Zealand while they reschedule their travel plans. Immigration New Zealand will waive the fees required for such people to extend their visas or permits.

"If you have already paid for a further visa or permit in the last few days please contact us as you may be eligible for a refund of those fees."

Tip o' the Hat to Reed who provided the link to this in the comments to this post.


jamie said...

Seems simple enough. That little bit of goodwill can go a long way.

Moosep and Buddy Rabbit said...

That will surely keep people from visiting NZ again.

epilonious said...

I invite entrepreneurial Australians to start offering boat-rides and plane trips to Australia for $80. They can spend the trip discussing how they think Kiwi's are a bunch of dicks ;) .

And yeah, it is precisely miserly stuff like this that makes me think "ew, it's gonna be a total pain in the ass to visit there, why bother?"

Arthur Schenck said...

Jamie: Exactly! We can't possibly be talking about very many people—just ones who were leaving at the end, or near to the end, of their tourist visas. Those folks will have to spend money in New Zealand while they're waiting to get on a flight, so the country couldn't lose out on much money—probably none, all things considered.

moosep: Yep. You know the old saying, about how an unhappy customer will tell ten people. Something so small could've made a huge difference.

epilonious: Well, maybe not boat rides: By the time they docked in Oz, their flight from Auckland would be ready to leave. ;-)

Again, it's about thinking through the implications of being so rigid in policy so as to not screw up all out tourism marketing efforts.

I actually had an idea: The Immigration Service could offer to refund the fee and invite affected people to apply. Most probably wouldn't bother, but it'd still make them feel a little less taken advantage of.

Reed said...

Is fixed (heard about this on the radio and noticed it today on their web site)-- http://www.immigration.govt.nz/migrant/general/generalinformation/news/icelandvolcano.htm

Arthur Schenck said...

Thanks for the link! I updated the post with the info since, oddly, there are people who don't read blog comments; strange, but true. ;-)

Thanks again!