OFT probes dodgy sites that charge for free gov services
You've paid your taxes, Euro healthcare cards are free
The Office of Fair Trading is investigating dodgy websites that charge punters for government services which are available for free.
Given the crapness of government websites, it often takes some amount of digging before you find what you want. Enterprising conpersons are getting their sites further up the Google rankings and either charge for services available for free, or charge more than the government would do.
Examples include charging for European Health Insurance Cards or charging people for booking theory driving tests.
The OFT said it couldn't name any actual examples while investigations continued. But it said it hoped to take action, if necessary, once its investigation is complete.
Cavendish Elithorn, senior director of the OFT's Goods and Consumer Group, said:
"It is important that companies are clear about the service they are offering, and do not trick people into paying for something that they can get for free or much cheaper on government websites ... With summer holidays approaching, many people will be making applications for EHICs in particular, so we encourage travellers to take time to check that they are using an official government website."
The real site for applying for EHICs is here. ®
Site - restricted search
Most of here know this, but if you add
(note the leading dot) to a google search then it restricts the answers to URLs in that domain.
Or enter your search, click on "advanced search" and the domain restriction is at the bottom of the page.
Confusing gubbmint website; not in this case
The EHIC government website is perfectly fine; and the staff were brilliant; at very short notice were able to add my son to my wife's card - even exercising discretion and able to find my wife's card under a previous address, and transfer her and my details to a new address (without prompting or transferring to another dept). One phone call, job done.
If we'd make the mistake of picking any of the top 10 google results; we'd have paid up to twenty quid, and they wouldn't have been able to get the job done.
This isn't a gubbment failing, quite simply it's unscrupulous organisations gaming search engines and conning the public.
As well as attempting to regulate the internets or get google to act in a responsible manner, it might be more effective to ban 3rd party applications (and black list the numbers/addresses they use)
This is good advice, but you also need to search .nhs.uk some of the time, eg if you want an EHIC.