Dear editor:
Three weeks ago, I noticed that my Canadian permanent resident card will expire in July of this year. I decided to apply for renewal promptly.
The folks at Service Canada in the post office building were once very helpful with this sort of thing, but now one has to apply online.
“It’s fairly straightforward,” I was told.
Perhaps it is for most people, but I doubted that would include seniors with limited computer skills and understanding.
A friend said: “Just follow the prompts!” Okay . . . so I typed in CRA-Renewal of Permanent Resident card. Presto—on top of the lists was PR Card Renewal; click on www.immigrationdirect.ca and follow the directions.
A piece of cake!
Until I came to the second request for payment. I had paid $50 at the outset and printed the receipt as directed. Then a second fee for $49 appeared.
I called the phone number to question that and was told that the $50.00 was to the government for the document while the $49 was the fee to apply online. When I explained that there was no other option but to apply online, the voice on the phone simply said: “Well, that is our fee.”
So, yes, I paid it, printed my receipt, completed my paperwork, got pictures, and other documents in order, and mailed my application to Sydney, N.S., where it did arrive safely.
Recently I received my Visa statement with an outstanding balance of $.87! The statement revealed that Citizenship Ottawa received $50. It then showed that Immigrationdirect Canada, of San Francisco, Calif., received $49.87—not $49 as my receipt verified.
Smaller print revealed $44.26 (U.S.) @1.126751017=$49.87.
Why were they dealing in U.S. currency? No mention of that with their fee?!
Several phone calls and e-mails to Immigrationdirect got no satisfactory results. It was the local immigration office and the CRA office that helped me to see I had been duped.
This is an American company supposedly helping unsuspecting people like myself to apply for a card that, in fact, can be done directly through the CRA website.
The name Immigrationdirect is very misleading. I actually believed I was dealing directly with the CRA website.
In a final e-mail, I requested that Immigrationdirect refund the entire $49.87 to my card, at which point I did receive a phone call. The fellow refused, saying that it couldn’t be reversed since my paperwork already was submitted.
I did remind him that to change an amount not endorsed by me is fraud, and that I expect to see the $.87 credit on my next Visa statement.
I share this experience in hopes to alert others who might get caught in the same “trap.” Following the prompts isn’t always safe.
And if not for the $.87 discrepancy on my Visa bill, I may not have become aware of this at all.
Fort Frances, Ont.