The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says it has no issue with people paying third parties to book managed isolation vouchers as Kiwis overseas scramble to book a room.
Currently the MIQ system is booked out until November, with ex-pats reporting that vouchers disappear in seconds if a cancellation is made.
1 NEWS has spoken to third parties which are making bookings for Kiwis for up to $170 a pop. They include travel agents and contractors overseas.
New Zealander Chris Ruscoe has been living in the US since 2018. He says he’s been trying to secure a voucher for 3 weeks so he can return home to see family, but has had no luck.
“I don't have the time or the funds to go and pay somebody to do that. I think it's extremely unfair, who knows how many of these people are doing it.”
In January 1 NEWS revealed coders were creating programmes to beat the MIQ system, against the terms and conditions of the website. MIQ officials had to make changes to the booking site in an attempt to stop it.
The third parties 1 NEWS has spoken to say they aren’t using bots, just refreshing the MIQ page for up to 30 hours at a time.
Joint head of managed isolation and quarantine Megan Main says if people want to pay another person to help secure a voucher, “that’s their choice.”
“MIQ vouchers are free and people are not able to secure a voucher by paying money. However, if people want to pay someone else to monitor the website for them, that is their choice. They will still have to secure a voucher like any other person.”
“Once the voucher is secured, it cannot be traded or sold as people cannot change anything on the voucher which changes the identity of the traveller.
Ruscoe says that response is “unacceptable”.
“Those comments are nothing short of spectacularly disgraceful. I think it’s the height of ignorance to suggest it’s ok for New Zealanders to be competing against people in India and Bangladesh trying to secure spots, they’re getting paid to do it.”
More to come on 1 NEWS at 6pm