Thursday, December 6, 2018

Google's ESTA Problem


I teach students about the Visa Waiver Program. I don't, however, go into the fact that individuals hoping to travel to the US on the VWP must complete an Electronic System for Travel Authorization application or ESTA. I may change that going forward, and here's why.

The official ESTA application process costs $14. But according to this report from the BBC, Google ads for ESTA services have led would-be travelers to pay $80 for the same service.

Because of the BBC's investigation, Google is trying to prevent price-inflated ESTA services from popping up as ads in response to the "most common search terms," but the sites "will still appear in the search results."

Interestingly, the same problem exists with programs in Australia and Canada, and Google is working to resolve similar inflated-price advertisements.

I can see this leading to interesting class discussion.


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