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By Jordan Bond from RNZ
One website is trying to capitalize on the difficulty of booking an isolation and managed quarantine (MIQ) room by offering to do so for $ 2,415 per person, and is increasing its prices daily.
A number of websites and online entrepreneurs offer their expertise, many using a coding script to partially automate the process.
They charge varying amounts, from $ 150 to thousands. The current price of one is $ 2,415, which rose from $ 1,200 yesterday. A man does it for free.
MIQ said the system allows these third-party reservation services.
MIQ rooms are currently booked until the end of November, but sometimes when some people cancel their reservations, a small number will appear.
Demand is so high that these new available rooms disappear in seconds.
Many people refresh the page every minute, hoping that a new room appears and that they can complete the reservation process – which includes providing your personal information – before anyone else.
However, more and more commonly used is a short “script” which is available for free, which constantly scans and updates the reservation website, alerts users of new rooms and automatically fills in their details immediately.
This gives users of the script a few precious seconds in advance to try and get the reservation before someone manually checks and applies.
MIQ “strongly advises against” the use of the script. It refers to it as a “notification service” which is accessible to the public.
He says the Managed Isolation Allocation System is designed to give people an equal chance of getting a voucher, and all fully automated “bots” are shut down.
MIQ co-director Megan Main said the reservation system had worked “extremely well”.
The difficulties in securing space were due to high levels of demand for a product with limited supply, she said.
“The managed isolation allowance system is designed to give users a level playing field to get a voucher. The system allows third parties to book on behalf of people who are less comfortable with the technology, including travel agents and family members.
“As with all aspects of our response to Covid-19, we continue to review our policies and procedures to ensure they remain fit for purpose and to ensure the safety of our community at large. This includes exploring ‘options, including the waiting list and finding ways to free up as many spaces as possible at conveniently spaced intervals.
“It should be noted that even with some form of a waiting list, there would still be insufficient places to meet the demand to come to New Zealand.”