My experience with our RMA was horrible, whilst we got the desired result, it all seemed very non-committal after the point of payment.The "upfront" payment is paid into a clients' or trust account and held in that account until the work is completed, so the incentive is 100% there to get the work done on time as these funds cannot be released until it is. If the work has not been done and the client requests that the contract is ended, the RMA must return any funds deposited that relate to incomplete tasks.
I think it is completely wrong to suggest that "all" RMAs take on too many clients just to "get $$$$". Maybe a few do this, but there are good operators and bad operators in all industries and reputable professionals want to do a good job for all their clients. In my experience most RMAs will go 'above and beyond' for clients rather than do the bare minimum. Of course, in a highly regulated environment, we need to stick to the rules and are governed by legislation in this. Illegal and/or unregistered operators will have no such scruples.
I tell all my potential partner visa clients that if they want to spend the time to do all the background research then of course they could lodge their own application and will likely be successful. However, the number of questions that get asked regularly on this and other forums suggest that the available information is not necessarily easy to find, accurate or helpful. My job is to make the process easier and less stressful, particularly if the clients have better things to do with their time.
I can say with 100% accuracy until the point we paid, our RMA did not respond to us once, not even once, from the first time we got in touch with email or phone call. Can you imagine yourself countless emails and phone call followups for updates going unanswered for a period of 2 years?
Another disappointment was that we had a very clear and verbal agreement that the RMA will provide me monthly status updates (which correct me if I'm wrong, is reasonable to ask for according to the RMA expected Code of Conduct) at the start of each month which again not even once was done and i constantly had to call 2-3 times or email 1-2 times to remind them for 11 months...
Whilst I admit there was 1 particular situation where they did come through on an unexpected minor complication (wifes surname changed after we married and the HAP ID generated contained her maiden name at time of lodgement) the rest we could have done ourselves. The most frustrating part was not knowing and losing that trust/faith in the RMA representing us correctly.
Perhaps we just got unlucky but having spoken to other people at work, functions etc there was a trend that most people were in similar shoes to us which begs the question as to why.
I think having someone represent you is certainly a nice to have but not essential. I'm confident its a difficult position to keep up with constant migration changes, volume of applications etc but i strongly feel that there still needs to be a bonus incentive for a successful application.