Well as per my post on February 16th it was with some trepidation that I went ahead and applied for Oscar Changs first British passport.
My fears sadly came true and in a way that I could hardly imagine.
It’s 9 days since I walked into the British Embassy in Bangkok with an emergency situation that required me to leave Thailand with my son as soon as possible.
I had applied for the passport 3 weeks previous on the 24th of February. This according to the web site is the first time you can start tracking your child’s passport which takes up to 6 weeks to be completed. Slight hitch, you need a bar code number on your application to track the passport. I did not get this memo having thought the receipt and DHL tracking slip I was handed at the embassy was all I needed. Fatal mistake.
So I went directly to the Bangkok Embassy to track my passport as the online service was not going to work without the bar code number.
After a 1 hour and 55 minute wait because only 1 window was open I was told sure they will look into it and get my passport sent to Bangkok. But when? Hmm they will let me know the next day. In the meantime I should also contact the passport office in the UK via phone and email and give them the same information and tell them that this was an emergency case.
On the phone to the UK passport office I’m told no it wasn’t possible to get a tracking number for my passport or information on when it’s arriving because another company deals with this. They also don’t have a phone number for said company they can only send an email. In an emergency I ask? Yes they reply. Not only can they only send an email but the company has 72 hours to reply to my request. Really? Yes I’m told. Ok.
Tuesday arrives and no news, Wednesday morning I decide to take another trip to the Embassy, this time I’m given a business card with a direct line and contact number of a consular officer. I’m feeling optimistic.
Thursday morning there is a flurry of activity and I’m told yes the passport can be diverted to the embassy and they will tell me on Friday when it should arrive after all it’s been over 3 weeks and no additional material has been requested for the passport.
Friday arrives and with it a high temperature for Oscar Chang and the beginning of an uncomfortable bout of hand, foot and mouth disease. We are confined to out hotel for the next 4 days waiting for the weekend to pass and hopeful for news on Monday. We have now been in Bangkok a week, for anyone who’s counting that’s 168 hours, twice the amount of time I was told that an officer from the passport agency would be in touch.
It’s now Tuesday afternoon, here is the stinger or stingers rather. My consular agents voicemail is now full, they have not replied to my messages or email since Thursday, no one at the passport agency has emailed or called me and then out of the blue! Caller from the British Consulate in Thailand ” Hello is this Alison? No it’s Anna. Oh, I’m looking for someone else. sorry. Did you leave a voicemail on my phone? I have left several voicemail on someone’s phone not sure if it was yours but as you are on the phone lets talk about my case…..” With this highly embarrassing opportunity arising I launch into a plea for help explaining all of the above. The reply is apologetic and let me get someone to call you back.!!!???? They did call back spoke to me like a 5 year old asked if I needed a doctor for my son and did I have friends to talk to. Are you serious? I need you to find my sons passport in less than 72 hours in an emergency and get me out of here to the safety of my friends and family. Oh but while you’re at it how about paying for my hotel room and a few therapy sessions, maybe then I might forgive and forget!
It’s now 10 days in to this grueling situation.
Never mind that this is an emergency, never mind that my son just turned 5 months old, never mind he got sick, never mind I am living in a pricey hotel, never mind that I have received 2 phone calls in 10 days to assist me in my emergency, lets focus on one thing. I’m British and I have paid for this service. When was the last time you paid for something that takes 6 weeks to arrive, no one knows where it is and no one replies to any of your queries. Who is responsible for this debacle, who can I give a bad review too? Is there a review site for government agency’s? I think there should be. After all we pay for them and they provide a “service”. Right?
Please feel free to share your stories and respond. I’m sure I’m not the first or the last to be put through this unprofessional and irresponsible circus.
Let’s see how much longer the ineptitude continues.
Oscar Chang on the other hand has decided to look on the bright side and use his time wisely, he sprouted his first tooth and learned how to crawl. Seriously, this is how long this is taking.
More updates on my twitter account @mywelltraveledfriend.