to be steamingly furious at the Post Office..(16 Posts)
...for seemingly holding on to my DS's passport application for OVER TWO WEEKS before sending it on to the Passport Office.
Bit of background...big family holiday coming up - my sister and her family are coming over from the states, my brother and his family are coming over from Brazil, and my entire extended family are supposed to be meeting up in Portugal for a family holiday. My mum booked our tickets (mine and DS's) and there was a bit of confusion about dates. So I suddenly realise that it's 4 and a half weeks until we travel, not 6 and a half and run around like a mad thing getting DS's passport application together.
I phoned the Passport Service helpline to see if I should pay for a fast-track passport, and am assured there's absolutely no need, if I use the Post Office check and send I'll definitely get it back in time. I ask about 20 times if she's sure...yes she is.
So get passport checked and sent by Post Office. Today (one week before we're supposed to be travelling) I phone up to check what's happening, and am told that they only received the application on the 23rd, and as it's a first child passport they can't fast-track it. The date stamp on the Post Office thing is 5th June, the Passport Office received it on 23rd June.
AAAAARRRRRRRRRGGH!!! I know that there's times of peak demand, that's why I was so bloody sure to check it would be ok.
So now I'm massively pissed off, as it looks as though I won't get to see my sister, who I see every 3-4 years at most, my brother who I see even less than that, and miss out on the first holiday I've had in YEARS, because the Post Office decided not to bother sending my DS's application in.
Complain, not that it will do a blind bit of good and cross your fingers and toes.
You might still get your DS's passport back in time. We wanted to travel when DS was 4 months old. Had a mild panic as basically, friend who was on the form as DH's reference (which we thought was just a formality) went to France for two weeks and we found out (like you, only called when wondered why 2 weeks before we travelled, we have not received passport despite sending it in in plenty of time) the passport office wanted him to send a letter on company letterhead and signed as well as speak to him to verify DH's identity. If we waited for him to come back, we would not have received the passport on time. We even wanted to cancel application, re-submit it and go through fast track but got told the same thing as you that a child's first passport cannot be fast-tracked. After a lot of kerfuffle, friend managed together what is needed off to passport office and amazingly, we received said passport 4 days later so there is still hope for you.
<angel1976 keeps fingers crossed for Alieight...>
I will be complaining loudly, annoyingly and angrily at the Post Office. Tomorrow though I have to speak to someone in Belfast and beg them on bended knee to fast-track this passport, even though I know they can't do it and are going to say no, it's worth a little ritual humiliation on the teeniest tiniest hope that I may get someone with a heart.
<<rubs shampoo into eyes to make self start crying>>
The thing about the fast-track thing though, is that I'm not sure it's right...according to the IPS website, you can fast-track a child's first passport (one week service), you just can't fast-track your first adult passport.
<<clinging to straws here>>
I was told you cannot fast-track your first passport full stop (adult or child!). But you also can't submit two applications (that's what I was told) so you will have to wait till they cancel your first application, confirm it is not on the system anymore before you can submit your next application... Basically, it's not worth it. Just sit tight and hope it will get to you on time. Who is your or your DH's reference on the application? Make sure they don't hold things up on their end by sitting on the reference... That won't help things!
Have you any actual proof that the passport office only received the application on the 23 June? Or have you just taken their word for it? It might not be the fault of the Post Office.
I only have what the Passport Office told me, which is that the application was received onto their system on 23 June...so I suppose it could equally as easily have sat in a pile in the Passport Office waiting for someone to pull their finger out of their arse process it...
OK now I'm angry at both the Passport Office and the Post Office...
Alieight - I wish you all the luck in the world. You might still get it on time. If I were you, I would call tomorrow and find out which stage they are at with processing it... They should be able to tell you if they are waiting for the reference etc (make sure you get on whoever's case it is to do this!). Let us know how you get on.
Might also be worth asking at the Post Office to speak to the manager and then getting names of more senior people that you can ring up and complain to. Ask for clarification of what their procedure is for when they screw up and a problem is caused, might be that you can find a senior person who has some clout that can call up the passport office and say that they screwed up, so that the application should be accelerated. Also ask for exact clarification of what has happened in this instance and why you were told what you were told, why the delay in sending your application, what is happening now (are they still telling people the same thing even though they screwed up on yours...).
Make sure you have everything written down that you need to get answers to too, so easy to forget to get some critical info when you just try to remember it all!
Also worth getting names of everyone you speak to, start mentioning things like watchdog, the one programme, some of the major newspapers and their write in help pages for this sort of thing (for example I know that the Daily Telegraph on a Saturday have a person you can write to when you have travel problems). and of course, local papers... always embarassing for the post office to be shown up as not providing a service you paid for, might get them to help you too...
Also ask them for names of who you should be sending your request for compensation to - losing money on a holiday (guessing you won't get much back if you can't go this close to the date) and additional for the stress of not getting to your family get together, and of course for the fact you paid them to facilitate your application adn they haven't - when it is all their fault.
have you read the accompanying leaflet for their service - is there anything on there about what happens when things go wrong?
Zipzap - there is absolutely no proof that it was the Post Office that has 'screwed-up'. It May have been but it May also have been The Passport Office. These applications are sent special delivery from the PO so I think they should be able to prove the exact date it was delivered to the passport Office.
Thanks for all your messages...
angel1976 when I phoned this evening it was at the 'waiting for investigation' stage...i.e nothing had been done.
Thanks for the advice zipzap, although I'm not holding my breath on getting any compensation for the lost holiday - the accompanying leaflet says that any compensation (even due to negligence or mistake on the part of the Post Office) is restricted to a refund of the handling charge! Will be complaining anyway, on the basis I'll have nothing better to do, with two weeks booked off work and no holiday to go on .
How does the reference thing work exactly? Do they need a written confirmation from the referee? Is it worth getting him to send it before it's asked for? Or does anyone know what the sequence of events is in processing the application? I've had a passport since I was 5, and my dad was a diplomat so I have literally never ever in my life had to use the Passport Office for anything.
On the happier side, I have found out I can change my flight for £50 up to the day before the flight, but I can't delay it too long as I was only originally going out for a week
Is the passport office near you?
When we were going on holidays DH went to the passport office at 8am and sat there until he was processed.....6 hours later!!!!
Though we don't live far from our local office.
Alieight - that's really terrible. Fingers crossed it will come through in time. I would complain as well and I think zipzap's idea to write down your questions and take names is a really good idea. However, I would not start mentioning Watchdog or newspapers right away. You need to save that as a last resort. People are much more likely to help you if you get them on side.
As someone who deals with the odd complaint I know if you butter someone up a bit and make them think they can help they often do. If they think you're a bit stroppy they won't be interested.
<JoesMummy thinks of all the times she has lost her temper in the bank/on the phone to the gas company/with student loans company/with HMRC... etc and is bit >
For the reference thing they phoned up the person we gave. (but we were getting it as an emergency for health reasons)
Used check and send for precisely this reason recenty and got it back within 2 weeks so amybe it will be on time (was repeat passport though)
Have you asked if you can go there and do it in person (not sure whether you can for first ones)
How awful for you. I found myself in a similar panic situation last summer, except it was my own fault in part, then the Passport Office went on strike just to compound matters. I do agree with Joesmummy - I rang up, trying to make a plea to them to hurry the process along whilst keeping them onside, and I have to say they were very accommodating. With two days left before travel, I was ringing four or five times a day to check on progress - taking the name of the operator each call, and I think the regularity of my calls were the key, in as much as there was no chance of my application being anywhere other than the top of the pile.
I was lucky in the end - the application was processed with only an hour to spare! We stopped off at Peterborough office en route to Stanstead airport.
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