I’m reporting the following as a cautionary warning to anyone needing a passport for foreign travel any time soon.
Our son and daughter-in-law planned a 10th anniversary trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico several months ago. The DIL, who is incredibly anal about never waiting until the last minute for anything (one wonders why she married into this family), went to the post office to renew her passport six weeks ago. The lady who waited on her asked when her trip was, the DIL said six weeks, the lady said it should take no more than four weeks, the DIL (her anality kicking in) said I want to pay the extra $75 to expedite and get it here in two weeks, and I want to pay the extra $15 to have it overnighted. The lady told her that all that was unnecessary, but it was her money.
After four weeks had passed with no passport, the DIL tried to call the number given to her as a number to use to check the status. She would call, get an automated message telling her that all agents were busy and to stay on the line and her call would be answered in the order in which it was received. She would stay on the line for 10-15 minutes then get a message that said there were an unusually large number of calls right then, please call back later, goodbye, and would then disconnect. She went through this process a couple of dozen times over two days, then hied herself back to the passport place at the post office.
After spending almost an hour in a long line (while managing two toddlers), the agent told her that there was nothing that could be done there but that she should call Kay Baily Hutchison’s (KBH) office. KBH is one of the U.S. Senators from Texas. The DIL called KBH and talked to the staff. They took her number and said many people were having the same problem and that they would get to work on it. After a week, with her trip looming a few days away, the DIL called KBH again. The staff told her they were aware of her problem and working on it, but that all their efforts were going into the problems of people leaving the next day, not the next week. Don’t call back, they said, we’re working on it.
As the day of the trip (May 30th) drew near, the DIL happened to hear of someone else heading to Mexico who had encountered a similar problem. She called this person only to find her gone, but her mother told the DIL that her daughter had gone to the airport early with a certified copy of her birth certificate and her driver’s license and had been given a temporary travel visa to Mexico. The DIL called American Airlines (the airline on which they had their tickets) and asked about a temporary travel visa. The person at AA told her that they had never heard of such a thing.
The DIL waited for Tuesday, the day before leaving, and received no passport. What she did get was MD and me showing up to babysit the kids in finest grandparent fashion while she and son were gone.
Early Wednesday morning, I took them to the airport a couple of hours early so they could see what they could figure out. They talked to the agent at AA who told them she would let them board the plane with the certified birth certificate and driver’s license, but couldn’t guarantee that the customs agents in Mexico would accept it. She told them that if they had trouble getting in to Mexico that they should slip the agent a $50 and said agent would probably let them through. She told them the big problem would be getting back, and that they should be prepared to bribe the agent in Puerto Vallarta to let them back on the plane to the U.S. Once in the U.S., she said, it would be up to the U.S. Customs and Immigration officer as to whether or not they would be hassled and to what degree.
They left yesterday, got through Mexican customs without a hitch, and are enjoying their 10th anniversary today.
I’ll give a report as to what happens when they come back late next Sunday afternoon. Keep your fingers crossed.
This is just another instance of the incompetence of our own government and its employees. The DIL wasted her
$85 $90 ($75 for expedited and $15 for overnight); do you think she has a prayer getting it back? Is it even worth trying? And her long-awaited 10th anniversary trip is being somewhat marred by what she has gone through already and the stress that is weighing on her wondering what’s going to happen when she tries to come back. And do you think one single government employee gives a rat’s hind end about her plight? The incompetence and lack of concern is appalling given the amount of tax money we pay these swine.
The only time I’ve ever found that government employees are actually on the ball is if they’re trying to screw you. In fact, I’ve come up with what I call the Eades Law of Government Hiring. Everyone who is hired by the government is given a lengthy test. The ones found to be abysmally stupid and lazy are directed to the branches of government set up to help people. The ones found to be smart, ambitious, and eager to work are directed to the branches of government set up to hassle people, i.e., the IRS, the FTC, and other ‘regulatory’ outfits. It’s a real shame.
U.S. Passport problems