So, just when I thought this whole passport business was done, I get an email from the passport agency. Essentially, the passport business is done because I have my passport and that's all I need. But, the email is simply further proof of this government agency's inadequacy and ineptitude. You'll remember from my last post, that in the midst of my contac the Passport Agency hell, I tried to send them an email to explain my problem. The email never seemed to go through since every time I tried to send it, a window just popped up saying that I didn't have a certain something installed on my computer in order for it to work. However, as I learned from the email I received a few days ago, the email did indeed go through. The text from my email to the passport agency:
I renewed my passport several weeks ago. I received my new
passport with a typo in my middle name. I immediately sent it back in
with the correction forms filled out. According to your website,
additional passport photos are not needed if the last passport was
issued within 90 days. A couple of days ago, I received a letter saying
that I needed to submit additional passport photos in order for my
application to be processed. Again, going by your website this should
not be the case. In addition, passport photos cost money and, since
this was your mistake, I shouldn't have to pay the extra money for
additional passport photos since the ones I just submitted are less than
90 days old. I have tried to reach you by telephone regarding this
problem, but "due to abnormally high caller volume", I have not been
able to get through in any of my numerous attempts. Perhaps a separate
phone number, or at least a separate menu option should be made
available for people who actually have problems with their passport
application so they're not just grouped in with all of the people who
are just checking their status. As you can probably tell, I'm getting
extremely frustrated with this whole situation and the fact that your
mistake has required a lot more effort on my part and has been extremely
inconvenient and despite my best efforts, I'm having so much trouble
getting your mistake fixed.
Your prompt reply will be greatly appreciated.
I attempted to send this email about a week before I received my passport. I don't know when it actually went through. Given the troubles I've had in dealing with the Agency and the issues at hand, you might realize how entertaining the following email was to me, especially when I received it just a couple of days ago - over a week since my initial email and several days after I actually received my passport:
Thank you for contacting the National Passport Information Center.
In general, new passport photos do not have to be submitted if a
re-write is requested within 90 days of issuance. If the agency is
requesting them, however, they will need to be submitted.
For further information, please refer to our website
www.travel.state.gov or call (877) 487-2778, for TDD/TTY users
1-888-874-7793 (Mon-Fri 8:00AM to 10:00PM ET; excluding federal
holidays). If you need to contact us again by email, please include all
prior messages/correspondence in your reply so we can review what has
previously taken place.
National Passport Information Center
What I love about this email response is: 1) the amount of time it took to send such a generic response, 2) their referring me to the very website that I had referred to in my original email, 3) their ludicrous suggestion that I contact them by phone when it was the difficulty in phone contact that drove me to email them in the first place and 4) their apparent refusal to acknowledge that they may have made a mistake and that I was, in fact, right in not needing to send them passport photos.
As I said, the passport business is essentially done because I have my passport. But, given the nature of this email, I now feel the need to send them a good, old-fashioned letter to explain the many problems with their agency. Do I think my letter will change anything? No. But, it will make me feel better.