U.S. Passport Agency / Expedited and overnighted passports
I had an existing valid Passport, got married, and found out that a family member in England is ill. They're 92, my family hasn't gotten to visit since 2004, and I'm pregnant in the last month of my second trimester. This month is my last window to visit this family member for a very long time and their illness has us all concerned that this trip will be the last time we get to see them.
I tried playing by all of the Agency's rules. I got my documentation together for changing the name on my passport to my new married name, submitted it, paid all of the expedite fees and overnight fee's almost a month ago and I've had no luck in obtaining my passport.
The rest of my family of 5 is set to travel in 4 days and if nothing is rectified for me before then I will be separated from my husband and children for almost a month and I will miss seeing the ill family member forever. I'm losing the 1,000$ it cost for my airline ticket and as far as I'm concerned right now, the Passport Agency has stolen roughly 150$ from me for a service they failed to provide. If this were any other regular business, I could take them to small claims court for the fee's I've paid since they haven't provided the service, and the fee's I'll have to pay to move my flight should I be lucky enough to receive my passport before I can't travel due to my pregnancy.
I followed up on the website to check up on my application's status 12 days after it was submitted to allow for the fact that there were weekends in there. They had and continue to have my passport under "Routine Service" status on their website and not Expedited and overnighted as I paid for. So I called their toll-free phone number at [protected]. I had to call repeatedly because their system is so inadequate that most of the time it told me that the call volume was too high and that they couldn't help me at this time. The first time I managed to get on hold with the agency to wait for a representative to help me, I waited on hold 45 minutes. They told me they were sending a message to Washington D.C. where my passport was being processed for an urgent upgrade because I was going to be traveling in 13 days. I later found out that the urgent msg they sent on that Monday wasn't even read until the following Sunday.
I waited patiently for 8 days before calling back because my online application status still hadn't changed. It was still showing as a "Routine Process" by that 8th day. The call I made to them on this 8th day I was told they were issuing an urgent same day issue request. I was also advised that with that request, it might at least help me get my passport to an Approved status so I could go to my local regional office and get a Re-issue with the appropriate documentation. That same day issue request happened 3 days ago and my status hasn't changed, they have all my documentation so I can't go to my local regional office and re-apply for a same-day issued passport, and the representative's I have dealt with today have been hit or miss.
The first person I spoke with told me to phone back later in the day to check on my status. When I phoned back, I was disconnected without ever getting to talk to someone after waiting 30 minutes on hold. I phoned back 3 or 4 times before I could get on hold again and waited another 30 minutes before I could speak to someone. The representative that took my call this time was rude from the first second of the call. She asked for my locator number, something only one other representative has ever asked me for during this whole process. I offered my social security number which is what everyone else had used to locate my file previously with that one exception. She proceeded to lecture me about the importance of the locator number and when I started to offer the other information that the previous representative's had asked me for, she began speaking over me. The entire call proceeded that way. I couldn't say anything without her cutting me off and talking over me. I continued to be polite and calm throughout the phone call despite her ranting about how she answer's calls like mine from 6 a.m. in the morning and her inferences that all of the calls she handles , including my own, are with people who are rude troglodytes to her. As hard as it was to keep my temper in check, I continued to remind myself that I have been in a position answering calls similar to hers and forced myself to try and empathize with her. When her tone continued to be abusive and she threatened to disconnect my call despite all of my attempts to be civil to her, I did to her exactly what she'd been doing to me the whole time. I began speaking and this time when she tried to talk over me, I just continued to speak. I thought it was important that someone finally point out to her that what she was doing was rude and antagonistic. And while I understand that she's just a messenger doing her job, I'm just an applicant in a very frustrating situation trying to follow the instructions I'm given by the previous representative. Never mind the fact that every representative you speak to tells you something different from the last. It's all very confusing and a bit upsetting. An applicants confusion is no reason to be demeaning or offensive as she was. She was so unprofessional, it left me feeling uneasy as to what she was capable of doing in regards to my passport application.
Putting me in such an uncomfortable position motivated me to call again to check on my application. The next representative I spoke with was patient, kind, and compassionate but that's it. Apparently, other than sending emails to the agency that's processing your application, these representative's don't have much they can do for people who haven't received their passport and are traveling within 7 days. I was told to call back later this evening to check and see if my passport might reach the approval status. I phoned several times till I could wait on hold for about 40 minutes to talk to another representative. This representative looked at my file, noted that I'd phoned 3 times, and told me not to call again today. He told me that repeatedly phoning wasn't going to help my status get approved any faster. I told him that I was just trying to do what the previous representative had told me to do, and that I was told to keep checking on my status to see if I could qualify for a Re-Issue. He made some snarky comment about how I was certainly following instructions well. At least he wasn't out right rude to me like the other lady had been.
This has been a horrible process. I had never given it much thought before, but of all the federal agencies that exist, this was the one that I had the most respect for. I've had to deal with them in the past for several expedited passports and they've always been very respectable and done a great job. These error's on their part, their rude representatives, and the impotent measures in place to assist applicants have taken my respect for them to an all new low. Good luck should you ever find yourself having to deal with them.