Thought I’d share my letter of complaint to the Passport Agency, just in case it gets “lost”:
I have been helping my elderly mother with her passport renewal application. My mother is 79 and now has mid-stage Alzheimer’s-related dementia so is unable to process complicated paperwork like this.
Due to her having been categorically failed by her NHS GP and local Social Services Department, I am hoping to take her to India, where she can be cared for in a culturally-appropriate environment, which is why I needed to renew her passport.
I elected for her passport to be delivered to her by courier but, as she is so forgetful and cannot process information very easily, she was out when the courier tried to deliver her new passport. She was sent a letter by DX explaining how she could take delivery of her new passport. She promptly forgot that she had this letter. So far, so easily remedied.
I tried to arrange online for a redelivery but DX are unable to deliver to me ( a different residential address) or my husband (a different person at a work address.) Clearly, my disabled, elderly mother cannot take delivery at her work address as she does not have one.
I then called the DX office to arrange for delivery, explaining the situation. At first your call centre representative did not want to listen to my explanation of my mother’s issue, a common problem with Government employees, I find, but then she was quite helpful. She explained that I could collect the passport this morning at the Eccleston Square Passport Office if I produced a letter of authorisation, signed by my mother; two utility bills as proof of my mother’s address and photo ID for me. As my mother cannot work a computer, I produced a letter of authorisation and asked her to sign it, which she did.
On arrival at your Passport Office this morning, I was told that my mother’s signature was not exactly the same as that on her passport and that they thought that someone else had forged her signature. I assured the rude, abrupt “customer services” employee that this was not the case and that she had signed both documents herself in her own hand. I even produced my mother’s expired passport to show that the three signatures were the same, and explained that my mother has dementia and therefore her signatures might well not exactly match, although to my untrained eye in this case they did.
More surly denials. In fact this was irrelevant, as surely a courier would not have checked for matching signatures in such detail? Your customer services assistant was very rude and abrupt and did not seem to want to listen to me. In fact it was my word against hers that my mother had actually signed both the application form and the letter of authorisation. This woman made me wait, without explanation, until her more conciliatory colleague confirmed that both signatures did in fact match. Then she pushed the passport in its envelope towards me under the counter silently, and with a sneer. I had to check that I could indeed take away the passport.
I was very upset to have been treated like this. Is life not difficult enough for those of us who have to care for elderly relatives with dementia without being impugned and doubted in this way? Is this really the way that your government wishes to treat people like me who give up our time and effort for free and are worn down by faceless, unaccountable bureaucracy? How, exactly, was I supposed to prove that my mother had indeed signed both documents? By remembering to take a photograph of her signing them, with a date imprinted on the shot? No doubt I would have been accused of faking that. What if your over-reaching jobsworth employee on a personal powertrip had decided to retain my mother’s passport? What recourse would I have had then?
This attitude is really disgusting and unacceptable in so-called “customer service” staff who are, after all, paid by the taxpayer to serve the public.
I would urge you to ensure that your staff treat those who pay their secure salaries with a little more respect and compassion in the future. And might I suggest that if you are going to make cuts, that this staff member is the first to be cut?