Sunday, January 16, 2011

Screwed by the U.S. Government...

As I posted a way's back, I had to take a trip to Bangkok on the 14th of December, 2010 in order to renew my passport.  It was due to expire January 10th, 2011.  I also mentioned in my posting that due to my financial matters at the time, I was not quite prepared for such an expensive trip and began looking closer at reasons why I had to show up to the Embassy in Bangkok in the first place, since if I had been in the states, all I would have had to do was pop my passport into the mail with the proper fee and I'd get my new passport back in a couple weeks.

But, for reasons that still remain unanswered, I had to incur the rather costly expenses of traveling to Bangkok for a procedure that took approximately 15 to 20 minutes. That's heard it here at "Jim's Quiet Musings..." the U.S. Government required me to travel FOUR HUNDRED SEVENTY-FOUR MILES....or.....SEVEN HUNDRED SIXTY-THREE KILOMETERS for an appointment that took roughly 15 to twenty minutes.  Think that's ridiculous?  READ ain't heard nuthin' yet pilgrim.

As I was leaving the Embassy, a rather pleasant gentleman told me to first expect an e-mail telling me my new passport was ready, then I could expect to receive it in the mail in another week.  These were his exact words.

I returned home, a little worse off for the wear as my wallet took a serious hit for this little excursion...something I really didn't need at the time.  But, as promised, I received the e-mail from the U.S. Embassy notifying me my new passport was ready and to expect it in the mail within a week.

This is where the really big problem started...

I don't have any trust in the Thai Postal Service anyway...they tend to do things in the typical unorthodox, corrupt, third world country, Southeast Asian way.  They either rip you off by rifling through your packages and stealing whatever they want, or they treat your mail as if it were garbage.  The postal delivery man here in the Patong area will leave packages and large envelopes for me that won't fit into the mailbox, on the table in my little Nipa Hut.  Right out in the open where anybody can just walk up, grab the package or envelope and walk off with it.  What they should do is simply pop a notice into the mailbox that my mail is important to them and they have it safe and secure in the post office for me to pick up.

But hey, this is Thailand...

After ten days or so of not seeing anything on the table in my Nipa Hut when I returned home from school, I fired off an e-mail to the U.S. Embassy telling them I feared the worst, that the Thailand Postal Service had stolen my new passport.

The news I received in return was a total shock...

Dear Mr. Anderson,
When you applied for a new passport did you purchase an envelope for us to return your passport via Thai post?

Your passport is located in our office, available for pickup.  Please advise if you purchased an envelope, we will need the tracking number of the envelope located on your receipt.

Our apologies for the misunderstanding,
American Citizen Services

Had I purchased an envelope for them to send my passport back to me?


I wrote them a rather acerbic, passive / aggressive, mildly sarcastic e-mail in return, which said in gist that there was no information about it on the Embassy's website when I downloaded the form to fill out for renewal or when I applied for an Embassy appointment online and nobody at the Embassy said anything about my having to purchase an envelope so they could mail it back to me.  Then I added a rather lengthy, itemized list of the expenses I incurred traveling from my home to Bangkok and back, including transportation costs, meals, drinks, taxi fares, a night in a hotel, more taxi fares, the fee for my renewal, which was a whopping $110.00 U.S., or 3,380 baht, more taxi fares and the return trip home.  

Then I added, "And now you want me to pay for an envelope so you can mail me my passport?"

"Fine," I said in closing..."Tell me where to send the money and I will send the money to you for the cost of the envelope."

But, again to my surprise...the FINAL INSULT in their return e-mail:

Dear Mr. Anderson,

Thank you for your email, arrangements to have a passport mailed must have been made at the time of application.  We understand your situation and have several options available for your consideration.

A friend or family member may pick up your passport on your behalf.  They will need your old passport and a letter, signed by you, and with the name of the friend or family member in the body of the letter, authorizing them to pick up your passport on your behalf.

We routinely conduct consular outreaches in the Phuket area, we can take your new passport to our next consular outreach, where you can pick it up in person, or have a friend or family member pick it up on your behalf.  Our next Consular Outreach will be Wednesday, March 16th.

We are able to hold your new passport for as long as necessary, you may pick it up on your next trip through Bangkok.

Please advise if you would like us to bring your new passport to our consular outreach in Phuket on March 16th.


American Citizen Services

Well, I gotta say...that one hit me like a ton of bricks.  I wrote them back and told them I have no family and although I do have friends, none of them live anywhere near Bangkok.  I also added that I could not wait for the Consular Outreach in Phuket, since I needed to have a new passport for my February appointment with immigration when my non-immigrant B visa expires.  

My only recourse?  

I have to return to Bangkok.  

At best, this will cost me roughly three thousand three hundred baht, covering transportation costs and taxi fares.  I plan to pack enough food with me so I don't have to use any more money than I have to...but my point here is my being screwed by the U.S. Government...and why?  Why is it no body can give me any answers to my very valid questions either?

Because they are all a bunch of powerful idiots and they themselves don't know the answers.

That's why.   



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