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Thread: Stupid passports

  1. #1
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Stupid passports

    The two girls and I needed to renew our passports for November/December travel, so I picked a day to visit the local post office and get it done. To make sure, I checked the USPS website to verify they take the pictures on site, so we didn't have to go chasing all over town unnecessarily. It said they did. And off we went, my wife, the girls and I.

    When we got to the passport room, the lady working the counter gave me a bad vibe. We had forms to fill out, and the other customers had clipboards, but the either ran out or she just didn't feel like offering us one. Then, half way through filling out the form, she asked if we had pictures. I told her, "The website says you do pictures here." She said, "We're out of photo paper. You can go to CVS and get pictures." Fruck.

    So while my wife stayed and held our place in line, I drove the girls three minutes down the road to CVS. The lady there was nice, but had no other counter help so she had to wait on customers in between our photos. Her photos sucked. Our older daughter wore an off-white shirt, and the background was a white screen, so she came out looking like a disembodied head floating in the air. I said we'd see what they say at the post office, the lady said she'd retake them for free if they were rejected.

    Nasty Postal Lady said they were ok, but then she started her fifteen minute break, and there was no one else to pick up the slack. The older daughter caught several Pokemans while we waited, but keeping a 5 year old occupied for more than thirty seconds is more of a challenge. iPhones with a Netflix subscription come in handy.

    NPL came back on duty, but just as she called our name, another Postal Lady came in and offered to help us. Both were talking at us at the same time, and I was ready to just throw the paperwork in the air and walk out. Since the new lady was nice and seemed to know what she was doing, we went with her. Trouble was, she talked way faster than I was able to listen. Between my wife shuffling all the paperwork for three people back and forth, and the Postal Lady talking like an auctioneer, and there being about half as much counter space as needed to write anything, and our five year old getting fidgety and wanting some Jupiter postage stamps, it was getting ugly for me.

    The floating head pictures were not, in fact, acceptable according to the new lady. I told her the other lady said they were, but she ignored me. She's probably dealt with this conflict before. Oh, and we'd forgotten to make sure our five year old's birth certificate was with us, but PL said that was ok, she'd hold the application until we come back. And she said she'd send in the floating head pictures to get the process rolling, but to expect them to be rejected. I was pretty confused by then, so I just let it go.

    Then it was time to hand over money. For my renewal, she said I could use a check or money order. Anticipating the sclerotic technological state of the system, I had actually brought a check along for the purpose. $166. Then to pay for the kids' passports, she said I could use a money order, or credit or debit card, but not a check. I asked, "Which is easier?" Well, if you use a debit card, you have to use it to buy a money order. And pay a fee for the privilege.

    From there, we went to get the pictures re-taken. The CVS lady let Victoria borrow a shirt to get a better picture, by my wife ended up taking the pictures because, well, she's bossy and thought the CVS lady was incompetent. Then we went to lunch, my wife dropped us off, then went to the Health Department to get a duplicate birth certificate for Vanessa because that was faster than looking for one in the house. Yes, that's her thought process.

    She's going back to the post office now to finish up the process. From the time we left home, including lunch, until we got back was four hours.

  2. #2
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stupid passports

    Any clue as to why your passport could be paid for with a check, but not your family?

    That is if I understand the story correctly.
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Stupid passports

    Yes, I gave up on the PO after the first time.
    I'm sure the PO does some things right, but I'm equally sure I don't know what they are.

    Luckily, I've always been reasonably close to a passport center. LA, in by ten passport in hand at 3PM, San Diego, I remember even faster, Tucson (where a lot of the send in passports are actually manufactured), next morning pickup for the baby's passport. They all claim you need to be traveling within some short period, but I tell them I drive and they never took it beyond there. They also claim that you need to make an appointment, but if you just show up they will still process you as long as they have time available.

    None of them seemed particularly rushed, hectic or frantic
    Lines are short, numbers on a screen. The advantages: instant gratification, if anything is not right you can fix it quickly.

    But you pay extra for the service.

    Use a debit card, have to buy a money order? The money immediately leaves your account when you use a debit card.
    These are probably the only money orders the PO still sells.

    I've had two interactions with Nicaraguan officials in the last two months, one aduana, and one at the Alcaldia in Condega to change the name on two bills of sale so I could sell a couple of cows. Both were models of efficiency, even though the Condega experience was 100% handwritten. The bills of sale cost me 35 cords each.

  4. #4
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stupid passports

    Quote Originally Posted by Little Corn Tom View Post
    Any clue as to why your passport could be paid for with a check, but not your family?

    That is if I understand the story correctly.
    You understand correctly. I didn't ask. I think it had to do with them being minors so it's processed some different kind of way, or other place. Or maybe not.

    I've used money orders when buying stuff online from people who don't accept plastic. I think a MO provides some assurance that the funds will be there when the seller cashes it, since for some reason we all buy into the idea that the federal government has an infinite bank account.

  5. #5
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stupid passports

    Thank you...it is all so clear to me now.
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Stupid passports

    Based on your account of getting USA passports and my experience of obtaining a Nicaraguan residency card, it sounds to me like the USA is turning into Nicaragua.

  7. #7
    TRN Science officer bill_bly_ca's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stupid passports

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonh View Post
    I've used money orders when buying stuff online from people who don't accept plastic. I think a MO provides some assurance that the funds will be there when the seller cashes it, since for some reason we all buy into the idea that the federal government has an infinite bank account.
    Canadian Passport office has a big bold sign that states "Cash is not an acceptable method of payment"

    Of course what they are doing is the mitigating the nuisance of cash (Counting, floats, change, deposits and errors) but still funny...
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  8. #8
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stupid passports

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikeh View Post
    Based on your account of getting USA passports and my experience of obtaining a Nicaraguan residency card, it sounds to me like the USA is turning into Nicaragua.
    It is, in more ways than one.

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