For the sake of your sanity, your respect for me, and the time youll never ever get back, please dont feel the need to read this. Really. Dont. Its just a very long And then she said and then I said saga. It just made me so angry, and I need to note it all down somewhere in case I ever get the time and/or energy to write a long pissy letter on the subject. Thank you.
A seven-day guarantee.
Thats what I had to go for in the end. A seven-day guaranteed passport service.
See, I had to go for the seven-day guarantee, because 10 days after that appointment, I was due to leave the country, and I wanted to give myself that little bit of wiggle room. So I applied for a 7-day guaranteed delivery, which cost half as much again as the normal 2-3 three week delivery. It would be fine, the people at the passport office said. Fine.
This Thursday, the Thursday seven days after my appointment, I arrived home and checked the postbox, and discovered there was no passport, no mention of anyone trying to drop off a passport, no nothing.
I rang the 24-hour-passport phoneline thing, and after five minutes of button pressing and waiting and five minutes of very tiredly explaining that I was waiting for a 7-day passport and hadnt got it and no one seemed like theyd tried to deliver it and then five minutes more of waiting and being passed to a different department and then being patched through to a courier, which was closed, I went to bed, and simply hoped that it would be delivered on Friday.
On Friday, arriving home very late from work, I discovered it was as yet undelivered. I phoned the passport office, explained that I had no passport, and no, no calling card either. So they put me through to their seven-day department, and from there put through to the couriers, who were closed.
The courier company opened earlyish in the morning, I noted from their answerphone message, so I went to bed, exhausted from a big fuckoff week, and set my alarm.
When I phoned, crack of dawn, hungover on the first day of lie-in Ive had in a month, and after five minutes of button pressing, seven minutes of explaining and eight minutes on hold, I got through to the courier company, at last.
I was told that theyd had the passport since Wednesday, yes, as Id also been told by the Passport office, but that my flat falls within a mandatory signature area, and that the courier hadnt been able get one, and had left. I asked why they hadnt left a calling card. They didnt seem to know, and said that maybe the delivery guy couldnt see the letterbox (theyre next to the door), or couldnt work out which one to use (theyre numbered) but said they could offer a same day delivery (at unspecified time), on Saturday, for somewhere between 20 and forty-five pounds extra.
At this point I got quite cross. I had already paid almost £80 for a guaranteed one week service. And now not only was it 2 days over that, but they wanted somewhere between twenty and 45 quid to get it to me at all. Oh, no, hang on, they were offering next day delivery, but that was on Monday. I pointed out the Monday wasnt the next day, but they didnt seem to care. Also, Im supposed to be on a flight first thing Monday, I said, so the logistics got a bit complicated, didnt they think?
Since they were late in delivering, I said, and hadnt bothered to leave a calling card, I said that it had to be delivered that day, else I couldnt travel, but that I didnt want to pay any more for it.
They said a manager would phone me back in 40 minutes. An hour later, she phoned. She was, and I feel hunted by them now, South African. Good Morning, she said. She realised I was aggreived, she said, but she was only trying to help me and could organise a delivery for some point that same day for twenty pounds, now would I like to pay with credit or debit card?
I asked why the delivery guy hadnt left a calling card telling me I should ring on Thursday. They werent allowed, she said. I live in a high-fraud-risk area, and theyre not allowed to leave calling cards for flats. Well that makes sense if theres only one communal slot I said, but we have clearly individual, locked boxes, why could they not leave a note? Because theyre not allowed, she said, and she understood I was aggreived, and did I want to pay by credit or debit card.
Well, how was I ever meant to know that theyd tried to deliver? I asked. Because, she said, theyd sent a letter. But But, but, but the letter would go into the letterbox, I said. Why couldnt they therefore have put a calling card into an envelope, if thats so much safer, and dropped it into the letterbox – because if theyre going to post a letter there anyway – which is obviously going to take the whole thing over the 7-day guarantee anyway.
She asked me if Id like to pay by credit or debit card. She kept telling me that she was only trying to help and she was only doing her job. I caved, and read the long number from the middle of my card, and the expiry date, and the security code. Then I asked her if they made a lot of money from suddenly having to do same-day deliveries for people who thought they were getting a 7-day service.
And she started shouting that I was accusing her of stealing from me, and that none of the money went into her account and she was only doing her job and only trying to help me and I had no right to accuse her of stealing, and at this point I caved in to the tiredness and the stress and the money-worry and burst into floods of tears and the whole thing got very undignified indeed.
7 hours later, the passport safely delivered and signed for (I need to see some photographic ID Right. Well, the only photographic ID I have is in that envelope youre delivering. If you hand it to me I can show you my photographic ID But I cant hand it to you until Ive seen some photographic ID Well, um, hang on. Um. Um?) I stopped worrying. Or at least stopped worrying about that. Im going to France (again) tomorrow. And everything, therefore, is going to be lovely.
Thank fuck you only have to do this every ten years, thats all Im saying. I really dont think I could take the pressure otherwise. Or the expense. Or the loss of bodily fluid from the face region.