A MUM-of-two lost a staggering £1,400 and had to scrap a family holiday for her dying relative – all because a passport mix-up meant her baby
A MUM-of-two lost a staggering £1,400 and had to scrap a family holiday for her dying relative – all because a passport mix-up meant her baby daughter couldn’t go.
Rachel Brindle from Sheldon, Birmingham, was devastated to miss the special family trip to Turkey due to Passport Office delays.
An enormous backlog built up from Covid meant Rachel’s little one-year-old daughter didn’t have a passport to travel abroad.
The mum applied for her toddler’s document weeks in advance and hounded the Passport Office for four months to chase it up, but with no luck.
The family-of-four – including Rachel, her partner, and her children aged one and three – had no choice but to skip the extended family’s important getaway.
They were planning for it to be a 60th birthday surprise for their kids’ grandmother who has terminal cancer.
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Now Rachel is speaking out with a stark warning to other sunseekers after forgoing the holiday, which could have been the grandma’s last.
The 35-year-old described the “nightmare” to Birmingham Live as she called the Passport Office constantly, wrote a letter of complaint to the Ombudsman and even contacted her MP.
The holiday hell also gave her motivation to publicly call out the Passport Office (HMPO).
She said: “It’s not for myself. It’s not from a selfish point of view.
“It’s more to raise awareness and maybe HMPO can look at this and think of ways to communicate with people who are waiting.”
But as a customer service manager herself, Rachel added her sympathies for the struggling department.
She said: “I really feel sorry for the call handlers and the agents that are on the calls.
“They can’t tell you anything and they are at the front line and receive all the flak.
“They can tell you as much as we can see on our [online] tracker really.
“People call and wait hours on end and make multiple phone calls. My phone bill was an extra forty six pound that month for all the calls and I wasn’t actually getting through to anybody.”
Since Rachel spoke to her local paper, HMPO apologised for the lengthy delay and promised to get her the missing paperwork.
But her story is just one of many Brits battling with the department to get their passports sorted for trips away.
Some families have been waiting since March for their new passports because thousands of new applications and staff shortages have led to huge delays.
The government has confirmed that they are cutting jobs in the civil service by 91,000 over the next three years, which will affect the Passport Office.
New research issued by the Labour party means this would result in 8,000 fewer passport applications being processed a day.
So the Passport Office has advised holidaymakers not to book anything until they are sure they have a valid passport.
There are even certain days of the week which will make your passport application more likely to fail.
In the event you are stranded by the department and face losing heaps of hard-earned cash, Martin Lewis said there are some things you can do.
The finance expert urged holidaymakers affected by passport delays to check for compensation, refunds and vouchers.
He says it is unlikely to be able to get money back from travel companies but you should ask your holiday provider if it can offer any alternatives.
A HM Passport Office spokesperson said: “Staff are processing approximately 250,000 passport applications each week and between March and May 98.5% of applications were completed within 10 weeks.
“But we cannot compromise security checks and people should apply with plenty of time prior to travelling.
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“Since April 2021, we’ve clearly stated that people should allow up to ten weeks when applying for their passport to factor in the increased demand, which has seen 5 million people delay their passport application due to the pandemic.
“An expedited service is available at no additional cost to help the small percentage of people whose applications take longer than ten weeks to receive their passports before they travel.”
The parent has warned other Brits about the delays[/caption]
The one-year-old didn’t have a passport to travel[/caption]
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