Letter: Passport promises

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The Independent Culture

Passport promises

Sir: I thought of John Major today. Didn't you bring us the Charter Mark logo which adorns, among other things, the Passport Office information leaflet?

Until recently I was uncertain of what this strange symbol was supposed to represent. Now, however, all is revealed.

There are six regional Passport Offices which all have the same telephone number (0870-5210410). This enables them to put on a single recorded message which informs us how they'd really love to speak to us but they're all so terribly busy at the moment. I found this rather puzzling since their leaflet entreats us to "ring the office to discuss the matter". Those with a serious amount of spare time may wish to complain in writing.

Either way, if you're hoping to take your under-16 year old children, who now need their own passport, abroad with you, you're probably already too late for this summer.

The Passport Office has devised a cunning strategy to prevent such family holidays: first, restrict the availability of the passport application forms to those post offices which require a 30-mile drive; second, take two months to process the renewal; third, employ only 30 people to attempt to deal with all UK enquiries, and finally, ignore all letters of complaint.

Looking closely at the Charter Mark people I see they have no eyes, ears or mouth - difficult, then, to imagine them saying "Sorry, we didn't expect so many people to be going abroad this summer, it's never happened before."