Letter: Cost of access to land of the free

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Sir: I am an American citizen who has resided in Great Britain for 12 years. Today I telephoned my embassy to double-check whether a British travelling companion would need a visa to visit the States, my being 99 per cent certain one was not required.

The British operator refused to answer this basic question, saying she did not know and referring me to an embassy '0891' number. At peak rate, 48p per minute, I listened to a lengthy introduction before learning a visa was not required.

Quite frankly, I am outraged that my embassy would charge for this basic visa information. That should be funded by American taxpayers in the name of promoting international relations. May I suggest that police constables now charge for answering the questions of American tourists? You'd make millions.

Yours sincerely,


London, W1

27 July