Letter: Live voices, please

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The Independent Online
Sir: Further to Jonathan Sinclair Carey's letter (30 July), I am an American citizen who has resided in Great Britain for 14 years. Last week I telephoned the French Embassy to inquire whether I needed a visa to visit France, being 99 per cent sure one was not required. The visa query telephone number had been changed to an 0898 number. I rang it and listened to a lengthy 'menu' - I chose 'pot luck' and got the wrong answer. After returning to the 'menu' and still not hearing my situation offered, I hung up with no answer to my query, after three minutes.

I then rang the French Tourist Office, which was incessantly busy for the 10 minutes that I tried. Finally, I thought of ringing my own embassy, asking the operator to pass me on to someone who could tell me about French visa requirements for American citizens. I could hear the live passport office woman looking up the reply before she courteously passed it on to me.

What's next, 0898-999 for tourists?

Yours sincerely,


New Malden, Surrey