Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thank You for Calling USCIS

I recently shared my experience while attaining a passport. The circumstance left me looking at government run agencies with nothing less than awe. Awe at how inept they can be run. I now bring you an even more compelling true story from the department of Immigration Services.

The story beings with a call to the 800 line for the department of Immigration customer service. You won't be surprised to find that when the line picked up it was an automated voice service. Annoying, sure but you have to kind of expect it. What I didn't expect was the short duration of the automated system. After affirming that I did in fact want to continue in English and making one other selection I was off to speak with a real live person. I know. I was excited too. To make matters even better, there was almost no delay from the transfer to the representative picking up. Just long enough to get the disclaimer about the phone call being recorded. Here is where the story starts to get weird.

A voice comes on the the other end. It sounds like a real person to me. I can hear breathing and everything. She says her operator ID number and says "according to the prompts you selected, It appears you have a question about a form you filed. Is that correct?" I respond with a quick, yes. I then get an odd listing of all possible forms I could have filed. Followed by a yes or no in the form of a question. For example; "Is your question regarding form 100?"...... "No". Is your question regarding form 101....102.... 103... 200..... 200A?".... "No." I was filing a form 600. So you could see how this would take a while. Finally she gets to my form. I'm so surprised by the hearing the number that I jump to my feet with an excited "YES!". Causing more than a few odd looks from those sitting near me.

Here is what confuses me. We could have saved 5 minutes with a simple, "What form did you file?". When I look back on the phone call, I begin to question myself. Was this really a person on the other end, or just a really good automated system? After establishing the form I filed I am told that all questions regarding form I-600A, must be made via email to the address she is about to provide. Okay. Great. I take down the address, and repeat it back. Yes that's correct.

I send the email, and within a couple moments I get a failure notice telling me the email address is undeliverable. Unbelievable. I call back. Confirm the email address again. There is no mistake. The email address they gave goes nowhere. Which I tell them. They then tell me that I'll have to make an appointment at my "local" office to discuss my questions with an agent.

"Where is the "local" office?".
"Cheyenne." (7 hours away.)
"Great! Lets make an appointment".
"Oh no, you can't do that with us."
"Okay, what's the number?"
"No, you can only make an appointment via the "InfoPass" system online. Here is how you do that."
"Thanks."

I go to the web address, click the link listed and put in my zip code. Up comes the following message.

INFOPASS IS CURRENTLY NOT AVAILABLE IN YOUR AREA. PLEASE CALL 1-800 FOR MORE ASSISTANCE.

3 comments:

Mookie said...

I had to take a few minutes to compose myself. I fell off my chair, spilled my coffee on myself, and had to wipe away the tears that came from laughing so hard!

Dude, THAT SUCKS. And they wonder why we aren't much for government bureaucracy, when the government can't even direct you to itself!

All In said...

Just another interesting tidbit. I did call the number back. I was then transfered to the "next level" of customer diservice. I was then told that, "INFOPASS IS CURRENTLY NOT AVAILABLE IN YOUR AREA" means that there are no available appointment dates in the next two weeks and that I should try again in two weeks.

Of course that is what that means. Isn't it obvious by the chosen verbage.

renaissanceguy said...

Hi, I have tagged you.

http://renaissanceguy.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/creative-writing-exercise/