Brits paying £147 for passport have money taken without booking made
Now Passport Office’s fast track service collapses as well: Holidaymakers paying £147 for quick renewals are having money taken but getting no appointment as website crashes
- Some travellers have had the £147 payment taken but not offered a booking
- The issue is a result of the high-traffic website timing-out before confirmation
- It comes as the Passport Office sees 400,000 applications each day in surge
The fast-track service offered by the Government’s Passport Office is taking £147 payments from Brits as they struggle to get their travel documents renewed — without offering them a booking or reply.
Travellers have paid the fee in a bid to hasten the turn-around time for their renewed proof of identity, since around 700,000 applications for the document are currently on the waiting list.
One traveller who saw the £147 taken from his bank account, said that he called the helpline 44 times before getting through, and was then told that he had ‘no confirmation or appointment’ to renew his passport.
Others have also seen the cash taken from their accounts, but with no booking.
People queue outside the customer entrance of the Passport Office headquarters in London’s Victoria last week
One woman from London has been left ‘worried and depressed’ after she paid the fee to sort her documentation before May 17, when she is due to fly to Barcelona to visit her daughter.
After getting through to the fast-track system she was able to secure the only available appointment — around 80 miles away in Peterborough.
‘I eventually got through to the helpline operator who told me she had been taking calls from people with the same problem all day,’ she told The Telegraph.
She was told by the operator that there was nothing she could do, and to call back.
It is thought that the payment issue is being caused by the website timing-out before someone’s booking is confirmed.
The booking is made, and as Brits are slowly redirected to pay, they have lost the appointment without being told.
The Passport Office will make every effort to keep the appointment, if the holidaymaker arrives for it with proof of payment, MailOnline understands.
The fast-track service has mostly been unavailable over the past fortnight, with a message on its website stating that there are ‘no appointments’ at the moment
Unofficial waiting times for adult passport renewals in the past two years, shown in a graph from passportwaitingtime.co.uk
Over the past fortnight, the fast-track service has mostly been unavailable to holidaymakers, with a message on its website stating that there are ‘no appointments’ at the moment.
Bookings are usually released daily for the upcoming three weeks.
The Government agency has come under threat from Boris Johnson over waiting times, with the prime minister declaring that he would ‘privatise the a*** off’ the department, if its current 10-week wait does not drop before the summer.
During the pandemic, around five million Brits delayed renewing their passports. The surge in applications began after restrictions were lifted and holidaymakers discovered their travel documents had expired, or were about to.
Around 400,000 applications are now being made each day.
Boris Johnson said that he would ‘privatise the a*** off’ the Passport Office, if its current 10-week wait does not drop before the summer. Above, the prime minister holds up one of the new passports on the day the UK left the EU
A spokesperson for the Passport Office said they are aware a ‘small number of people’ using the urgent service have experienced a ‘technical issue ‘when booking a Fast Track appointment.
‘We are working with our appointment booking service provider to resolve this issue as soon as possible,’ they said.
‘Appointments will be honoured, and any customer who does not receive notification of their booking is advised to contact the Passport Adviceline to confirm the appointment.’
They added that the ‘vast majority’ of all passports applications are being finalised ‘well within 10 weeks’.
‘We have increased staff numbers by 500 since April 2021,’ they added. ‘This has helped us to handle more applications than ever before, with more than one million passport applications processed in March 2022.’
Brits have been told that applying for the documentation online is the cheapest and easiest way to secure their new passport.
Source: Read Full Article