Why A. Briggs Passport & Visa Expediters sucks the big, fat furry one. Use them at your own peril. On 18 September 2006, I sent two passports and two visa applications in via FedEx. They were signed for 19 September 2006. I was called on the 19th saying a form was missing. I dispute that because I personally checked all documents for both applications before I sent it in. No matter, I sent that form out FedEx the same day and it was signed for 20 September 2006.
The instructions clearly stated my passport was to be renewed and to do the renewal with extra pages, as my current passport was full. I also included an extra $145 for the rush renewal. I did this because, until it was renewed, the Chinese Business visas could not be applied for. The letter also instructed A. Briggs that we were travelling together, and the Visa process was to be done simultaneously.
For the Chinese Visas we also paid the expedited fees. We did this because our departure date was 6 October and we didn’t want any sort of delay. We’ve obtained Chinese Visas before and know the process and procedures and time required.
Anyway, on 27 September 2006 — this was a full week afterwards — I e-mailed them to ask about the status. It was bounced back “mailbox overflow” — this is always a terrible sign at any company. So, then I used their “online chat” feature and was told to call. As instructed, I called to check on the status of our applications. Evelyn answered and I told her the e-mail box was full and she thanked me for letting her know. Then she said their computer didn’t have any information and it appeared my documents were lost. She said the ‘Passport Director’ would call me back shortly as he was on the way into the office.
The next day I called again because I hadn’t received a call back and some lady whose name I can’t recollect, but not Evelyn, answered. She said Chris Estes was going to call me right back. Anyone taking wagers? I called again that evening — because I hadn’t received a call back — and he said he’d be taking it right over then he changed his story and said he meant it was already there and they were taking their times based on our departure dates.
I reminded him that we paid a great deal of money (hundreds of extra dollars) to have expedited service and our Chinese Visas done together. He said he would personally make sure the passport was renewed by 2 October (several weeks after my application had been sent in). He also promised he’d make sure the Visas were done and he promised they would both be in my hands on 4 October.
I had asked Chris for a refund of all the expediting fees we had paid but he wouldn’t even acknowledge my request saying ‘these things take time’ even though the whole purpose of an expeditor is to expedite. His company failed in that. And we’ve done this before with other companies so we know what can and can’t be done.
On 4 October my passport arrived without the extra pages. Yeah, my passport only. Greg’s was nowhere to be found. I called and asked for the name of the owner of the company. I was refused that information. I was told I could speak to the local branch manager Pete Davidovich in Washington DC. I pointed out I had called the DC number (202 area code) but was told I was talking to someone in Cincinnati. I said I would talk to Mr. Davidovich but he wasn’t in and would be in ‘after 6’ and I left a message. That’s right. No call back.
I called Greg and let him know the situation. He called and got a horrible run-around first being accused of having an application with errors. That wasn’t true because except for the name, his application was identical to mine. And they managed to process it without Greg having to send any more documentation.
Today is 5 October 2006 and Greg still doesn’t have his passport though they assure him it will arrive tomorrow (the 6th) so now we’re leaving the 7th because of A. Briggs incompetence (assuming they’re even telling the truth, which is in doubt based on their actions to date).
So, just to sum it up, don’t ever use this company because they really suck. Actions speak louder than their website.
6 October update: I tried to e-mail them and it’s still bouncing so I just went on-line and told them using their chat service that it’s still broken. You gotta’ wonder about a company who hasn’t cleaned out its mailbox in over two weeks. A high-quality outfit to be sure (voice dripping with sarcasm).
They have fixed the problem. Please see my new blog entry.
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