Unfortunately for us, Dave went through the airport yesterday. After a surly customs agent behaved in an uncouth, yet ironic (situationaly speaking) manner, he called customs to complain.
We say unfortunately because his complaint was routed directly to a government employee who could and promised to take direct action.
Nothing chars our goat more than a customer service issue actually getting resolved by phone.
What would we have to write about otherwise?
Read Dave’s letter, if you must, after the jump…
- “Yesterday, after nearly 20 hours of airport waiting and flying squooshed into seats that were meant to house 10-year-old Europeans, not 30-year-old Americans, we arrived back from Barcelona into the m
e that is LAX. Passport control was easy (“welcome home!”), the initial customs inspection was a doddle (“Spain and Switzerland, huh? Lucky.”), but then we came to the guy whose job it is to collect the arrival forms.
The officer collecting the forms in the non-US citizens’ line to the left of us was saying, quite loudly, “Move along, come on, too slow, what are you doing, don’t stop, are you stupid?” as the endless shuffle of visitors goes past him. As he was doing this, he was standing under a poster saying that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the “face of our nation” and is dedicated to respectful, helpful, friendly service.
This afternoon I went on the CBP website to find out where I could give feedback. Since I didn’t have the officer’s name, I couldn’t really make a complaint. The website was unhelpful, until I unearthed something about the Ports District for Los Angeles and Long Beach. I figured that someone would be able to point me to the right phone number, and dialled, figuring to be lost in auto-menu hell.
Not so! It rang twice, a woman answered and, when I had explained my desire, said, “You need to speak to Ana Hinojosa, the Port Director at LAX. Hang on, and I’ll transfer you.” There came some ghostly, far away
clicks, and a voice said, “This is Ana, may I help you?”
At this point I was certain that I’d called the Canadian or Swiss government by mistake, because the gross inefficiency and bad “bedside manner” of the civil service of the United States government are
The connection was, unfortunately, very bad, so she took my number and called me back ten seconds later. I explained what had happened and my annoyance at the “face of our nation” being a facia bruta, and she
asked what time, what terminal, where the man was, and for a physical description. “That isn’t acceptable behaviour,” she said, “and I’m glad you called. I’ll bring it up in the next meeting we have, but next time
please get the officer’s name or badge number so we can take more direct action.”
Holy crap. Not only did the government answer the phone without recourse to some God-awful menu system designed to make people go away, but they were helpful, sympathetic, and transferred me to the Person In Charge
without further ado. I mean, honestly, what’s a civil libertarian like me supposed to complain about when the government is efficient, friendly and responsive?”
Take cheer, we suppose.