Opinion: An Open Letter To The British High Commission- Emmanuel Ofori

Dear Sir,

I hope this letter reaches you well. Since your customer complaint center charges for filling a complain on customer dissatisfaction I have chosen this medium and I am very sure even if you don’t see it your predecessor Jon Benjamin will definitely chance on it and pass it over.

Sir, I applied for a standard Visa on the 5th of August to attend an academic conference and my appointment was due on the 15th August 8:30am. Since you always accuse us of not been time conscious I decided to be”unGhanaian” and reported as early as 7:30am.

I met other Ghanaians present and we were asked to wait at the Movenpick car park till the appointment time. I was lucky to have driven there so I comfortably sat in my car whiles my friends stood waiting. When the time of appointment was due we were ushered into a corridor to wait in a queue
At the document screening I was attended to by Janet who asked me to pay the premium service as a mandatory requirement before I will be attended to. I then inquire of the service cost and with it entails. I was told to pay 89GBP (490 GHC) for a cup of coffee and a room to be attended by staffs for the scanning of documents when the even the cost of visa application is 540GHC.I felt the cost was way above the roof, abnormal and a rip-off so I asked the staff (Janet) if it was possible to cancel the appointment.

Of which she replied the affirmative and further informed me if I decide to pay I can come back. After reading through the cancellation process I realized it was quite a difficult task so I decided to pay for the premium service. I used a computer in their Office just directly opposite the reception where documents are vetted and since I was not alone in this ordeal it took me quite a while to even have access to a computer. The processes of registration and payment was quite a task so eventually I had to call for assistance from one of the staffs who were vetting other documents at the front office.

The procedure was that if you finish the payment you hand over your documents to them to crosscheck if payment is accepted. After handing over my documents to him I was told after sometimes that my payment was not accepted and that I should try again and come later.

The system kept rejecting my Visa credit card, I had to move to ground floor of Movenpick Hotel to check with the ATM machine if my card was the problem but the results was No my card was active. The gentleman who initially assisted me called and handed me my documents to return after payment is successful.

Around 11am I decided to try it on my phone and finally I had a successfully payment so I returned my documents only to be told that the Premium services is closed so I should pay additional 98GBP (490 GHC) for a walk in service.

I was like what? Excuse me did you say I should pay additional 490 GHC before I can be served? She insisted the premium service closes 20 minutes after 8:30am she dumped my papers rudely on the desk and asked me to proceed to the walk inn and pay for my service. I started burning up. So I inquire why nobody inform me of the timeline especially the gentleman besides her who was helping me through the entire payment process and if they really have such a closing date how come it is nowhere on their website or on notice in their office.

I lost it, gave her my mind including some etiquettes of a customer service rep and asked to see the manager in charge. That was where I had the shock of my life.

This is the conversation between me and the customer service manager at the British embassy visa center.

Manager: How may I help you?

Me : I just payee for a service that I did not enjoy and apart from that I am asked to pay addition before I can be serve .How is that possible?
Manager: Premium service is a privilege not a service.

Me: What!! Are you kidding me?
If u had read before coming you would not have gone through this problem because the website says you are to pay for the premium service before coming.

Me: I furiously asked her if I look blind or uneducated not to have read and she should ask her staffs at the front office how long I have been struggling just to make this payment.

Manager: It is not our fault

Me: So you are telling me it’s my fault

Manager: No, then it is the system

Me: Who owns the system?

Manager: I don’t know

Me: Why didn’t the gentleman who helped me through the payment processes refused to inform me of the closing time for premium services and helped me through out when he knew the time had elapsed?.

Manager: He was not even supposed to help you so if he did then you are exposing him for discipline actions.

Me: Why did your system accepts payment after close of premium service?

Manager: I don’t know it’s the system fault.
Me: Do you know the system is only a software which is designed and managed by people?

Manager: It’s a system

Janet walks in. Ahaa I remember this gentleman initially he said he was going to cancel the appointment.

Manager: Don’t worry, I know how to handle it
Me: So am I going to have a refund for the payment since I did not enjoy the service you have charged me for?

Manager: No, You have to pay for a walk inn of additional 490GHc.
Me: After I just finished paying GHC490 for premium that I could not even enjoy you are asking me to pay for additional amount before I will be served?
Manager: Yes .Are you ready to pay or not

She handed me a piece of paper you can file a complaint with British Embassy but remember you will pay for the complaint. Everything is captured on CCTV camera so when they care we will play it.
I took my file and left the office.

Outside people were complaining but Ghanaian culture nobody is ready to voice it out for the fear of been victimized by these staff members who are only there to scan documents for onward transmission to the British High commission.

I wasn’t the only one that went through the ordeal of having to pay for a mandatory premium service, at least I met one Indian, 7 Ghanaians who were all complaining of such a treatment which signifies that it happens every day.
Sir from the above conversation that happened between me and the manager of your center I am pretty much sure you will agree with me that your customer service is not as great as your name Great Britain.

Your predecessor Jon Benjamin was very busy twitting all over so probably he did not have time to clean his own closet but so far so good you have proven to be quite different, maybe you should pay a little attention to your visa center by first playing the CCTV recordings of August 15th 2017 between myself and your customer service manager and you will probably realize that my mother’s at Makola market are far ahead in terms of customer service than your service Centre.

I might not have the opportunity to visit Great Britain but at least if I visited your Centre I should have a little feeling of a developed nation called Great Britain in there.

Shalom Sir

Emmanuel Kwame Ofori

Public Policy Analyst

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