Department of Idiots of State

Suppose a foreigner is thinking of traveling to the US and needs some information from the US consulate in his country. Suppose he is in London and trying to find the phone number of the US consulate in London. An internet search leads to where you find out that you can call a toll number, similar to phone sex lines, where they charge by the minute. For 60p/ min (about $1/min) you can have the privilege of listening to a recording! Oh, you need to talk to a live bureaucrat? No problem dial another number and for 1.50 GBP/min (about $2.40/min) you can talk to a live bureaucrat. They probably keep you on hold and string you along, just like the real sex lines, except here they screw you instead of getting you off.

Some further research shows other US consulates in other countries do this too, so I am assuming it is a world wide policy of the Department of State.

What kind of idiot thought this was a good idea? Yeah, we all like money but at least we try not to look sleazy. I guess the Department of State does not care much about looking sleazy and prefer the dough instead.

Now, suppose a US citizen is considering traveling to another country and they tell him the consulate of that country charges for information $2.40/minute. How many Americans would put up with that? My guess is 0%. My guess is 100% would say “screw them and I’ll go spend my vacation somewhere else”. At least that’s what I would do.

What idiot at the State Department thought it was a good idea to charge callers $2.40 a minute? So you call, you’re on hold for 5 minutes, then ask if you need to submit form A-546 or form B-835, and after you have your answer you have incurred $30. This has to be the work of someone who wants to make the US to look really bad. You cannot get any sleazier than that.

I would not pay $30 for anything short of a complete blow job. Sorry.

Well, Ok, I’ll pay $40 if it’s by the Secretary of State in person. But no more.

I would pay substantially more than $40, US even, for the promise that the Secretary of State did not ever attempt to give me a blowjob.

(Also, I’m confused how you would give someone a blowjob not in person. Send it in by mail?)

I know it’s going to disappoint you mightily, but you guys are SO behind the curve on this one. I got the same frickin’ runaround from the French embassy in the U.K. back in 1992.

Bunch of ass-bastard capitalist scalpers. And, since you ask, no I didn’t end up travelling to their country for the holidays. Though the fact that they were the only European country to try to charge me money for a visa might have had something to do with it…

Just go to the Canadian Embassy and ask to borrow the phone.

You mean the Canadian High Commission? Silly Commonwealth Realms.

Actually, at least in Germany, you’ll not get to talk to a live bureaucrat. What you’ll get is a live (at least in a technical sense) call-center employee. “But,” you ask, “how can a call-center afford to hire people with intimate knowledge of US emigration law ?” Well, they can’t. So they don’t.

What you get is some schmuck who knows less on the subject than you do - and in the end, you end up paying through the nose for leading him through the relevant clauses and sub-clauses (I am not making this up) - just to have him read to you the same vague & inconclusive answer that led you to pursue the phone number in the first place. :mad: Feh.

Dammit! Everyone pipe down!

They’re finally figuring out that we’re making it complicated on purpose because we don’t want any visitors!

After all, it’s been a hard year and our hair is still in curlers and we’re only halfway through this cup of earl gray.

Sounds like they don’t want anyone to leave the US.

At least we’re more subtle about it than the Soviet Union was:

Shouldn’t that be “your fee to leave the country”? :smiley:

I must be quite naive but I am still shocked by the stupidity of all this. I mean the USA spends millions in cultural centers and other activities abroad with the purpose of improving its image and fostering good relations. And then they charge $2.40/minute to talk to them? WTF? How utterly stupid can you get?

Of course we can then check and see who is the ambassador. Hmmm experience in US foreign relations? none. Probably just gave some cash to the president’s election fund.

I mean, isn’t there someone in the State Department with some common sense who would say to his boss “I think this is a really bad idea; it makes us look really bad; local comedians could have a field day with this” ??

Often these things are reciprocated and two countries will agree to have similar reciprocal fees etc. I am going to write to the embassies in Washington of a few countries and point this out to them and ask them why they do not do the same thing or demand that the US cease the practice.