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Opinions Mon, 29 Jul 2013

An Open Letter to Ambassador Ohene Agyekum

His Excellency Daniel Ohene Agyekum

Ambassador of the Republic of Ghana

3512 Int. Drive

NW, Washington, DC 20008

Dear Sir,

UNFAIR TREATMENT AT THE NEW YORK CONSULATE

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I happened to apply for a Ghanaian visa at the New York consulate to enable me visit with my family in Ghana. I processed and duly mailed my visa application to the embassy on March 4 of this year. On March 11 however, I received the application back together with my passport and the visa application fee with a handwritten note attached, asking me to provide a residential address in Ghana, notwithstanding the fact that postal (mailing) address in Ghana had been provided and also considering the fact that residential addresses are rarely used in Ghana. Moreover residential address in Ghana had never been required or emphasized since 2002 when I started going to Ghana on Ghana visa. Be it as it may, my intuition instantly told me that whoever sent the passport and the application back to me with that requirement could have simply called me on the phone for the residential address (a simple house number) since I had provided more than two phone numbers on the application, but alas!

In an attempt to secure the visa in a timely manner so as not to unduly delay my journey, I instantly mailed back the passport with the required residential address in an express-track-and-confirm US Postal Mail on the same day, ie March 11, 2013 which was duly signed for by a consulate official in New York the next day as the information below from the US Post website attests to:

Track & Confirm # EI975246660US

Status: Delivered

“Your item was delivered at 11:17 am on March 12, 2013 in NEW YORK, NY 10017 to CONSULATE OF GHANA. The item was signed for by K ADU. Additional information for this item is stored in files offline”.

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Your Excellency, it is instructive to note that the visa information in my passport indicates that it was issued the next day-March 13th, 2013, but whoever was in charge didn’t deem it urgent enough to mail it back to me until March the 19th, the day of my departure and not until a marathon back-and- forth phone calls were initiated by me whereby I virtually had to plead with a lady who was supposed to have given it to the US post. Assuming that the visa was issued late on March 13th and therefore couldn’t have gone to the post; how about the next day which was the 14th-a Thursday? Or let’s forget the fact that the consulate doesn’t work on Fridays; how about the Monday, March 18th? Well, I became very apprehensive by the evening of the Monday when I received my mails san my passport (visa). In view of this, I again spent the whole morning through the midday on Tuesday the 19th making frantic phone calls to the consulate to ascertain whether the visa had actually been mailed or not. I must hasten to add that I called the consulate in the afternoon of the 18th of March and the lady told me that she had delivered my passport to the US mail. Albeit this however, the tracking number associated with it yielded no result as there was no information about it on the US Postal Service website. I retired to bed that evening with the hope that my visa (passport) would arrive the next morning to enable me embark on my journey to Ghana at 11pm that evening. My hope however, was dashed as the tracking information did not confirm that the US Postal Service was in possession of my passport as at 10:00am on Tuesday March 19th, the day of my departure!. Even though there was no information indicating that the passport had been mailed, the consulate staff insisted that she had handed it over to the US postal service the previous day. I pleaded with her around 10:30am on the 19th that I was prepared to drive to New York to pick up my passport so as not to delay my journey and also to avoid any penalties from the airline. To my amazement, the lady stood her grounds insisting that she had put it in the mail! But lo and behold, my tracking it again at 2:15pm on the 19th indicated that she rather submitted it to the postal service at 12:06pm on the 19th of March, indicating that she had all along lied to me as the track- and- confirm information below buttresses my submission:

Track & Confirm # EI975246948US

Acceptance March 19, 2013, 12:06 pm NEW YORK, NY 10199

Please, kindly look at the US Postal Service itinerary above where it unequivocally says “ Acceptance” along with the date-March 19th, together with time and place. What does Acceptance mean and acceptance from whom at 12:06pm? Doesn’t this clearly show that the US Post received the mail on March 19th, 2013 at 12:06pm? So, wherein lies the fact that my passport had been delivered to the US Post prior to the day quoted above as the lady at the consulate wanted me to believe? Was this lady hired by the consulate to lie and be rude to its clients or to discharge her duties courteously and for which she is being paid?

Well, upon realizing that my trip would not be possible on the 19th as my visa had been unduly delayed, I called my airline-the British Airways to reschedule the flight but the penalty ($1,377.88) being charged was almost equal to the original amount ($1, 421.07) I used to purchase the ticket (please see attached), meaning that I paid double for this trip to Ghana due to the uncaring behavior of a consulate staff. The reason was that I did not give the airline adequate notice (a minimum of seven days). As if that was not frustrating enough, a call to the consulate yielded no encouraging results as the lady was so rude and uncaring to me; in fact, she had the audacity to hang the phone in my face for daring to tell her the damage she had caused me.

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Your Excellency, I would like to place on record that I heard Hons. Baba Jamal and Ms. Akua Ativor bemoaning the rude attitude of some Ghanaian staff in various Ghana missions abroad and their poor human relations practices toward customers when a deputy foreign affairs minister was being vetted while I was in Ghana this year. Unfortunately, I had to suffer this unhealthy behavior for no reason. The question therefore arises as to how Baba Jamal and Madam Ativor are going to handle this lady at Ghana’s New York consulate?

Sir, I do acknowledge the fact that this complaint of mine will certainly incur the displeasure of some staff of the consulate and result in me being blacklisted when next time I apply for a visa or any service for that matter, but I think it is my personal, civic and patriotic responsibility to bring it to your attention so that such behaviors are nipped in the bud to forestall its recurrence. I hope the extra money I paid to the airline (receipts attached), through no fault of mine, will be refunded back to me while I await a response from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

A Concerned Ghanaian-American

CC: Hon Hanna Tetteh

Minister of Foreign Affairs

P.O. Box M 53

Accra, Ghana

Columnist: cboateng06@comcast.net