Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > Asia > Thailand
Reload this Page >

US Consulate in Bangkok. You've got to be kidding.

US Consulate in Bangkok. You've got to be kidding.

Old Nov 19, 15, 7:11 pm
  #1  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Bangkok or San Francisco
Programs: United 1k, Marriott Lifetime PE, Former DL Gold, Former SQ Solitaire, HH Gold
Posts: 11,881
US Consulate in Bangkok. You've got to be kidding.

Is this the correct forum to post the simple observation that the US Consulate in Bangkok is the single most unprofessional and incompetently bureaucratic organization this side of the DMV?

I just spent yet another hour with them going through the "Who's On First?" routine and getting no answers and nothing solved.

After all the dances I went through with them over the years getting my wife a tourist visa, then a Fiancee visa then an alien relative visa I guess I shouldn't expect anything different.

Just a rant.
Tchiowa is offline  
Old Nov 19, 15, 7:45 pm
  #2  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Watchlisted by the prejudiced, en route to purgatory
Programs: Just Say No to Fleecing and Blacklisting
Posts: 90,281
What did you want to know and/or want them to do?
GUWonder is online now  
Old Nov 19, 15, 7:54 pm
  #3  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Posts: 11,711
I've always had decent experiences with the Citizen's Services folks in the Consular section of the U.S Embassy in Bangkok.

I would recommend investigating/asking on ThaiVisa.

http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/forum/...her-countries/
transpac is offline  
Old Nov 19, 15, 11:23 pm
  #4  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Bangkok or San Francisco
Programs: United 1k, Marriott Lifetime PE, Former DL Gold, Former SQ Solitaire, HH Gold
Posts: 11,881
Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
What did you want to know and/or want them to do?
Now that I have calmed down a bit......

My brother-in-law is trying to get a tourist visa to visit me and his sister in the US. Went on line and helped him fill out his DS-160. One of the questions is "Did anyone help you fill out this form". Answered yes and entered my name. Filled out the rest of the form. Submitted it. I went to the bank (Krungsri) to pay his application fee. Made an appointment for his interview. Had to enter the receipt number.

So he shows up to the consulate on the day of the appointment, 30 minutes early. Thai lady is walking up with her list checking appointment papers. Says he doesn't have an appointment. He shows her the appointment sheet. She goes into the office and comes out with a list. On the list are 3 columns of names. She finds his name. In the 2nd column and in the 3rd column. But the first column has my name. So she won't let him in. He clearly had an appointment and had all of the required documentation with him.

I tried to talk to the consulate on the phone but you can't. They gave me an e-mail address. Sent an e-mail. Sent 3 by now. No response on any.

So I made an appointment for me at Citizens Service. Went in this morning. I said "Tell me what went wrong and what I need to do to fix it and I will". "I don't know". Got told nothing they can do to help me. I knew that ahead of time. I wanted them simply to put me in communication with someone who could. They couldn't do anything. "We understand your frustration. Talk to someone in the Visa Section."

Tried. Turns out as an American I'm not allowed to talk to someone in the Visa Section.

Went out and stopped at the front desk. Found the girl in the front desk who checks the names. She remembered my brother in law. She told me the same story he did. I showed her all of his papers, not of which bore my name. She said she knew. But one of her papers does have my name.

So I asked if I came with him next time would they let us both in (since both of our names are on her report) and I could sit on the benches in the waiting area while they interview him. No.

Then she told me he would have to fill out a new DS-160 and try again. But the receipt we already had is linked to a specific DS-160. Which would mean, and she verified it to me, paying the visa fee a second time.

So I said "Tell me what went wrong and what I need to do to fix it and I will". "I don't know". She said "Here, let me use the phone to call someone who can help you." "Great, thank you!" Handed me the phone. It was US Citizen Services again telling me they can't help me.

In the meantime the phone was outside the consulate entry way so I'm locked out. Can't ask anybody anything now.

No one can tell me why my name is appearing on their report (Personal suspicion is that their report assumes that if someone helped fill out the form that is the person who will appear for the interview). No one will tell me what is causing the problem. No one will tell me what they want us to do to fix it. USCS says talk to the Visa Section who says talk to USCS.

This is all reminiscent of what we went through to get my wife's immigrant visa. Unprofessional, disorganized and, the worst part IMO is that it doesn't seem to bother them that they are creating problems for people. My wife got to the point where she refused to go to the consulate without me.

[/RANT]
Tchiowa is offline  
Old Nov 19, 15, 11:37 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Florida USA
Programs: Lufthansa
Posts: 73
Originally Posted by Tchiowa View Post
Is this the correct forum to post the simple observation that the US Consulate in Bangkok is the single most unprofessional and incompetently bureaucratic organization this side of the DMV?

I just spent yet another hour with them going through the "Who's On First?" routine and getting no answers and nothing solved.

After all the dances I went through with them over the years getting my wife a tourist visa, then a Fiancee visa then an alien relative visa I guess I shouldn't expect anything different.

Just a rant.
As a long term resident of BKK, I must agree with your rant 100%. I actually had very little contact with them. Then, I was in a taxi accident as a passenger, where the taxi was hit by two pick-up trucks and my close friend was killed instantly. I was in the hospital for a year (inc. rehab. and a U.S. hospital after transport). The U.S. Embassy was close to completely useless, other than making a few notifications. The worst part was the confusion and total lack of work ethic, in a situation where I needed some help. The driver of one of the pick-ups was charged in the accident by the Thai Police. There was a court case (the U.S. embassy dropped the ball as far as notification and follow-up).........and the worst part I get a call a year later by an embassy employee asking me if I am "satisfied with the settlement in court"? huh???????? I asked the employee what she was talking about....she really did not know, but said "I was asked to ask you if you are satisfied, by the Thai government" I told her I didn't know anything as to what she was referring to......I owed $145,000 in medical bills after insurance and had to pay for everything.........no one helped with anything including getting my friend's body back to the U.S. She said......"OK, I know what to do"....that was a year ago.........I never heard from them again. Thanks for all your help, U.S. Embassy BKK. I know they have a limited role, but this was a bad situation where their confusion and lack of expertise was overwhelming.
ZetaToplover is offline  
Old Nov 20, 15, 1:17 am
  #6  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Bangkok or San Francisco
Programs: United 1k, Marriott Lifetime PE, Former DL Gold, Former SQ Solitaire, HH Gold
Posts: 11,881
Originally Posted by ZetaToplover View Post
As a long term resident of BKK, I must agree with your rant 100%. I actually had very little contact with them. Then, I was in a taxi accident as a passenger, where the taxi was hit by two pick-up trucks and my close friend was killed instantly. I was in the hospital for a year (inc. rehab. and a U.S. hospital after transport). The U.S. Embassy was close to completely useless, other than making a few notifications. The worst part was the confusion and total lack of work ethic, in a situation where I needed some help. The driver of one of the pick-ups was charged in the accident by the Thai Police. There was a court case (the U.S. embassy dropped the ball as far as notification and follow-up).........and the worst part I get a call a year later by an embassy employee asking me if I am "satisfied with the settlement in court"? huh???????? I asked the employee what she was talking about....she really did not know, but said "I was asked to ask you if you are satisfied, by the Thai government" I told her I didn't know anything as to what she was referring to......I owed $145,000 in medical bills after insurance and had to pay for everything.........no one helped with anything including getting my friend's body back to the U.S. She said......"OK, I know what to do"....that was a year ago.........I never heard from them again. Thanks for all your help, U.S. Embassy BKK. I know they have a limited role, but this was a bad situation where their confusion and lack of expertise was overwhelming.
I won't go into the detail of what went wrong when I applied for my wife's various visas.

One line summary of what I'm dealing with now is that they tell me there is a problem but they won't tell me what the problem is and they won't tell me what I need to do to fix it and they won't let us move forward until it's fixed.

The worst part about all of it, and it's clear from your comments you saw something similar, is that not only are they unhelpful (I'm not going to say "incompetent" because I think it's more that they are just bureaucratic) but they sincerely don't seem to understand why we're not satisfied with their actions. They really think they're doing great work. Scary, IMO.
Tchiowa is offline  
Old Nov 20, 15, 1:36 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Florida USA
Programs: Lufthansa
Posts: 73
Originally Posted by Tchiowa View Post
I won't go into the detail of what went wrong when I applied for my wife's various visas.

One line summary of what I'm dealing with now is that they tell me there is a problem but they won't tell me what the problem is and they won't tell me what I need to do to fix it and they won't let us move forward until it's fixed.

The worst part about all of it, and it's clear from your comments you saw something similar, is that not only are they unhelpful (I'm not going to say "incompetent" because I think it's more that they are just bureaucratic) but they sincerely don't seem to understand why we're not satisfied with their actions. They really think they're doing great work. Scary, IMO.
Exactly correct. If you spoke to one of the people I dealt with, they would feel that they were doing "the lord's work" and that they were performing in a professional and proficient manner. I guess a lot of what they do is assist U.S. citizens when they are arrested for some crime (both of the main people I dealt with had current "drug matters" going on as far as notifications and rec. of a Thai lawyer), so they might develop some sort of a jaded attitude. In this case, my friend's autopsy showed that he had not even consumed an aspirin, let alone anything illegal. AND we were both retired government employees...........there was no love spreading around.

I guess in retrospect (in my case) there is a limit to what they can do.......but, even the little they can do, was totally screwed up.

Just to show how stupidity goes around........when leaving BKK in a wheelchair, at the airport, the mess continued. The insurance company agent had obtained documents from the hospital showing what was going on and that I was in a serious accident.......and was in the hospital the entire time. They are looking at a guy in a wheelchair (in very poor condition at that point) and the immigration people demanded fines be paid for the visa overstay while in the hospital. The agent argued with them, but then told me the company was going to pay the fine, as it was not worth "playing games with these corrupt guys". This did not involve the US embassy, but shows that everyone is involved in their "own world" and making some kash.............
ZetaToplover is offline  
Old Nov 20, 15, 2:33 am
  #8  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Posts: 11,711
I think we have unreasonable expectations of what a local U.S. Embassy should provide in the way of services to those living in Thailand, and those visiting as tourists.

There are 30,000 - 50,000 U.S. citizens living here, and another 750,000 annual tourists (from the U.S.). Given all the responsibilities: consular, business, diplomatic it is nigh on impossible to provide personalized services. I think there are ~ 50 deaths (U.S. citizens) each year (50% motor vehicle related), and probably a thousand in accidents?

Regarding the BiL's Visa snafu, I would ask for advice on ThaiVisa. I can guarantee someone will have spot-on advice.
transpac is offline  
Old Nov 20, 15, 7:05 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Florida USA
Programs: Lufthansa
Posts: 73
Originally Posted by transpac View Post
I think we have unreasonable expectations of what a local U.S. Embassy should provide in the way of services to those living in Thailand, and those visiting as tourists.

There are 30,000 - 50,000 U.S. citizens living here, and another 750,000 annual tourists (from the U.S.). Given all the responsibilities: consular, business, diplomatic it is nigh on impossible to provide personalized services. I think there are ~ 50 deaths (U.S. citizens) each year (50% motor vehicle related), and probably a thousand in accidents?

Regarding the BiL's Visa snafu, I would ask for advice on ThaiVisa. I can guarantee someone will have spot-on advice.
Well, I guess that should make them experts at locating a dead person's body, returning his stuff to his family, finding a service to transport a body and providing a death certificate.........which they seem to be "challenged" at.....but, thanks for the stats.

You are making an assumption that "personalized service" was asked for or required. The basic service would have been fine.......but was severely lacking, both in substance and time frame.
ZetaToplover is offline  
Old Nov 20, 15, 11:41 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: DCA/IAD
Programs: most of them
Posts: 3,249
So what exactly is their role then? If they can't even tell a citizen what needs to be done in order to straighten out a visa application, then what are they there for?

I might try going through my Congressman depending who that is. They often have constituent services people who are good at getting things fixed with Executive departments. Or try social media? tweet at the Ambassador?
glennaa11 is offline  
Old Nov 20, 15, 4:40 pm
  #11  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Posts: 11,711
If they can't even tell a citizen what needs to be done in order to straighten out a visa application


U.S. citizens do not need visas.

In the OP's case, I think it is his brother-in-law - who one assumes is a Thai subject - who is applying for a visa. Clearly applicants need to be able to sort out their own issues.

Based on the hundreds of Thais I see lined up outside the U.S. Embassy on Wireless Road each morning, and the fact that there are ~ 350,000 Thais who've legally emigrated to the U.S., I can't see local staff providing personalized services for local U.S. citizens who have relations seeking a U.S. visa?

Again, I wish we all could get the level ("basic" or otherwise) of service we want and expect, but I doubt that that can be delivered, nor do I believe that it is reasonable to expect it. BTW, we're not alone in our dissatisfaction; nearly every foreigner here has complained about this "issue".

Finally, asking your Congress-person to help sort this out will, in most cases, make the matter worse.
transpac is offline  
Old Nov 20, 15, 5:18 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: RNO, NV, USA.
Programs: UA 1K 2MM
Posts: 4,136
Originally Posted by transpac View Post
In the OP's case, I think it is his brother-in-law - who one assumes is a Thai subject - who is applying for a visa. Clearly applicants need to be able to sort out their own issues.

Based on the hundreds of Thais I see lined up outside the U.S. Embassy on Wireless Road each morning, and the fact that there are ~ 350,000 Thais who've legally emigrated to the U.S., I can't see local staff providing personalized services for local U.S. citizens who have relations seeking a U.S. visa?

Again, I wish we all could get the level ("basic" or otherwise) of service we want and expect, but I doubt that that can be delivered, nor do I believe that it is reasonable to expect it. BTW, we're not alone in our dissatisfaction; nearly every foreigner here has complained about this "issue".
Lets not forget that the OP paid an application fee for this visa service. The embassy is not doing this free! (I would be interested in knowing what this fee is.) So I agree with him, he should be able to expect some minimal level of personalized service from the embassy.

There may be many US citizens living in Thailand, and I understand they are all required to pay tax to the IRS on their world-wide income.
restlessinRNO is offline  
Old Nov 20, 15, 6:03 pm
  #13  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Posts: 11,711
Lets not forget that the OP paid an application fee for this visa service.

No, the OP's BiL paid the non-refundable visa fee.



I would be interested in knowing what this fee is.

The non-refundable fee for a B-2 visa is $160. Not sure what rate they're using at the Embassy these days; I usually pay in USD cash for my affidavits, but it might be 5,500 - 6,000 THB.

Yes, we all pay taxes even after the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, but I don't expect to be allowed to ride in a F-16.
transpac is offline  
Old Nov 21, 15, 5:42 am
  #14  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Bangkok or San Francisco
Programs: United 1k, Marriott Lifetime PE, Former DL Gold, Former SQ Solitaire, HH Gold
Posts: 11,881
Originally Posted by transpac View Post
Lets not forget that the OP paid an application fee for this visa service.

No, the OP's BiL paid the non-refundable visa fee.



I would be interested in knowing what this fee is.

The non-refundable fee for a B-2 visa is $160. Not sure what rate they're using at the Embassy these days; I usually pay in USD cash for my affidavits, but it might be 5,500 - 6,000 THB.

Yes, we all pay taxes even after the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, but I don't expect to be allowed to ride in a F-16.
5,760 THB. And I paid the fee.

I'm not asking for personalized service of any kind. We followed all the rules then they interrupted the process and won't tell us why or what we have to do to fix it.

You can't tell someone "We have to stop the process because you made a mistake but we're not going to tell you what the mistake was and we won't let you proceed until you fix it."

All we ask is to tell us what the problem is and what they want us to do. That's not asking for personalized service.
Tchiowa is offline  
Old Nov 21, 15, 6:40 am
  #15  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Watchlisted by the prejudiced, en route to purgatory
Programs: Just Say No to Fleecing and Blacklisting
Posts: 90,281
Originally Posted by transpac View Post
I think we have unreasonable expectations of what a local U.S. Embassy should provide in the way of services to those living in Thailand, and those visiting as tourists.

There are 30,000 - 50,000 U.S. citizens living here, and another 750,000 annual tourists (from the U.S.). Given all the responsibilities: consular, business, diplomatic it is nigh on impossible to provide personalized services. I think there are ~ 50 deaths (U.S. citizens) each year (50% motor vehicle related), and probably a thousand in accidents?

Regarding the BiL's Visa snafu, I would ask for advice on ThaiVisa. I can guarantee someone will have spot-on advice.
Worsening or poor service is sort of a given when given this: the sheer volume of people involved in requesting various services; staff hearing so many sorts of stories that sort of drive skepticism and all sorts of other things that yield apathy/detachment in some form or another; staff turnover/rotation; the security worries; and the "these are the rules, no exceptions" grooming of staff. And it's not like USFS is such a rewarding career path that it attracts and retains some of the better graduates in the way it used to some decades ago; and people in such positions aren't rewarded for going above and beyond in independently acting ... even within the scope of reason and common sense.

It's sort of like a government-operated call center but where you show up in person and receive US3 airline-level of domestic ground service. Except it tends to be even less responsive than the IRS, whether or not it's just as bureaucratically rigid.

Of course this leads to a lot of frustration, even unnecessary frustration, more so when dealing with the visa process than when dealing with ACS. And for this, Americans increasingly pay more than before without getting more than before.
GUWonder is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: