How can TNT take three months to issue a passport? | consumer affairs

I’m running into a brick wall with TNT’s passport delivery service. I was informed by the HM Passport Office three months ago that my replacement passport had been dispatched. Since then, there have been no delivery attempts. TNT’s customer service is fully automated and every time I call they tell me the shipment has left for ‘tomorrow’ delivery. There is no option to talk to a human. The Passport Office says it is unable to act unless TNT confirms that it has lost the passport. I have a trip to Italy booked for next month and I risk losing my money if I can’t travel.
JG, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire

Thousands of people took to Twitter and visited websites to complain after waiting in vain for passports and residence permits. The Passport Office says the wait times are currently around 10 weeks, but that’s for the document to be issued. Some complainants claim to have waited more than six months for TNT to arrive at their doorstep.

The US company, part of FedEx, signed a three-year, £77million contract with the Home Office to provide official travel documents in 2019, but Brexit and Covid appear to have taken their toll . There are also concerns that the service does not allow recipients to track their item live or log delivery instructions. A petition, signed by over 700 people, calls for an investigation into how TNT was selected by the Home Office and why service failures were not investigated .

SDD contacted me from Hampshire after her spouse’s visa was issued to the wrong address without a signature, despite government rules requiring residence permits to be handed over in person after identity verification. The visa was reissued and delivered to the correct address, but again not delivered in person.

Londoner VHHowever, TNT falsely claimed he was absent four times when he tried to issue his biometric residence permit. “I checked on my CCTV the dates and times of the delivery attempts indicated on the TNT tracker,” he said. “The first time the driver approached the property, took a picture and left without ringing the bell. The other times they didn’t even do it.

JJ was contacted by TNT the day I alerted his press office, and his passport was miraculously discovered and delivered within 24 hours.

TNT has apologized and blamed an increase in passport applications after Covid restrictions were relaxed late last year. “This has unfortunately had an impact on our service levels,” he says. “We have taken a number of steps to restore service levels across our HM Passport Office network – including operational resources, additional team support and additional customer support resources – and we are currently operating within the service level requirements agreed with the Home Office.”

TNT has not commented on allegations that drivers attempt deliveries without ringing the doorbell, or that its helpline is useless.

Surprisingly, the Passport Office told me that, unlike residence permits, a signature for passport deliveries is not part of its “secure delivery requirements” unless the mailbox is shared. He would not specify what those “secure delivery requirements” are, nor comment on whether he plans to renew the contract with TNT when it expires in July. It says: “We work closely with our UK delivery provider and passports are delivered within the required service level of 48 hours for standard deliveries.”

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