24 Oct 2016, 29 mins ago

Why does the UKBA persist in not putting phone or fax numbers on most of its correspondence? It must be a matter of deliberate policy to stop people asking what are no doubt perceived as irritating questions. However, no other sensible organisation functions in this way. It reinforces the image of a faceless, uncaring institution that isn’t interested in getting the right answer, just in keeping people (customers) off its back. The result in many cases is to increase the workload rather than make it go away.

Recently, we had a case file returned with missing documents; no number to ring; sent a letter. No answer, sent another letter. Last week an application for a main applicant and dependant; application approved but no mention of dependant (which turned out to be a simple oversight); sent a letter. Had a query about an application, referred to UKBA website, found a phone number that was automated and referred me back to the website. Got a refusal, rang up the number on the refusal form which did get answered, but was told they can only deal with removals, referred back to the website and the same automated phone number. Tried emailing help site found on the UKBA website. This too was automated and sent a reply putting me back into the perpetual loop. Found the number of the EEA Immigration Enquiry Bureau (EEA2 Form refers you to it if you want help after applying). Hooray, got a person to speak to. But he referred me back to the website and could not answer my question.

One is left wondering how much of the recent backlog identified by the Chief Inspector of Immigration (and subsequently identified by the UKBA as mostly not a backlog but people querying a decision) might have been resolved by a phone call.

The UKBA is an organisation under constant pressure and often gets a bad press, some of which is unfair. However, things will never improve until it offers a sensible customer service rather than persisting with its current siege mentality. As they used to say at BT, it’s good to talk.