Adventures at the Indian embassy (or how Portuguese services suck)
Where should i start? Ah, yes, the motivation: In about a month i am supposed to go to India in a business trip and - as such - i will require a visa.
I went to the embassy on Wednesday morning only to find out that visa applications are not handled on Wednesdays. Just my luck! It was clearly my fault, since i did not properly check the opening times on their - extremely hard to find - website. Did i mention you spend one hour in traffic just to get there? Suffice to say i was pissed, though mostly at myself. I did try to call them, but the automated response only directed people to their website. Why they bother having a phone is beyond me.
The next day i went back again (1 more hour in traffic) and finally got a ticket. The system works like this: You wait in the streets until a security guard calls you. Then he checks to see if your papers are all in order, and finally gives you a numbered ticket and sends you into the actual waiting/service room where you... wait some more. I arrived at the gate at around 11 am. I got ticket number 35. The embassy opens at 9.30 and they only had served around 19 tickets. I did my math and promptly went back home, at the risk of spending the entire day waiting. Again - probably my fault - but one should take some time to see the number of people that uses our services and get the appropriate amount of workers to be able to deal with them in a timely fashion. Two workers for 50 people, when the average time per person is 20 minutes, will not work.
Third day: Decided that i should be one of the first people to get there and get a ticket. Left home around 8 am. Arrived at the embassy at 9:15. Got ticket number 4. Not bad. Funny fact about lines in portugal: they don't exist. I arrived at the embassy gate and there were around 10 people there already (the embassy opens at 9.30, though they only started actually working at 10). I asked politely "is there a line?" and was greeted with the response "not really, you know how it is with us portuguese, we just remember who came first". This is exactly the kind of crap that pisses me off: lack of order and organization. But then again, looking at my living room right now, i shouldn't really complain :)
So, i got my number and went ahead into the waiting room. Now, the website states that - for business visas - one is required the following:
- Invitation letter from the Indian partner,
- Invitation letter from the Portuguese company explaining the details of the visit.
Note theÂ emphasized "OR".
After waiting for roughly 30 minutes, the lady tells me that i'm missing a letter from my company (i only had the one from the Indian company). I tried to explain that the website said i only needed that one but there was nothing that could be done. She told me how long it would take, explained that it had to beÂ analyzedÂ by two different entities and told me how much it would cost. Since - up until then - i saw everyone paying in cash i decided it would be a good idea to ask if they accepted cards. No cards. Really? What century is this? And you could put out a sign explaining that so that i would know about it - oh call me crazy - before i waited in line or - i don't know - you could put it IN YOUR WEBSITE?
So here's my summary of improvements, if anyone closely related to the Indian embassy in Portugal reads this and cares enough to help people not waste their time and money getting a freaking visa:
Update your website! Seriously, read that again: Update your website. It's the 21st century and pretty much everyone uses the web to know information about this kind of things; Put up a sign that you do not take cards as a method of payment. I do understand why you make the entrance process so explicitly phased, but people need to know what to count on when they get in there. I don't want to stand in line for 1 hour (a very typical case, trust me) only to find out i cannot pay with my card. Also, see point number 1! Get more people working there. Clearly the waiting times should tell you that you are understaffed.
There, ended up being constructive. I feel much better now :)
UPDATE: As a good friend of mine very well pointed out, i should help other people find their website :)