Calling all Canadians

Hi there,

I’m currently in the process of writing a book about Taiwan / Asia / travelling, and so on. As I’m aiming to market it in Canada, I’m hoping to add an article on my dealings with Canadian consulates/embassies abroad, which have been, shall we say, pretty much entirely bizarre. The people I’ve dealt with, by and large, have been rude and unprofessional.

So, what I was wondering was - do you have any stories to share? What have your experiences been like? Positive ones, negative ones, weird ones - they’re all welcome.

Thanks very much, eh? :wink:

Edward Lakewood

No juicy stories, but an observation based on an experience I had renewing a passport. It took the agent the longest time to understand why I wanted to renew a passport that still had 10 months validity on it. When I explained that it was a condition to renew my local work permit that my passport be valid for more than a year, the agent obviously had no clue what I was talking about. I’m convinced that it just comes down to the fact that a lot of the people who work for these offices have a pretty priviledged status here and have a lot of everyday details taken care of for them. Consequently, they don’t always completely understand the rules and conditions of the local system that the citizens they represent need to abide by in order to live here.

What have some of your experiences been? You mentioned rude and unprofessional - share some of them; they might give posters a better idea of what you’re looking for.

I had a rude exp. in Korea. But I had a good exp. in Japan. I think the thing that gets me most is the people working at the most important window/counter/booth never seem to understand what you want. And both of the people were not native English speakers.

I dunno if this is correct but I think the embassies/consulates are not put here to service Canadians necessarily. That last point might be worth looking into. They always seem to be telling us, at our most dire need, that they can’t interfere, or whatever. They never seem to be very happy dealing with their own citizens for some reason and are very quick to show that.

I will be dealing with the consulate in Taipei soon regarding passport renewal so I’ll let you know!

Cheers

I had a rude experience in Beijing. I went to register my presence in Beijing, and as it was my first time in China, I was trying to be careful and asked about precautions to take with my passport in case it got stolen. The lady there then got angry and insinuated that I was going to sell my passport. That got me quite mad, and I left.

My experience in Taiwan was better. Oddly, someone at the Taipei office said dealing with their sister office in San Jose was impossible.

Those that I met in social scenes were quite nice. In Beijing, it almost seemed as if everyone was French Canadian.

Thank you for the quick responses.

I thought the bit about Beijing was interesting.

My own experiences occured in Seoul and Taipei. In Seoul the staff promised my friends and I that we’d all receive a monthly newsletter. They really sung its praises, but none of us received a thing besides some 1970s badly typed folder thingy telling us that in the event of war we should go to the nearest US base and get in the back of the line. This was funny given that they kept telling us how important it was to register (because of the conflict) and I’d been told the same in Canada.

Here, the staff have been just plain rude and unhelpful. There’s a security guard there that jumped up and yelled at me, “Ni yao gan ma?” (What do you think you’re doing?) when I went there with my (new) girlfriend. (She was quite put off by her first experience with Canada.) When I told him I was there to renew my passport, he didn’t understand. As far as I could tell, he couldn’t speak a word of English. The staffers only faired marginally better and I even found a mistake on an official stamp. Call me picky, but I expect them to speak English. Then I got 20 Questions regarding why I didn’t know a lawyer, judge, mayor, etc. to act as my guarantor. ‘Why don’t you know one, they kept asking. Why? You must know one. Why’ And on and on it went.

And speaking of guarantors, the person I spoke to didn’t understand me when I asked about 6 times for an ‘In Lieu of Gurantor’ form.

And they weren’t much friendlier to the locals. One staffer kept rudely flashing some sign to people that said, more or less, ‘I’m on the phone, so please bugger off.’ Perhaps people were supposed to direct their inquiries to the plant in the corner. I don’t know.

Anyway, these aren’t shocking anecdotes, but I think there’s a pretty obvious pattern of unfriendliness and incompetence. I just thought that perhaps Canadians at home would be interested in knowing about it.

So, again - I’d love to hear anyone’s stories. Any good Canadian customs yarns? From what I’ve observed, they aren’t exactly a picture of courtesy and professionalism either.

Thank you all again. Good luck,

Ed Lakewood

What do the front window people get all day?
I’ve lost my passport and have no copies of certificates and have no idea how to get them. I’m booked on a flight leaving in 3 hours.
Find me a job!
I need $200 now.
I’ve got a penile ulcer and want you to call an English speaking doctor and pay for the treatment.
I’ve run out of money and need you to fly me home.
I’ve been arrested - get me out of jail.
I entered this country on one passport but want to be treated as a citizen of a different country for my work permit.
I invested in a scheme/business/scam, lost all my money and want you to sue the bad guys.
I want to use you photocopier.
I’ve come to pick up my mail.
Pick my family up at the airport on Wednesday.
Book me a hotel room.
What do you mean I need a visa?
Where is the long-term luggage room?
Where is my invite to the National Day party?
My daughter is doing a project on your country please send/fax material to her now.
What time is it in Toronto?
I want to buy a house in Banff - give me the number of a good realtor.
And so on…

If you have a real problem with rudeness or uncooperative staff write to your MP with dates, names and times.

I didn’t really have a bad experience renewing my passport. Just that I fell asleep waiting (only 1 window was open while the waiting area was filled with people). And I had to go there twice because they didn’t tell me that I had to make 2 copies, by hand, no photocopies allowed. And when asked why they needed 2 copies, the reply was “we send one copy to Ottawa for processing, one copy for filing here.” And I got a blank stare when I asked why they couldn’t use a photocopied form for filing. They must think I’m :loco:

Don’t be too hard on the staff!!! :smiling_imp: Compared with the British or American foreign services, Canadian diplomats are paid like shit – at least in the lower and middle range positions. For higher positions, you need to be politically connected or a major Ottawa ass-kisser. An insider at DFAIT told me that the turnover is extremely high and that most people leave within five to 10 years for economic consulting and “Range Rover” NGO type of work.

[quote=“Ed Lakewood”]
Here, the staff have been just plain rude and unhelpful. There’s a security guard there that jumped up and yelled at me, “Ni yao gan ma?” (What do you think you’re doing?) when I went there with my (new) girlfriend. (She was quite put off by her first experience with Canada.) When I told him I was there to renew my passport, he didn’t understand. As far as I could tell, he couldn’t speak a word of English. The staffers only faired marginally better and I even found a mistake on an official stamp. Call me picky, but I expect them to speak English. Then I got 20 Questions regarding why I didn’t know a lawyer, judge, mayor, etc. to act as my guarantor. ‘Why don’t you know one, they kept asking. Why? You must know one. Why’ And on and on it went.[/quote]

most of the people i’ve dealt with in the past were not much better. the lady at the front counter has always been decent (not better), but the staffers were not great. this does seem to be changing though - the last time i went in to get my son’s citizenship/passport stuff in order, the staffer was excellent. she went out of her way to make things easier for us, as it’s a pain going into taipei from taoyuan.
they might have asked you the questions about the guarantor b/c they want to save you money - if you don’t have one, you have to pay about $1200 to have an official sign it. you can get someone to sign for you, and then mail pictures in. doctor/dentist are easier options for guarantor.

the guard is another matter - not sure what the deal is with him. you may want to write about how you have to go through the metal detector when you enter the office, but if you leave and then come back, you don’t need to go through again. waste of time/$ …

lotsa people don’t bother to notice that someone is on the phone, and continue to ask questions etc. while not the friendliest people, i doubt the sign said bugger off. :wink:

in my experience, those guys are absolutely the worst. it’s harder to go home for a visit every time without being rudely questionned. i’ve been accused of carrying “something bad”. repeated pleas to just open the damn thing and check were ignored - they just asked again about what “bad things” i was carrying. 30 minutes later, got to leave - they never looked in the bloody bag. :s

I recently renewed my passport and there was no problem. The people I spoke to were kind and friendly. I did not have a guarantor but this was no problem. I simply filled out the form and handed it in. No questions asked. The lady at the counter checked my forms, made a few corrections, and they mailed me my new passport in a month or so.

[quote=“xtrain”]
you may want to write about how you have to go through the metal detector when you enter the office, but if you leave and then come back, you don’t need to go through again. waste of time/$ …[/quote]

Or why everyone on official business has to go through it but the kuai di and bien tang delivery monkeys don’t…

Yeah,

The lack of English and common courtesy is one thing, but the guard was quite another. I understand why they need security - I believe there was a bomb threat at a Canadian embassy in Tunisia (or Tanzania, I forgot which) recently, and I don’t really mind having to go through a metal detector, but it was just his attitude that really got me.

He thrust an A4 paper with instructions on it (in lieu of not being able to speak), and when I went to take it so I could read it, he pulled it back as if to say, ‘Hands off.’ I simply couldn’t read the thing from a meter away and at an odd angle. What was I going to do with it? Turn it into a weapon?

Oh, by the way - the woman’s phone sign didn’t actually say ‘bugger off’ (Sorry, perhaps I didn’t make that clear) - but, sort of like with the guard, that’s the message she was conveying by holding it up and pointing at it with a scoul on her face. The woman who she was doing it to wasn’t bothering her at all. She was just standing there. I thought it was pathetic.

And as for unusual / annoying requests, mine was simply, ‘I’m here to renew my passport.’ Not that unusual really.

Essentially, all I’m saying is that, in my humble opinion, there ought to be a minimum standard in terms of service. There’s no excuse for being rude. Period. And I certainly don’t think low pay - if in fact they are paid poorly - should be one. Even if they were doing it voluntarily, they ought to be friendly. Now, I know it’s not always possible for that to happen, but I think they ought to try. If I were employed at the Taiwanese consulate in, say, Toronto I wouldn’t dream of imparting that I was busy on the phone by holding a plaquard up to the person on the other side of the protective glass in an ‘Oh, for the love of God! Would you go away!’ manner. Really, I wouldn’t. Even on a bad day.

But anyway… how 'bout that NHL?

Thanks very much for the reponses. Keep 'em coming.

Ed

Just my experience- have been dealing with these people for 17 years now in Taiwan and have always found them friendly, helpful and willing to go out of their way to overcome the various paperwork foul-ups I’ve dumped in their laps. No complaints!

(And they threw some great Christmas parties in Beijing- of course, that was twenty years ago)

Just want to add that despite my one bad experience in Beijing with the one lady, I had a very easy time in HK renewing my passport. Friendly, quick, courteous, and painless.

The guard is a problem in Taipei. His job isn’t made any easier by the fact that they put the metal detector contraption at a right angle to the door. I’ve been to the office several times and I tell him the same thing every time. Move that metal detector!

But the staff have been fine.

I’ve flown into YVR on a few occasions coming from Taiwan and have never had the slightest problem. Last time, I happened to have a bit of crumpled paper in my hand. As the guy was waving us through he said “I’ll put that in the recycling for you.”

I turned to my wife and said “We must not be in Taiwan anymore…”

The only experience I’ve had with the office in Taipei, my Visa credit card was eaten by a bank machine across the street. I couldn’t make head or tails out of the error message I got, so I just took the bank’s phone number to the office and asked the girl if she could call the bank and ask for clarification. She did so immediately, helped me out as best she could and told me to call the office if there was anything else they could do to help. All in all, nothing negative to report.

I am in the process of getting a new passport, and what a hassle :astonished: . I don’t see why the Canadian trade office doesn’t add pages like AIT does. It’s a waste of time, energy and resources to have to go through the seven stages of hell in order to prove you are Canadian, then have to wait 20+ days to get your new passport.

:loco: I think this is something we should seriously complain about.

I had to renew my passport a couple of times in the last decade… The first time, it took less than a week… Now it takes about a month… So make sure you PLAN ahead…

Last time I went back to Canada, the guy at YVR asked me if I had any gifts for my brother…

The second last time I left Canada, the cute Indo-Canadian girl at the last checkpoint asked me to empty my pockets – TWICE… It was as if she could see the two joints in my pockets… I just said, twice, “there is nothing in my pockets…” and cooly kept walking…

cheers…

Again thank you,

I think it’s great that people have had good experiences.

I agree that ‘proving you are Canadian’ is - what’s the word? - absurd. Doesn’t someone in the government know who I am? That guarantor bit is for the bloody birds. The last time I applied for a passport here, I actually knew one of the designated people - the VP of a major bank here. I tutored him for 6 months, he took me out for dinner, we got along really well, etc. etc., but when I asked if he could sign as guarantor he politely refused saying that he was ‘too important’ to sign his name on anything. (He’s extremely wealthy.) At first I was sort of surprised, but then I realized: hey wait a minute. This has nothing to do with him. Chinese people just don’t sign things.

If a form or a procedure could be considered ethnocentric, I think the ‘In Lieu of Guarantor’ form could be classified as such. I mean come on. Knowing the mayor for 2 years? A doctor? They don’t have a GP system here and what? Are they trying to encourge bad health? A police officer? I’m sure one would do it for a bottle of Whisby and a pack of Long Life cigarettes, but they’re supposed to do it for free. And how do they reconcile their stance that ‘in no way are we saying these people are superior’ (not precise wording) given Canada’s supposed socialist/equalitarian ideals?

It’s nonsense is what it is. I mean, you hand in your old passport along with 2 or 3 pieces of Canadian ID and then you still need to find a guarantor? Why? They can’t tell if a passport (in this case: one issued by the same office) is authentic or not. Absurd.

As for customs, I guess my biggest complaint about them is asking me (on 2 occasions) ‘Why do you live in a foreign country?’ and ‘When are you going to find a job in Canada?’

Ummm, how about ‘None of your business.’

Once, an extremeley obese cop stopped me in the corridor just after I stepped off a plane from Hong Kong. I figure he stopped me because a.) I was the only white person in sight and b.) I looked frazzled. I had just caught mono and had to go home to rest. He asked me a bunch of pointless questions and I told him I had mono. He didn’t know what it was. “Mononuclosis,” I clarfied. Nothing. “Glandular fever,” I told him. Blink blink. “I’m extremely contagious,” I said. Amazingly he understood this and let me proceed to customs for another round of pointless questions. ‘When are ya gonna move back to Canada?’ Oh, well. So it goes.

Okay, so I think I have everything in order. Could you let me know if anything is missing.

To get a new passport I need:

2 copies of the form, not photocopied. Can the form be copied? I printed it off the internet, so that shouldn’t matter right? I hate to waste ink printing two copies off. But… :idunno:

The guarantor portion filled out on both forms by a doctor, or some other professional. Does the guarantor also have to sign the back of my photos?

Proof of my citizenship, which I figure my old passport should be okay.
I also heard I needed two pieces of Canadian ID with signatures?

:noway: For God’s sake! What a nightmare, please :help: . I have to come up from the East coast and apply face to face. I guess that is another way of confirming that I am who I say I am, because the guarantor, two pieces of Canadian ID with signatures, old passport, and photos with a guarantors signature just isn’t good enough.