A PENSIONER has criticised the Passport Office for a series of delays and blunders that led to the loss of her dream holiday.
Retired nurse Eileen Shepherd, 67, missed out on a £1,700 cruise after repeated attempts to renew her passport failed.
Shortly after booking the cruise, Ms Shepherd realised her passport was due to expire and attempted to renew it online.
Unable to print out the declaration form necessary to complete the application, she requested one from the Passport Office on Friday, April 18, several weeks before she was due to travel.
She said: “More than a week later it still wasn’t there. I phoned them and they said they’d send another but that never arrived either.
“The holiday was getting dangerously close and I wanted to go to the Passport Office in person to get it sorted quickly.
“When I phoned, a supervisor told me I couldn’t do that as my application was already being processed.
“They agreed to cancel the application so I could go to my local office in person and said they’d send me an appointment.
“The application was never cancelled and then I received the declaration form.
“I posted it straight away and it was signed for the next day but they claimed they hadn’t received it for another four days.”
Ms Shepherd – from Darlington – then agreed to pay extra to fast track the application in a bid to resolve the issue in time for her trip.
However, the passport was not received in time and Ms Shepherd was forced to abandon her trip.
She said: “I rang again the day before I was supposed to travel and was told there was no way I’d get it in time.
“I was absolutely hysterical as I’d tried every which way but they didn’t apologise, they just say that I shouldn’t have booked the holiday without a passport.
“That might be true but it’s also passing the buck, they had seven weeks and they gave misleading and wrong information.”
The Passport Office claimed a fast track service was never offered in Ms Shepherd’s case but failed to respond to a request for further comment.