Boss of passport helpline moans about 'disgraceful' customer service

Boss of passport helpline that has been slammed over its handling of holidaymaker complaints goes on Twitter rant to moan about ‘disgraceful’ customer service at other firms and ‘shameful’ travel delays

  • Gary Slade, CEO of Teleperformance, criticised other firms’ customer service
  • Teleperformance was given a five-year  £22.8m Home Office contract 
  • The company runs the passport advice service – which has been slammed 
  • Travel and passport chaos continues with Brit holidaymakers facing the brunt 

The boss of a passport helpline that’s been slammed over its handling of holidaymakers’ complains went on a Twitter rant moaning about the ‘disgraceful’ customer service at other companies. 

Gary Slade, the CEO of Teleperformance, made a series of complaints about ‘shameful’ travel delays despite the fact that the firm he works for has been at the centre of the UK’s passport backlog crisis. 

Teleperformance, which was handed a five-year £22.8million contract by the Home Office to run the passport advice service, was recently criticised for giving out ‘poor, misleading’ guidance. 

Hundreds of Brits waiting weeks for their passports have complained about waiting hours for calls to be answered and the company was slammed for not responding to emails quickly enough.

But tweets unearthed by the i paper have revealed that Mr Slade himself has kicked up a fuss about poor customer service – despite the criticisms his own company have faced on a national level. 

Gary Slade, the CEO of Teleperformance, has come under fire for a series of unearth tweets where he slammed the customer service at various companies – despite the fact that his own firm have been scrutinised for their role in the passport advice helpline

Mr Slade has been criticised for the remarks – considering his staff have been accused of ‘poor’ performances and giving out ‘misleading’ advice 

British travellers have been pushed from pillar to post in recent months – with continual passport backlogs, airport staff shortages and flight cancellations as the industry still recovers from the pandemic.

Airports up and down the country have struggled to deal with demands while customers face huge queues and baggage chaos.  

Holidaymakers have also been forced to miss holidays because of passport delays – with Brits paying a total of £5.4million in April alone to use the fast-track application.

Bosses for Teleperformance were hauled in front of the Home Office to explain the passport issue in April – and were allegedly told to improve their performance quickly.

Writing about Gatwick Airport in 2019, Mr Slade said: ‘Sorry to rant but how hard is it – 28 booths at passport control – 5 are open – shame on you.’

In another, he slammed South West Trains, saying: ‘Once again delayed once again no information – not sure why it’s so hard to tell people what’s going on.’ 

Mr Slade has come under fire for the remarks – considering his staff have been accused of ‘poor’ performances and giving out ‘misleading’ advice. 

Hundreds of people pictured waiting outside HM Passport Office in Liverpool on May 31 amid the passport delays – which have plagued holidaymakers in recent months

Mr Slade ranted about how poor the customer service was at other firms in the past, as revealed on his Twitter page

Long lines seen outside the Passport Office in Durham on May 12

Family loses £10,000 ‘holiday of a lifetime’ to Florida due to passport delays – and they fear they’ll never get their money back

A mother-of-one has told MailOnline how her ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ family holiday to Florida had been ruined by the passport fiasco.

Verity Lamb and her husband were hoping to take their 12-year-old son Theo, who is autistic, to the US on Monday in order to visit Walt Disney World in.

Alongside their own flights and accommodation, the couple also paid for flights and a joint villa for her parents as a ‘thank you’ for their help while renovating their home.

Verity Lamb and her husband were hoping to take their 12-year-old son Theo, who is autistic, to the US on Monday in order to visit Walt Disney World in

She said her husband and her son submitted their passport applications in early February, eight weeks ahead of their flight – at a point when they were being advised of a wait of up to three weeks.

But she said that the passports did not arrive in time for their flight on Monday and they had to miss their holiday.

Mrs Lamb says she now stands to lose the money, because their reason for not travelling does not fall under insurance their policy.

‘It was gutting. In the days leading up to it we didn’t sleep. We were on the phone every day and we tried to get our MP involved.

‘One the day we were meant to fly we had booked our flight at 11am and I was just sitting there watching the clock as it ticked to 11 and then I thought: ‘Well that’s it’.

‘We had planned to go to Disney and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge because Theo is a massive Star Wars fan. He wanted to build a lightsaber.’

Mrs Lamb said her experience of the Passport Office was a ‘shambles’. She said: ‘They didn’t seem to know what they were doing. We would call for hours and then they would say they would ring back in 48 hours and they never would.

‘It felt like no-one wanted to help us.’

She said they have been unable to get their money back from the holiday firm and insurance company and were currently speaking to the Financial Ombudsman in a final bid to claw back some of their lost £10,000.

Jessica Stokes, a 31-year-old blogger from Kent, said she narrowly avoided missing a £3,500 holiday to Dubai by getting her passport the day before her holiday

Meanwhile, Jessica Stokes, a 31-year-old blogger from Kent, said she narrowly avoided missing a £3,500 holiday to Dubai by getting her passport the day before her holiday

She said: ‘We put my son’s first passport application in back in February and felt we had loads of time.

‘As the date was drawing closer, and I still hadn’t received his passport, I started to make numerous phone calls to their helpline.

‘One phone call I was on hold for one hour and 46 minutes before being cut off. It had at this point passed the ten week deadline and we were due to go away in a week.

‘Eventually, after a total of six hours and 38 minutes in phone calls I managed to get hold of an assessor, who informed me that her offices were closed due to Covid, but she was going to let her team know after the bank holiday Monday, and it will be ready for us to pick up in London on the Tuesday only if pay an extra £100 to fast track it.

‘We took the drive down to London Tuesday morning (the day before our holiday) and arrived at the passport office which was an utter shambles.

‘We were pointed in numerous directions, before a security officer told me the office was closed and that all the staff had gone home. 

‘At this point I was in tears and stated I would not leave until I had my sons passport in my hand, as I was told it was available to collect until 8pm. 

‘An extremely rude staff member then came down, stated that I had to be nice to her if I wanted it, and moaning that she was already 2.5 hours late for finishing work, rolling her eyes and tutting at me the whole time. She eventually beckoned me in, and handed me the passport.

‘I have never in my life dealt with a disgusting, broken service, and we managed to go away on holiday with four hours to spare.’

In another Twitter spat, he wrote about Heathrow Airport: ‘Shambles as ever. 11 hour flight and no stand on arrival – 20 minutes on the tarmac. It’s not like you didn’t know we were coming.’

He then adds in an update: ‘Make that an hour now.’ 

In 2020, Mr Slade tweeted a homeware company: ‘I placed an order with you on the 29th August. You keep delaying the delivery with no communication nor reason. 

‘Getting really fed up – and no doubt will receive a ‘sorry blah blah’ message – can’t even speak to you to cancel the damn thing.’

Writing about another home company, the executive also said: ‘Don’t use this company, on the surface great, if expensive, products – but absolutely no service whatsoever – waiting 3 months for lights that should have been delivered in 2 weeks and no response despite daily requests. AVOID AND DO NOT USE.’ 

It’s believed that Teleperformance, a French outsourcing giant, has received government contracts worth more than £430million since the early days of the pandemic. 

Mr Slade and Teleperformance UK have been contacted for comment. 

Experts have warned that passport delays could cost Britons up to £1billion in cancelled holidays over the summer, with only half of all applications estimated to be processed on time. 

In April this year, Boris Johnson threatened to ‘privatise the a*** off’ the Passport Office and DVLA unless they step up services.

The PM laid into the ‘post-Covid manana culture’ at some government agencies as he urged the Cabinet to find efficiencies that can help ease the cost-of-living crisis.

The swipe at lingering pandemic practices such as working from home came amid fury at ‘nightmare’ delays in receiving new passports.

Delays in processing passport applications are ‘really disappointing’, the boss of Heathrow Airport said.

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said it is ‘vital’ that people can go on holiday this summer in case the UK reintroduces coronavirus travel restrictions.

It emerged earlier this year that the Passport Office is dealing with a backlog in applications – thought to be reaching half a million in April.

Mr Holland-Kaye said: ‘Normally the Passport Office is very slick in processing passports. It’s really disappointing to hear (about delays).

‘If it’s not resolved, it is going to mean that people can’t get away.

‘After two years of lockdown, we need to make sure people can have a good holiday because many of them have vouchers that they’ve been saving up, they’ve got trips of a lifetime that they’ve put on hold, and we don’t know when things might get closed down again.

‘Making the most of the summer is vital.’

The House of Commons heard about one woman who has waited more than five months to receive her daughter’s new passport, with services branded ‘either really very good or an absolute shambles’.

SNP home affairs spokesman Stuart McDonald asked: ‘All our constituents are having to cancel holidays, miss funerals, rearrange visits, with even a new 10-week target routinely being failed.

‘What will be done to avoid this predictable mess getting worse? And can we be assured that the 10-week target will not be lengthened further as we approach the summer?’

Home Office minister Kevin Foster said: ‘We don’t have any intention to further extend that standard.

‘We are at the moment processing most passports well within it, but we would advise people this is a very, virtually unprecedented surge in demand, and if people are planning to travel this summer we would advise them to get their application in as soon as possible.’

He said the Passport Office dealt with a million applications in March, compared with seven million per year before the pandemic.

Conservative MP Simon Hoare described the backlog as ‘unprecedented, true, but foreseeable, absolutely’.

Meanwhile, a 22-point plan to tackle flight disruption this summer has been unveiled by the Government.

The strategy is aimed at avoiding a repeat of the chaos seen at UK airports during the Easter and Jubilee holidays.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said there is ‘no excuse for widespread disruption’ and holidaymakers ‘deserve certainty’.

Tens of thousands of passengers have suffered flight cancellations and huge queues at airports in recent months.

Demand for travel will surge again as schools in Scotland and Northern Ireland break up for summer this week, while the academic year for those in England and Wales ends in around three weeks.

The Government’s action plan includes a number of measures previously announced, such as encouraging airlines to make sure their schedule are ‘deliverable’, an amnesty on slot rules and permitting new aviation workers to begin training before passing security checks.

A new passenger charter will be published in the coming weeks, providing passengers with a ‘one-stop guide’ informing them of their rights and what they can expect from airports and airlines when flying.

Just this morning, Heathrow was plunged into ‘total chaos’ as it forced airlines to cancel or move dozens of flights at the last minute, after returning families were left waiting on the Tarmac for more than an hour.

In a rare ‘schedule intervention’, the west London airport last night told its 20 biggest carriers that they needed to move 30 flights from the morning peak, as the travel hub would not be able to cope with the high number of passengers in its terminals.

It means at least 5,000 travellers woke up to find their flights affected or even cancelled this morning, many of whom took to social media to vent their frustration.

‘Total chaos at Heathrow this morning,’ one tweeted, ‘BA flights cancelled and zero customer service!’

Another branded Terminal 5 a ‘disgraceful shambles’, adding: ‘Left home at 3.30am, checked flight and cancelled on arrival.’

The issues appeared to start overnight, with singer songwriter Stacey Jackson complaining that she had to wait at least two hours on the tarmac after landing because the airport had ‘closed’, before being told they faced waiting until the morning to disembark because there were ‘no staff’ in the airport.

‘This is legitimately nuts,’ she tweeted, ‘Two hours on the tarmac waiting for a gate, no baggage handlers so no bags, passengers and kids exhausted… s**t show!’

She added that when she arrived it was ‘as if they didn’t even know we were arriving’ as there were no baggage handlers, meaning people had to go home without their luggage.

People queue at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 this morning. The airport told its 20 biggest carriers 30 flights needed to be moved from its morning peak today

Passengers line up with their suitcases at check in in Terminal 5 this morning. Flights were cancelled and delayed after airport bosses told airlines it could not cope with the high number of travellers in its terminals today

A group of travellers sits down in Terminal 5 this morning while waiting for their flight. At least 5,000 passengers woke up this morning to find their flights cancelled or delayed

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