Monday, March 28

Italian Consulate - Your government [Not] at work

Countries have Embassies in nearly every country on earth, always in the capital cities, where they can be closer to the machinations of foreign governments.  In smaller but important cities, countries post Consular Offices.  These offices, to plagiarize from the U.S. consular site in Toronto, "provide information on trade, border issues, visas, US citizen services." 
And, for all you travelers out there, may I also remind you that U.S. Citizen services does not include: getting you out of a lousy hotel, wiring money, providing free calls to your parents, you name it.  As a friend once put it to me, "Pretend you're on holiday in DC.  Would you go to the White House just because your wallet was stolen?"  
The Consulate will (try) to provide a replacement passport, suggest tax accountants for foreign residents, and send the body back home.  Nonetheless, they are plagued with every sort of query under the sun.  While they do try to put their best face forward, Americans like to think that our government employees are their personal concierge away from home.
For most people, you only need a foreign consulate if you're planning a trip and need a Visa, or if you're getting married to a foreigner, things like that.  I used the Consulate to obtain my dual citizenship.  For those who have never dealt with bureaucrats, it can be a rude awakening.  They ask for documents that aren't even required, copies time and again on items they claim weren't submitted.  But that was Detroit. For my brother in Boston, it was a cake walk.
The Italian Consulate of Detroit wants to make absolutely sure you understand how Italy works (or doesn't, as the case may be).  For the most basic of services, you must  pass Hercules' 12 trials (except they make them 22) before providing the most basic services, which by law, they are to provide.  They ignore the rules posted on their very own websites, and make them up as they go along.  To make sure you understand how things work in Italy once you'll get there, they will stonewall you should you so much as blink an eye, walk away from the window altogether, or hand you back your documents and tell you to try again - in 2019.
But don't take my word for it -- here's what a few others had to say about the 'services' they received when merely trying to plan a trip to Italy:


For over a month I have been trying to get citizenship and passport answers from the Consulate of Italy in Detroit. I have called at least 3 times a week to try to talk to someone. Every time they transfer me to a voice mail and I never receive a call back. The secretary keeps telling me that if I give her my name and phone number someone will return my call. It’s been over a month and no matter how many times I leave my number they do not call back. I have never had such an issue of dealing with incompetent people in my life. If you are Italian or have any questions in which you need to use a consulate, avoid calling the Detroit branch at all costs.

I have the same concerns. The terrible attitude by the blonde clerk in Detroit Italian consulate made my day the worst. I went to apply for the tourist visa and the woman started talking nonsense in a very rude manner and treated me very badly. I lost the interest to visit Italy and she spoiled my enthusiasm and excitement about our upcoming trip. I do not care any more whether I get a visa or not as I can save money instead of spending thousands of dollars. The lady represented Italy and I am indeed concerned to visit Italy now. I may think about altering my trip to avoid a visit to Italy.

I too had to get my visa from the Detroit Italian Consulate when I married an Italian citizen. They were rude and slow and did not seem to take their jobs seriously at all. I have to confess though, that I get the same crappy service any time I come into contact with our own American government workers. If a foreigner in America judged the entire country by the postal employees it could explain why some people misunderstand or even hate Americans.

The Italian consulate people in Detroit are the most insolent, disgraceful, rude, inefficient lot who are an embarrassment to Italy country and shameful for being here in the USA. At least they should resign, give up their jobs if they don't want to improve their ways and give the baton to the more efficient and productive lot. I had to cancel my ticket and the entire trip because they could not approve my visa in time despite having ample time to review my application. Since they represent Italian people in USA, I wonder if all italian people are like that?

I have been alternately worried, enraged, and confused by the high levels of incompetence and hateful behavior of the Detroit Visa Office. I am seriously worried that I won't get my passport back in time for my trip. When I have called to ask (they've had my stuff for a month now), on the ONE TIME someone answered the phone, the woman was totally rude, nasty, and patronizing--pretty much telling me to not bother her. And I was just politely inquiring! There are only 2.5 weeks before my trip, and they still have my passport. And then today, they were writing me emails saying that I needed to send in documents that I GAVE them WEEKS AGO! It seems that they're JUST NOW reviewing my information and have already lost some things. I would be furious now if I weren't so busy panicking. Can I request that they just send my passport back!? I'd rather go with my tourist visa for 3 months than not be able to go at all. 

Viva la burocrazia e i burocratici!   
And, when you need a personal concierge, you'll most likely find good ones online.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Apparently it's not just Detroit, I had a nightmarish time getting my dual citizenship from the NYC Italian Consulate years ago! Rude, unprofessional, inaccurate, lazy, etc...

Dave514 said...

Francesca:
It;s based on the simple and stupid answer when you ask any Italian anything, the answer is, "No!"



Davide

HighlandJones said...

It's not just the Detroit embassy, add all the UK ones too... and we're in Europe, pfft!
Disgruntled ex Italian

Marco said...

I am Italian, and everyone here is US asks me why I left that beutful country ... bureaucracy? But I found this very funny.

Francesca Maggi said...

Ciao Marco -
You might also get a kick out of this post...Why so many Italians think we're strange to want to live here!

http://burntbythetuscansun.blogspot.it/2012/05/expat-roster-why-italians-think-were.html