For the last few weeks I have been viewing the Irish passport service website on a daily basis. I have my passport, but the rest of the family have been waiting for theirs since the beginning of March.
The webchat panel is nearly always greyed out - they're too busy to help me. If you hang on there and refresh the page upwards of a hundred times it goes green for a second. You have to be quick and paste your details in before it greys out again and they are, once again, too busy to help me. This has turned into a challenge, a daily game and a way for me to break up the monotony of working from home.
When you do get through to have an actual webchat, the responses can be pretty brusque. I tell myself that they are, after all, very busy disappointing as many people as possible every day and I can't reasonably expect politeness. They are probably working to targets which ensure that they disappoint as many people as they possibly can before they log off. I was, given this context, very surprised with the advice I received from the webchat agent 'helping' me yesterday. As you can see from the transcript below, he thought it appropriate when I asked if he thought the passports would be processed in time for our travel date, to suggest that I pray for them.
Can I suggest to anybody associated with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs that some virtual rosary beads be incorporated into the passport website for this purpose. Perhaps an icon or two could be added also - there are some expanses of blank screen you could play with. A solemn decade or two would pass the time nicely while a passport applicant waits for the short window of opportunity when the webchat panel turns green.
2022-07-11 12:45:59 | John Patrick McGagh: Thank you. Does that mean they will be processed in time?
2022-07-11 12:47:45 | Agent: hopefully this time of the year you can pray and be patience. once the checks are done it will speed up.
2022-07-11 12:48:01 | Agent: As you may appreciate, we have unprecedented high volumes of first\-time applications
2022-07-11 12:48:17 | John Patrick McGagh: OK, thanks for your help
2022-07-11 12:48:33 | Agent: we are trying our best to process them quickly
2022-07-11 12:48:40 | Agent: Thank you for contacting the Passport Service, have a lovely day
2022-07-11 12:48:58 | System: The agent has ended this chat.