Tuesday, April 15, 2014

BLS Canada is BS

Everything about BLS, India's privatized Visa and Passport processing service, is dismal. My first impression of this company was negative, as they are located in the dingy basement of an otherwise impressive looking highrise on Howe Street in Vancouver. The underground service centre lacks any fresh air, any natural light, and any decor. Reflecting the awful location of this bureaucratic failure of a company is the customer service. Upon my first visit for an Indian Tourist Visa application, the grumpy receptionist took a look at my well-worn and washing machine-tested passport and said I had to go the the Indian Consulate one block away to check whether my document would be accepted. I went over to the Consulate and they said my passport was passable. So, I went back to BLS, was shown to a bizarre and completely empty whitewashed waiting room, and was then finally beckoned into a messy backroom office to see a Visa clerk. I paid my $75 for BLS to process my Visa and was told it would be a week.

Great! Easy! Or so I thought, until I received a call a few days later saying my application had been rejected because my passport was damaged. I needed a *new* passport, and I needed to pay *another* $75 fee to BLS.

It is totally unacceptable that BLS a) accepted my wrinkly passport when it is their job to process complete Visa and Passport applications, and b) charged me twice and, c) could not tell me how long it would take to process my Visa...when I had an impending trip planned.

BLS' ineptitude extends all the way to its automated status update delivery system. I received six emails over a span of two days "updating" me as to the status of my Visa, but when I did a manual update check it said my Visa was already back at BLS and ready for pick-up.

This company is not representing India properly and is dissuading potential tourists through their incompetence. Visit Nepal instead.

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