By Christopher Elliott
Crista Cloutier pays RushMyPassport.com $227 for an expedited passport. Then the government loses her paperwork, and the company goes dark. Can she get a refund?
Q: I paid RushMyPassport.com for expedited service to apply for a U.S. passport. I could have done it alone, but the company made a compelling pitch. RushMyPassport.com says it delivers your passport “safe, fast and secure” and offers support by email, phone and chat.
In fact, they offered none of those. The government lost my paperwork, and I had to drive three hours in a storm to get a last-minute passport the day before departing for Europe. RushMyPassport.com has never answered the phone nor responded to an email throughout this awful experience. I finally got a guy on chat, but he promised someone would call me right back and guess what? They never did. I would like a refund of my $227 processing fee.
— Crista Cloutier, Scottsdale, Ariz.
A: RushMyPassport.com should have done what it promised — it should have rushed your passport. Instead, the government lost your application, and you never heard from the company when you tried to fix the problem.
Express passport services can be helpful when you’re trying to get a passport quickly. They can cut the red tape of having to make an appointment and drive to the nearest acceptance facility. But they are also expensive and, as you found out, things can go wrong.
It looks as if the government lost your paperwork. That’s not the fault of RushMyPassport.com. But the company could control how it handled your situation.
I reached out to David Pacella, the senior director of strategic partnerships at RushMyPassport.com’s parent company, Expedite Travel.
The company checked its phone records and didn’t see any inbound calls from your number. It says it reached out and sent a dispute form, but it never received a response from you.
“But I want to impress this point that a large part of her grievance is with the Department of State. Unfortunately, there is little we can do in the circumstance of the government losing documents,” he told me. “Fortunately, it’s quite rare, but obviously, when it happens, it’s terrible.”
The company also said it was concerned that you couldn’t reach it after the government lost your documents.
“We take that pretty seriously,” says Pacella.
I’ve been doing this long enough to know that company’s call records don’t always agree with a customer’s call records. You shared your chat transcripts and a timeline. It looks like you had to request a dispute form three times before you received it, and ultimately, RushMyPassport.com didn’t receive the form you sent. That sounds like a technical issue on the company’s side.
RushMyPassport.com apologized for your problems and refunded the $227 processing fee.
Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (elliottadvocacy.org), a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at [email protected] or get help by contacting him at elliottadvocacy.org/help