In short, it's because the people who work there are idiots. I mean, class A idiots. They might only take the best and the brightest from places such as Harvard and Stanford (they don't even deign to interview at my alma mater), but these people have zero common sense. To wit:
I have been trying to obtain a visa so I can properly study how to become a despotic ruler. But one needs a visa to do this, and one needs proof that one has enough money to study this to submit an application for a visa.
Thus, on 18 July, I requested such a letter. My appointment with the visa people (which I have already had to postpone once) is 12 August--roughly 4 weeks later. In four week's time, I have learned a year's worth of advanced statistics material. I've attended my first prom. (of the British musical variety--not the high school dance) I've seen Waiting for Godot. I've moved 3 times. I've learned how to say "United Kingdom" in French.
And these people can't properly mail me one stupid letter, so I can study to become a despotic ruler some day.
Why has 4 weeks passed and still no proper visa letter?
July 18: I send email to my banker requesting visa letter. I tell him that this is a standard format--on official letterhead, stamped and list the information that is needed--exact amount in my acct, acct #, etc.
July 21: No reply. I send follow up email asking if he has received my request.
July 22: banker was away for personal reasons. Says he'll get right on it. Let's call this visa letter #1.
Fine. So 4 days lost, but for valid reasons. No big deal. I will be in the UK for another 13 days. Plenty of time for a letter to reach me. I confirm that he has my UK address and wait.
July 29: still no letter. I follow up and ask him when he sent the letter. As a precautionary measure, I ask him to have the letter sent to my address in Djibouti, where I will be flying to in a few days. (This would've been visa letter 1.5 had he sent it out as requested, but he didn't.)
July 30: banker emails me and tells me that the letter (visa letter #1) got sent back to him. He asks to confirm my address.
-I am puzzled by this, b/c I asked my roommates for the exact address. I confirm the address details (which match the address I emailed him); I re-send him the address. I don't want to condescend, but just in case, I remind him that one needs international postage rate, and that one needs to write the country and "Air Mail" on international correspondence.
-At this point, I'm not confident it will get to me by 4 Aug (my departure date), so ask him again to also send it to my address in Djibouti (we shall call this visa letter #2).
-I also reconfirm the exact details of what I need in the letter: bank acct. #, how long I've held the acct, date, amount in account, etc.
-Meanwhile, I fill out an online visa application form and make an appointment at the visa office for 7 August at the Djibouti office.
Aug 5: I arrive in Djibouti; visa bank letter is still not there.
Aug 6: Still no visa letter. I call Mr. Banker to ask him when he sent the letter; he says 31 July. At this point, I also ask him what was wrong with the original letter he was supposed to send to the UK. He tells me he didn't bother writing "UK" or "Air mail". No international stamp, either.
I think to myself, damn. I couldn't even get an interview w/ you guys, and I've known to write Air Mail to (country) on all international correspondences, since about 5, which was evidently when I started writing letters to my grandparents. With help.
-I cancel my visa appt. scheduled for the next day, and reschedule for 12 August.
August 7: Still no visa letter. Just in case, as another precautionary measure (since it was Friday, and if the visa letter (#2) didn't arrive on Saturday, I'd have no recourse to do anything about it till Monday U.S. CA time, by which time it would've been too late. . .), I request that a third letter be expedited to my Djibouti address. (This is visa letter #3.)
Banker obliges; I thank him and obsessively track progress of document.
August 10: I receive visa letter #3. (#2, which he sent out via snail mail is still not here.) I open up visa letter #3, and this is how it reads:
This Letter (sic) is to confirm that Anzu has a valid account with Citibank. She probably has a balance of about _________ in the account. If you need to verify this, please call me at _________.
Probably has a balance of about.
Probably has a balance of about.
Ok, if you worked at an international bank which boasts of being worldly, would you seriously write an official letter that I need as verification in this manner? But here was the letter staring straight at me with those exact words.
People (warning. Lots of expletives ahead. . .), I can't f-ing get a visa to enter the UK with a letter that speculates that I "probably have a balance of about".
Or the U.S. for that matter.
How does anyone with half a brain think that saying I "probably have about" _______ dollars counts as an official document??
This is a f-ing visa letter for f's sake. You know-- an official appeal to the UK government to get permission to live there for a year or so. So I can study to become a despotic ruler and behead everyone who is this stupid. (Ok, not really. It's been 4 weeks since I've requested this letter, and I still don't have a legitimate letter in my hands, I have an appt. w/ the visa office in less than 2 days, and I just spent 4 hours on the phone w/ the Citibank people in the U.S. trying to see what can be done about this. It takes a minimum of 3 weeks to process a visa application, and I need to be back in the UK on September 1. So you do the math. I haven't even mentioned my sick grandmother who I can't visit, until I get this visa pickle squared away. Thus, now you see why I'm not exactly of the most rational disposition right now. . . which is probably a bad time to be posting a blog entry, but I'm on hold and held hostage here while someone in the Citibank Djibouti office checks to see if they can help me. Update: they can't.)
And you wonder why the financial sector is in dire straits.
Also, note to people who know me personally-- if I'm being obsessive and pesky about a request that is important, and state the obvious, now you know why. I mean what 20-something (who works for an international bank) needs to be told that you need to put international postage and the country name on a letter that you send overseas?