Cox & Kings and the Case of My Missing Passport

Line outside of Cox & Kings

Cox & Kings and the Case of My Missing Passport

Since I was a little girl, I have dreamed of going to India. It has always seemed magical to me, a place I know I would easily fall in love with. Earlier this year, I believed that my dreams of visiting had finally come true. That was until Cox & Kings got a hold of my passport, and now, they don’t seem to want to give it back.

On June 5th, over three weeks ago, VisaHQ sent over an e-mail informing me that my passport had been submitted to Cox & Kings, the company processing Indian visas. I felt confident that my visa had more than enough time for processing and even planned to get my Russian visa afterwards.

When VisaHQ wasn’t giving me the answers I wanted, I decided to go directly to Cox & Kings to get everything straightened out. Or, so I thought.

I arrived at the building yesterday at 11:30am and was told that I should come back at 4:00pm for pick up. When I told the security guard, who wouldn’t let me anywhere near the office, that I had no idea if my passport was even ready, he told me to come back at 3:00pm. I wasn’t excited about wasting all that time when I had so much to pack, but I was hopeful.

At about 3:15pm, I arrived back at Cox & Kings and was greeted by an already long line, still I was hopeful. We were told that we would be allowed in at 4:00pm, but they didn’t actually start taking people until 4:40pm. The only people allowed inside were the first twenty-one, and I assumed we’d eventually follow, but that never happened. No one was allowed in and no one came out; my hopes began to crumple.

Line outside of Cox & Kings

Now, in the sun, we waited and waited for the security guard and man in charge to tell us what to do. They started to take twenty papers at a time, not letting us inside, but telling us that they would check if our passports had been returned from the consulate. Then, they’d come downstairs and either hand back a passport or tell the person to come back Monday. The people who were told to come back Monday were yelled at if they wanted to ask a question and were told that the visa was not upstairs and that they needed to leave.

The frustration began to set in, as many of the people waiting had spent several days waiting in this line at Cox & Kings, each day they were treated the same. The man in charge was condescending and patronizing as he spoke to all who waited outside. As if he was a man with way too much power, and we were all at his mercy.

When he came downstairs with someone’s passport, he acted as if he should be showered with excessive words of gratitude, as if we, paying customers, owed him everything for receiving our passports. If he did not have a passport or explanation, and someone got upset, he handled it as if he was talking to children and refused to even talk to concerned customers. Two people even called the police to assist them, and I learned that this is an almost daily occurrence, though nothing seems to change.

Eventually, the passports coming out belonged to people standing behind me, and not once was my presence acknowledged, so I just waited there. Slowly, people began dispersing and a small crowd was all that was left. There were about fifteen of us who had stayed the whole time, and at that point, he brought those who remained upstairs. It was 8:45pm, and I was exhausted from standing the entire afternoon and evening.

I don’t know what made me believe that getting upstairs was my golden ticket, but my hopes once again dissipated as I was greeted with many others who had clearly been there a while. We were told that our cell phones must be away, and that we would sit there and wait while names of those passports just returned from the consulate were read. It was pointless, and not one person who was upstairs actually left with a passport.

We were the ones with the problems, the serious problems, the lost passports, but nothing was being done about that. Instead, we were asked to leave pieces of paper with our names and telephone numbers so that they could call us if our passports had been returned. I left at 10pm feeling hopeless, as though deep down I knew my trip to India wasn’t going to happen when I thought it was.

In traffic, I thought of the way we had been treated, and how incredibly unfair it was. I feel as though I am being punished for wanting to visit India. The way the employees behaved was unacceptable and the way we were spoken to was appalling.

I realize that the workers are under stress, but what I witnessed was not a stressful environment, but an unwillingness to work with people and come up with a solution. Instead, I have received no answers and there is no one for me to turn to and no choice but to cancel tomorrow’s flight.

The phone numbers provided by Cox & Kings are answered in India, providing no help. We all shared our stories of this on line last night. No one in the office will even talk to you or answer a question, so I’m not sure how I am ever supposed to find out where my passport is. I’ve written to the consulate, left messages on their machine, and sent e-mails to the media. I am also considering speaking to a lawyer, and at least filing a police report because at this point, I have no other choice but to believe that my passport has been stolen.

Something needs to be done about this situation, and not just for me, but for anyone who has been involved in this process. It’s degrading and there is such a lack of customer service and professionalism, it’s a wonder this company is even in business. If you’re planning on applying for a visa for India, my advice is to wait until this mess with Cox & Kings is sorted; I wouldn’t trust anything of value with this company.

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Comments (46)

  1. Traveling Ted

    I wonder if this is retribution for the way the Indian diplomat was treated when she was arrested? I almost hope it is because if it is just the normal way of doing business, then it is just horrendous. Sorry, you had to go through this.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Ted. Not sure what the reason, but I do know that the people I dealt with were awful. There were people working hard upstairs, I saw those people, but the people in charge were absolutely awful. This is a pretty nice telling of what happened.

  2. Erik

    I’ve never had any desire to visit India, and, from the sounds of this, they are completely unworthy of the tourist dollars spent in their country. If this is the company India chooses to use, then we should stop going and see how their economy handles that loss of revenue.

    1. The World Wanderer

      I know, Erik. This was a lot of the talk on the line. India is going to start losing tourists and their money because the process is so horrific.

      1. Deep

        I think you must file a police complaint. It’s absolutely necessary. Besides doing all that you already are, this could be a fastest way of dealing with the situation. All other ways surely will pressurise the authority but may take time. I am really really sorry you had to go through this.

        I dont think Cox and Kings is an Indian company. However it will be wrong to generalise entire ‘India’ experience, because of this. Sure there are extremely negative things, stereotypical or not, but there is much more to India than those. I being a proud Indian detest when it happens and feel ashamed because it creates a bad image of India. But I believe that’s no reason to generalise India.

        1. The World Wanderer

          I completely agree. I have to tell you that it in no way has affected my view of India. In my eyes, India will always been held high, as a place I’ve wanted to dream. This has only made me upset of the way the situation was handled. The people I dealt with were not Indian, but the poor people outside, the people waiting were, and I empathized with their situation. Many couldn’t get home to see loved ones, while I was just missing out on my dream trip. I don’t want this to affect anyone’s view on India, just on the company and the way it’s run.

          I agree that I have no choice but to file a police report. Hopefully, that will resolve something. The police are called every day, but from what I saw it barely made a difference.

  3. Raul (@ilivetotravel)

    Cox & King should be reported to the better business bureau and the Embassy of India must take responsibility for choosing a vendor who is so horrible at processing visas to India.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Agree, Raul. Reported them today, so hopefully that will lead to something. Trying to reach out to anyone I can.

  4. Leah

    This is just terrible. It’s awful to feel so helpless. I hope they get the passport in your hand soon and these people are held accountable.

    1. The World Wanderer

      I hope so too. At this point, I just want the passport back, I’ll find a way to get the visa on my own.

  5. Clementine Buttercup

    I always feel nervous handing my passport over to a company. It’s similar to sending it into a black hole. Hope this gets resolved soon.

    1. The World Wanderer

      So true! This time I was less worried, and look what happened!

  6. Toni

    Oh Erin, you must feel so stressed out and hopeless. I really hope you get to India at some point and that this doesn’t taint your experience but you’re a lot calmer than I would be right now. I hope your situation gets sorted as soon as possible – this really is a disgraceful way for a company to behave!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Toni! It’s been a rough few days. Today was the hardest because it was the day I was supposed to leave, but I have a few leads, and I am hoping this will all lead to getting my passport back in a timely manner.

  7. Lisa

    That’s a terrible disappointment and so frustrating. I hope something positive can come from this situation. I am sorry.

    1. The World Wanderer

      That’s my hope too, Lisa. I’m a big believer is the idea that everything happens for a reason. Still, I had to write this to tell the world about what an incompetent company CKGS is.

  8. Hannah Wasielewski

    What a terrible story. I’ve been fortunate enough not to use a visa company for any past visas I’ve gotten, but I know it’ll probably happen one day. Thanks for sharing so people in the future know not to use this company!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Apparently, they are the only company you can use, though I have heard it’s possible to apply in person at the embassy. If you plan on heading to India, I’d suggest that first. In the past, when applying directly to an embassy, it’s been such an easy process. This was the exact opposite.

  9. wisemonkeysabroad

    OMG – that is awful! You poor thing…. Hope this gets sorted soon. How very frustrating!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks! Yea, it’s been a rough few days, especially missing today’s flight and all, but I do believe that things were meant to be, so we’ll see where I end up. 🙂

  10. Ravi

    A year and a half ago when I applied for India visa, it was through a company called Travisa located in Midtown East. They were not great as I had to go stand in the queue about 2-3 days before I finally got my passport with approved visa. Did not know that the Indian Embassy has now switched to Cox and Kings (a Mumbai based Colonial era company).

    I am sorry to hear about your travails. Did you get back your passport? I do hope you get a chance to visit India soon. And yes, the best North Indian food is to be had in Delhi (Delhi Haat, Chandni Chowk & Karol Bagh). Bangalore is a good place for South Indian food.

    You have a wonderful travel blog. Best Wishes.

  11. zhi liu


    I am going through the similar pain…. I applied at 6/20 and my status only shows “in process”, I have been that silly place four times and each time was pushed back and forth by their “employees” like a Ball. at this point, I just want to get my passport back and it looks like nobody knows where my passport is.

    Oh, I did managed to talk to their supervisors and they did introduced me to their so called “escalation team” who did promised to call me back the next day, of course they didn’t and when I call back their number, the VM was full!

    I finally got their manager, the person who supposed to charge the entire building, he said he worked on this today and so far no response.

    I am honesty not sure what to do next, who is the next level I should get? which layer I should talk to, whether or not a police report helps. This is purely insane!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Hi Zhi,
      So sorry you are going through the same issues I did, clearly nothing has improved. I e-mailed anyone I could get an e-mail address from CKGS, Cox & Kings, and the Indian embassy, as well as left telephone messages. Calling CKGS doesn’t help because they are in India, and don’t entirely understand what is going on. I also heard that each time you call it begins a new process to escalate, which slows the process. My thought is that they are so disorganized and don’t entirely know what to do, and they lose passports and applications left and right. I even heard a story about them sending passports and checks to someone who had applied for their visa!
      I am not sure if the police will help, but you could call the state department and police and report a stolen passport. I didn’t have to get to that point, thankfully. But, I did file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. My advice is don’t go back there, it’s too much, they are absolutely horrible to the people waiting for their visas. No such thing as customer service! I would e-mail and call anyone you can and file complaints. This is what I did and I got my passport/visa back, even though I had to cancel my flight and travel plans. Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

      1. zhi liu

        hank you Cox&Kings for letting me know where my passport is! After i submitted the application 20 days ago and charged my credit card, after I been there three times and been pushed back and forth, left to right like a ball, after talked to a few “supervisors” and been introduced to so called “escalation team” who promised to call me the next day, after received no call of course and no response when I sent email and a Full VM when I called back, after I visited the forth time and act I can never image I could, after you been a little scared and finally let me meet the manager, after another two days of waiting without any update, today, You finally called. “We have found your passport!” you said. Apparently, you put someone else’s visa into my passport. “Damn it!” I can image you said that after you found out this mistake originally and you must carefully put my passport in some secret corner that nobody could easily find. “Oh, do you still need your India Visa?” you asked. “We will re file your application today Free of Charge!, it will take another two weeks SINCE you are NOT US citizen, but we will definitely help rush it!”, “no, thank you, no need to rush it” I said,” I am really cool”.

      2. chicago_revathi

        Not going to India ? See… C&K helped you out, after all.

        1. The World Wanderer

          I didn’t get to India because I missed my flight and lost my money. I don’t think C&K helped me out at all. What they did was ruin my summer plans.

  12. Gertrude Smodden

    Here’s my article on Cox & Kings. Thanks for sharing your story.

  13. Radzms

    When I saw the picture posted of the line, I thought it was my pictures posted on FB, but then sadly realized it was a different day different time. and even sadder, it is happening on a daily basis, My experience is similar albeit , the ending is tht I did get my passport, but with the mental agony of going thru this experience, I swore never to apply to CKGS again.

    After applying in person , i received an email stating my application was withdrawn and reapplied again, no clue till now why and wat happened , So here i go today to collect in person, as repeated fone calls and emails to ckgs did not help. Standing outside on the street in temperatures hitting 90 were fifty + applicants, children and senior citizens included to collect passports . after 2 hrs of standing outside the security guard who repeatedly asked us not to ask him any questions coz he “did not know anything” collected our receipts and two hours later came outside calling Out random names and just hands out ppt without checking any ID on the street !!!!
    I did call abcnews while standing in line, but no one came , I Hope more people call, and more people complain so that it gets on the news and gets someones attention as LOST US PASSPORTS are NOT A JOKE.

    1. Ali

      Cox & Kings is horrible. They are the worst I have come across. They kept blaming the embassy and I believed them. Until the embassy called me and said that the passport has been issued and its with Cox & Kings. They are the Indian babus here in Houston. My wife and daughter are suppose to fly tomorrow and are yet to receive their passport with the Indian visa. I will do everything possible to make them pay for this.

      1. The World Wanderer

        So sorry that you are still dealing with their issues. I would have thought things would have been better by now, but clearly they aren’t. I missed my flight, and my entire trip, due to issues with them, so I completely understand. File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and file a police report if necessary. I wish you all the best! I understand what it’s like to be in your position.

        1. Immitime

          (Passport Renewal) CKGS has been great as per my own experience and family’s experience. they have great customer service with in a week we got our passport back. Now they have improved a lot. Not like previous. the above commentator ALI.. the name says all.

          1. The World Wanderer

            I actually have to agree that things are a bit better. I got my passport for India last year and everything worked out well. That summer when this happened things were such a mess. It was frustrating that I didn’t get to go, but at least I was able to remedy that. 🙂 I’m also glad that visas are for 10 years now! Hopefully, when I need another one, it will still be easy and painless. 🙂 Glad to hear things went well for you!

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  16. Deepa

    Hey Erin
    So did you file police complaint and let State Dept know of forcibly holding of your passport ? any results ? I applied for my husband’s visa in person 2 months back submitting all documents as stated online.. After 1 month they said I did not submit any documents!!!! Later “ESCALATIONS” team started asking for documents again which I provided, no response.. I’m of Indian ORIGIN now a US citizen but so ashamed of being a past Indian!!! wish I could change that and didn’t have any relatives back home for whom we would go… I wouldn’t even spit on India had it been not for my ailing father-in-law who is in a very fragile health.. let me know if you heard of any success post lodging a police complaint or a case in court..

  17. Cory

    I’ve had my passport submitted to CKGS for 7 weeks now and it’s still in process and every call I make does nothing to move this along. I’m based in Utah so can’t go stand in line making it nearly impossible for me to do anything but call. If I don’t have my passport in my hands by next Friday, I can’t go and I’ll be out of thousands of dollars.

  18. chicago_revathi

    India is not a good tourist location. Cox and Kings is giving you the right pre-travel experience for a stay in India. After C&K, if you still think of visiting India, you’d be all set to find your customer service experiences within India as good as C&K, and occasionally even better. It is all a cunning plan, to prepare the traveler to India.

    1. The World Wanderer

      I understand that things are run differently in India, but for a company to lose my passport for 25 days and cause me to miss, not only, my trip to India, but every other part of my summer trip, is not okay. I would have been prepared to visit, I knew what to expect. However, because they lost my passport, I was unable to go. I will get there one day.

  19. Tony

    I have sent my passport on July 3rd 2014 . Cox and King rep signed and recieved my passport . Until this moment no one knows where is my passport and they’re not giving me anything what i need to know . Does anyone have any suggestions what should i do .?

  20. File_Police_complaint

    You guys have all rights to File Police complaint on CKGS, only in that case you get Justice

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  24. John

    I am undergoing similar issue with Cox and Kings at Chicago. They took my passport and fees but its been a month and they can’t find my passport. There is no direct number to call their Chicago office because all their calls land in India and all they do it add notes to the help desk ticket about my frustration. They don’t know any better than me about the whereabouts of my passport and the people in Chicago never calls you. There is no way to contact the consulate and I sent an email to consulate from their website which bounced back. Does this fall under a police complaint?

    1. The World Wanderer

      Oh no, I’m so sorry you are going through this. I thought by now they would have things a bit more settled. I would file a police complaint because your important document is with them. I would also file a complaint with the better business bureau. Best of luck!

  25. Mukesh

    My Dad is a US citizen for the past 15 yrs. and he had to apply for apply for an OCI card and he submitted his old (cancelled) Indian Passport and current US Passport to this company through FedEx mail. To be more precise I personally helped him in organizing the documents and sending it through the mail (following all their specifications).
    Now they are saying they never received the original passports. I ‘am literally furious at this company for losing my Dad’s Passports especially US Passport. . I ‘am 100% sure that they misplaced the documents. The hardest part is there is no way to prove our part.
    I ‘am an Indian by origin and I feel terrible and horrible after reading this blog and going through this situation. I ‘am not going leave this and pretend like this is the Indian way of doing things. I ‘am planning to bring this to the media. I don’t want another person to go through this mess.

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