Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, November 06, 2006

We're The Feds, Here To Help You

On October 5, a month and a day ago, I flew from Long Beach to Sacramento and received an introduction to inconvenience a la the Transportation Security Administration.

The problem: TSA unpacked my suitcase but failed to repack my shaving kit.

The solution: At 9:30 p.m. I went to a drug store and restocked.

The story: I filed an inquiry that night with TSA. Meanwhile, Jet Blue, on its own, tracked me down and said they had my shaving kit and I could pick it up on my return, which I did.

Following that was a a series of about a half-dozen emails from TSA saying, varyingly, that they acknowledged receiving my email, or they were sorry it was taking so long to get back to me.

Finally, today, one month and one day after the event, I got my Big Response from our faithful federal servants:
Thank you for your e-mail. We apologize for the delayed response due to unusually high e-mail volumes and technical difficulties. We understand that your travel may have already passed, but hope the information provided will be of assistance in your future travel. We apologize if you have received multiple auto replies - we are working to correct this technical problem. We encourage you to check the latest information at

We regret to hear that you had an unpleasant experience and hope the following information is helpful in addressing your concerns.

Please know that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) takes comments such as yours very seriously. TSA is responsible for all passenger and baggage screening to ensure that weapons and other prohibited items are not brought on-board aircraft. One of our key objectives has been to ensure that all passengers consistently receive professional and courteous processing while maintaining our high level of security. We train security screeners to conduct enhanced screening with courteous professionalism in order to treat passengers with dignity and respect. We regret that you feel these high standards were not met.

We monitor the number and nature of complaints we receive to track trends and spot areas of concern that may require special attention. This ongoing process will enable us to ensure prompt, corrective action whenever we determine that security-screening policies need modification or specific employees or screener teams are the subjects of repeated complaints.

Again, we deeply regret any inconvenience or discomfort you may have suffered as a result of enhanced screening procedures. TSA appreciates you for taking the time to share your concerns with us. We are confident that through the concerns brought to us by the traveling public, we will be better able to address problem areas with corrective action.

We continue to add new information and encourage you to check the website frequently for updated information.

TSA Contact Center
Let's see ... 316 words of promises and excuses. And not a word about my shaving kit.

Jet Blue, a free market, capitalist institution. TSA, a federal government bureaucracy.

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