Varela Studios | Prepare for New Zealand and Australia: Part 1 (bumps in the road)

Prepare for New Zealand and Australia: Part 1 (bumps in the road)

April 30, 2016  •  Leave a Comment



April 30th, 2016 - Saturday

      This was the last day I had to get the last of the items I was going to need for my trip to the Southern Hemisphere to visit New Zealand and Australia. Naturally being that I have bad luck on the occasions when I really do not need it. I had some bumps in the road that might have blocked me from this trip I have been saving for, had the days approved from my job, and had been looking forward to for almost a year. So here is a bit of what I had to go through and it may help you in the future in case this happens (I hope it doesn't though).

April 13th, 2016 -  Wednesday

I was a victim of theft. So dealing with my horrible insurance company State Farm to get the ball rolling, talking with the investigator, and going to work. I could only do so much in a day.

Previous to this trip I had everything pretty much in place but my bad luck kicked in with my home being robbed. I had all my camera equipment stolen and of course my passport among many other items. (Jewelry, TV's, DVDs, Ipods, X-Box 360, External drives with all my photo images, and important documentation. P.S. Get a safe to keep things like this in and an alarm system that you will turn on{and you need a permit for it as well $50 a year from the city}.)

Mission #1: Get new passport:

Jack Skellington is gaurding my new passport

    Anyway I had to get a new passport which thankfully since I live in the city of Dallas, TX they were able to process this very quickly with a fee of course. The Earle Cabell Federal Building in downtown Dallas has the Passport Agency inside the building. Look for parking in a lot and make to read to amount of time it is to avoid being towed. I got the 2-4hour parking time just as a safety. You never know how long these things can take. Which was about $8. In order to avoid taking forever at the security entry of the building take what you need - paper documents, proof of identity, proof of travel, credit card, and cell phone - you cannot make calls but if you need to look up a phone number you will have it.

Just so you know you should call and make an appointment ahead of time before you go in. Also make sure to download the forms you need for a lost/stolen passport online. There are two forms to fill out prior before anyone will see you at the passport office. You can fill them out there but if you do not have the time to do so before your appointment then they will make you have a seat to do so. Then you will have to get back in line to wait all over again. A real hassle I tell you. They will also need identification i.e Social Security, Drivers License, Birth Certificate, or old Passport.  My social security was stolen and my birth certificate. I only had my drivers license and thankfully an old expired passport that was somehow left behind during the robbery. Also, make sure that you have new passport photos done to give to them. I had a second copy of the one from my old passport and they would not let me use it because it was on my stolen passport. So to save yourself time go to the Walgreens or wherever to get a new passport photo. You will also need proof of travel. So take a printed copy of your travel itinerary confirmation that your received from your airlines or third party i.e - Air New Zealand, Price Line or Fare Boom. Remember your wallet to pay for the fee of a expedite passport. I paid $195.00 and it was ready in 2 days. They will give you a paper detailing when your passport will be ready make sure to have that when you pick up your passport. Make sure to get to the passport office before they close to pick it up. It took me about 20 minutes to get mine. They start calling out your name while you wait in a seat.

Mission #2: Get Visa for Australia:

   Before the robbery I had already got a visa for Australia which was attached to my the stolen passport. $45 is what it costs to have one by the way and they are good for a year.

So I called the number that was on the contact info from my email confirmation of my Visa after I sent them an email about my situation. Well I finally got through to someone but they were in Canada. They explained that Houston's office was closed due to the flooding they just had which caused power outages and people unable to drive on the roads. Just my luck.

So I called again the following day and I finally got through to someone. I explained that my passport that was associated with the Visa for Australia was stolen and I needed it to be transferred to the replacement passport I had just received. They told me that they could not do this. I had the lady on the phone ask her manager and she then transferred the Visa to my new passport.

Fast Forward to me waiting for my plane in San Francisco California Airport when I hear my name being paged overhead to report to the desk at my terminal. I was in the middle of having a delicious chicken sandwich because I was so hungry. I had to wrap what I had not finished eating to go see what the problem was. The airline agent just needed to confirm my flight. But while I was there I asked them to see if my Australian Visa showed up on my passport. The Visa is electronic so I could not see it. They checked and informed me that it was not. They told me that once a Visa is attached to a passport it cannot be transferred. You must get a new one no matter the circumstance. So they were very understanding of my situation and waived the fee to take care of it right there for me.

Mission #3: Get a New Social Security card -

I called the social security number to report that my card had been stolen so they could flag it. I went to get a replacement card at the social security office very early in morning so that I would avoid a large line and having to wait there forever. I got there and the place was already packed. I took filled out my information on the Kiosk system them have at the front indicating why you are there. I had a huge number and was freaking out about the wait. I had not had enough coffee to get me through and had to take my mug to the car because they do not allow drinks inside. So I was thankful that they have different booths and numbers assigned depending on what you are there for. I was in and out of there within 20 minutes. I received my new social security card in the mail in about a week even though they told me it would take two.

Also if you do ever have your social security card stolen they do not give you a new number. So everything you are tied to is with that number. Banking, your identity, IRS, and pretty much everything. ugh!


Mission #4: Deal with Homeowners Insurance/ Finish items list of property stolen:

  So I had been dealing with trying to get a hold of information about my claim from my insurance company State Farm. I called to report that I had property stolen the day of and gave them the police report number. The person that takes your call can only take down that you had property loss and the police report number. They give you your claim number an that is all. They tell you that an agent will contact you.

So I wait for an agent to contact me and of course the call comes in a couple days after while I am at work. I miss the call. I call them back once I am able and they ask what Items were taken. I give them the bulk of it but there was a lot of small things like the individual jewelry, DVDs, and camera equipment stuff. Which I did not have listed on items that had been taken. The lady told me she would send me an email of a form to list everything on. That to make sure I list everything. And under the cost to look up on the internet what it is worth. Said for me to get serial numbers and receipts.  I never got the email. Oh, She says well we have been  trying to get a hold of you. Excuse me but one voicemail is not an indication of trying to get a hold of me. The fact that you took days to call me back and had not sent out an agent to look at the damage. That afternoon I came home to a letter in the mail from State Farm saying they have been trying to get in contact with me. That's rich! I do not pick up when they had finally gotten to calling me about my claim and they send a letter out that day. Did I mention that I have been a customer of theirs for over seven damn years. Zero claims on my policy.

I call back again speaking to a different agent and telling him that I never received an email. He resent it to me to two different email addresses. I also asked him to tell me what needs to be listed and how because the police officer had told me that they are bundle in categories. So he says list the quantity, item description/model, serial number, year (age), and cost. But do not worry about cost because they have their own system that will determine how much something is worth. Are you freaking kidding me! Of course I did not get the email yet again even after checking my junk mail folder. So I make a spreadsheet listing all these items according to what he tells me needs to be listed.

I called my personal agent that I deal with about all the confusion and me not receiving the emails. How the claims department is rude. How on the internet when I try upload something it is not working. How the people on the claims side are not on the same page. I tell her that I do not have all these serial numbers for items and receipts. She suggested that I get an images of me with the items or of them to prove that they were mine. So I looked through hours of Facebook photos, images on my phone, and Instagram to try to come up with proof that I owned the items listed.

And I called back again before I uploaded the final Excel spreadsheet of the items stolen to make sure I did it right. The lady is very rude to me on phone. Saying that I have already spoken to two other agents about my claim and I should get it by now. I was trying to make sure I had it right. And then she says to make to to have the cost of the items as well of what I paid for them. That they need serial numbers and receipts. I do not have all that information for my items. What I did have was with items that were stolen in the box I kept them in or for bigger items I threw that away to keep low on clutter. So I ask the agent to explain items that are covered and what amount because the previous agent told me that they have their own system for determining what items are worth. She gets rude again and says to just send the items list like I was told and that this will get taken of sooner. Then they can answer my questions better. Well just so you know there is no rush as I have two years to take care of this. Are you freaking kidding me. She also told me that they were just not going to hand over a check for me to replace the items. That they would do a reimbursement things on what I needed replaced. Items that were not totally covered as to the amount I had originally be paid they would give me a separate check for. That jewelry was only covered up to a certain amount and then they would take off from my deductible a $100 for each $100 that was not covered. They also said that because I have a photography business they would only cover up to $1,500 for the any and all camera related items. ugh!!!!! So I finished the stupid list just to try to get it done and over with to move on. I submitted the list online.

I did not receive any notice of them receiving it or if they were reviewing it. It says in my policy that it should take about 10-15 days from when claim is received. Well I went on my vacation and I got a voicemail while I was in Australia from a different agent that was assigned to my case to give him a call. I called before the time he said he would be gone for the day from across the world and no answer. Left a message on his voicemail indicating that I was overseas. But to give me a call back. I have not got a call back.

Mission #5: Get X-BOX Live cancelled -

The police officer told me to call X-Box Live that they might be able to trace my X-Box. I called and they are unable to. They can however work with the police only to try and help in recovering it. They looked to see if anyone had accessed my account because all my passwords are saved on there. Thankfully no one had. I also had to get a copy of my receipts from my X-Box Live account to show proof that I owned it to send to the insurance company. What a freaking headache.

Mission #6: Cancel bank cards and Credit cards -

Identity theft is really big right now. So the fact that I had all this out in the open plus the thieves have documents that could prove they are me is a real bummer. Birth certificate, Social Security, and banking information.

So I had to cancel all my credit cards and order replacements. Then waiting for them to come in and replace the new account number for my online banking was a piece of work.

I opened a new bank account and new IRA account to transfer my funds into in fear of my funds being drained because my personal information was out there. And sure enough the day I was doing all this I saw some purchases made in Houston, TX which I was clearly not there. So the bank made a stop of that and refunded me the money. Did I tell you how much USAA rocks! They also upped my security on all my accounts and have special passwords so they know it is really me. I had to of course get new bank cards and new checks for the new account. What a nightmare.

I had to also sign up online to Trans Union that I have been a victim of identity theft to protect anything further from happening without me doing so. Like opening credit cards or buying property under my name. They freeze my accounts in that matter. All for free by the way.



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