Even semi-official mills can grind unfathomably. Recently, the Customer Service of NS Passengers urgently asked me by letter to send a new digital passport photo.
“Your current OV-chipkaart is almost five years old and will therefore have to be renewed in the short term. We want to ensure that you, as an NS season ticket holder, receive your new OV-chipkaart automatically and on time by post. For that we need a new recent passport photo.”
This was followed by an explanation of one and a half pages about the manufacture and sending of such a passport photo. The photo had to be close looking and recent, the full face “and both eyes clearly visible even with headgear.” You could send a passport photo, but also a crop of the face from a larger photo, as long as the face was “right in front” and not too small. The photo could be in both color and black and white. “Provided it is sharp, not too light or too dark and has sufficient contrast.”
You could also download an application form, fill it in and – of course with a passport photo – send it to Customer Service by post. “As soon as NS has received your passport photo, we will use it to produce your new OV chip card.”
It was crystal clear: no OV chip card without a perfect passport photo. It sounded like they were burdened by a passport photo complex at NS Customer Service. I immediately rushed to a professional photographer who routinely immortalized me as a man who stares dejectedly into the lens, as if a scaffold is being erected in front of him right behind the camera. Do I have to look at that for five years, I wondered, but I’m willing to give up a lot for NS Customer Service.
I filled in the application form and pasted my passport photo on it, very carefully, because you don’t dare present the NS Customer Service with a crumpled face. Only then did I notice this sentence on the form: “Only paste a photo here if you are not satisfied with the current photo.” They meant the photo on your old OV chip card. I was very much looking forward to this. If I was satisfied, I understood, I didn’t have to send a photo at all – so all the effort would have been for nothing.
Just to be sure, I called someone from Customer Service. It was a homeworker, I suspected, because I kept hearing a dog yapping in the background. “Ah, sir”, he said, “you don’t have to send anything. These applications are not even processed during the first few weeks. Then you can simply call us, we will note your details and send you the new OV-chipkaart.” Yes, with the old photo.
Bewildered, I looked at the form I had already filled in with a pasted photo. Everything seemed for nothing. Could I trust that man? Involuntarily I thought about that dog for a moment. Then I decided to send the whole thing in anyway – then my activities would have been of some use.
More than a month later I received my new OV-chipkaart neatly at home. In the meantime my wife had also ordered a new card. She hadn’t filled out a form or had a new photo taken – she had only called NS Customer Service. “Did a dog bark?” I asked. But no.
So never fill in NS Customer Service forms again and, above all, do not have new passport photos taken. Just give them a call – and everything will be fine.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC in the morning of October 13, 2021