Monday, January 10, 2011

DMV Service is--Um--Improving?

SUMMARY: Another adventure in customer service.
As long as I'm contemplating giving up Dog Agility, I might as well ponder what Real Life holds in store for me instead!

The California DMV has redesigned its Drivers Licenses with all sorts of fancy doodads to make them harder to counterfeit. As a result (together with state budget cuts), they warn everyone that it takes 6 weeks for them to process requests for renewals or replacements.

My old license expires at the end of this month. If you remember, back in October, my purse vanished, and I had to order a replacement license (because it was too early to order a renewal, for some reason). I paid my $25 and, in mid-November, I got one of the brand new fancy licenses, which also expires at the end of this month. And meanwhile, my purse had reappeared, so then I had TWO licenses that expire at the end of this month.

On December 1st, I received a renewal form. Yeehah! No need to go into the office; I could just mail them a check and they'd send me my new license. The next day, I mailed the form and my check. Lots of time to spare before my old one expires.

Sooooo Saturday, I received in the mail--a *replacement* driver's license that expires at--the end of this month! Now I have THREE of them! (Which, BTW, according to their paperwork, is illegal.)

They've been touting their new online system, where you can register and have access to (and update) ALL your DMV-related material, like your license and your auto registration. So I went there, filled out the form (asks for name, driver's license, pick some security questions, and like that), and it said: "Data does not match information on file. Try again." And cleared the form. I tried it more than once, just to be sure. No dice.

So--what--I don't know my own birthday, SSN, or driver's license number? They don't like the security questions I picked?

They did ask for the issue date of my license and showed me a photo of where to find it. I put in the date found at that location--didn't like it. I put in the date which, on my license, SAYS "Iss:" (which is not where the picture showed it, and which is different from the date at their picture's location). Still no dice.

So I called the number they gave. Played games with the phone tree for about 5 minutes with growing frustration until I managed to figure out how to ask to talk to an actual person. Oh--another new feature! You can give them your phone number and they'll call you back, without losing your place in line! Cool! Because waiting time is "over 30 minutes."

Forty-five minutes later, I get a call back. Person comes on the line--and the connection is so bad that all I can hear when they speak is static. I tried a couple of times to talk & listen, but nothing. I said, "Can you please call me back?" and they hung up. Of course, no call back. I have no clue whether they were hearing me the same way I was hearing them.

They also have this nifty system where you can make an appointment ahead of time and then, in theory, go down to the actual office and not have to wait at all. Great, except that you can't get an appointment earlier than 2 months from now.

So I went down to the DMV. For non-appointments, their digital sign said, "Wait time: 15 minutes." Wow, that's not bad at all! I talked to the "Start Here" lady, who looked as puzzled as I was about the problem, had me fill out the whole form to get a license, and then gave me a number.

After about 10 minutes, the digital sign changed to "Wait time: 26 minutes."

After 26 minutes, the sign said, "Wait time: 40 minutes."

After 40 minutes, the sign said, "Wait time: 50 minutes."

At about 50 minutes, I spoke to an actual person. (So the sign, apparently, really tells you how long you ACTUALLY WAITED. I know they'll have a hard time believing this, but I actually already knew how to figure that out.) He looked at my license and at his computer, and said, "They sent you the wrong one." Really?! So he ordered a new one (I didn't have to pay again) and gave me a temporary license and in six weeks, we'll see what they actually send me. I'm hoping it's not license #4 that expires at the end of this month.

If this is Real Life, I think I'll stick with sending in my agility entry forms and promptly receiving confirmations by email.

Eventually continued here: My Tax Dollars At Work at the DMV

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