Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Love, Hate Relationship With the DMV

OK...I was just kidding about the "Love" part in the title. For the most part, it has been my experience that a visit to the Division of Motor Vehicle Office or whatever equivalent is in your state is at best a test of your patience and at worst a waste of your time. 

Having lived in a number of states, I have yet to stand in a line at the DMV and have someone turn to me and say "Don't you just love coming here? It is just so much fun.  Really...it's a shame, they only let us come once a year per vehicle.".

So why am I even bringing up this subject.  NO...it is not to get you all irritated and crabby for the day.  I was going to give you a reason to go down to your local DMV and bring them a box of candy and possibly hug one of the people that work there.  That is unless you are in Kansas.  Then just stay home.

They don't deserve either your candy or your hug. After I tell you about what is going on here, you, hopefully will have a new found appreciation for the quagmire that is going on down at your local DMV office.

Thought Number One...If this wasn't so frustrating a person could possibly find a nugget of humor in it.

In May the state rolled out an  "upgrade"  to their computer system  that handles the titling and registration of vehicles, with a $25 MILLION dollar software program from 3M.  After more than a year of delays in getting it in..and I might mention that even getting it installed was a whole other bizarre story...it turns out it isn't working "efficiently".  I was struggling to find a word that would describe how it is working, but  f***** nightmare seemed mean spirited...totally true...but mean spirited, none-the-less.

The crux of the problem is this new software is "fit" prone.  That is the word that the KC Star used in describing the chronic stalls, crashes and glitches associated with the new system.  But really, it is more than that.  The software does suck, but the implementation also, has been handled so badly, it is hard to know who is more at fault, 3M or the state agency that was supposed to make this work.

People are now waiting 5 hours or more to get their new tags, plates and vehicle titles. Well...that is when they aren't being turned away because the system is down.  After 3 months of the new system the  media has been describing the process as "moving at the rate of marshmallow cream" and another report referred to it as "bureaucratic purgatory."

So where is the funny part you are asking?? I have to find a little humor in a few of the snafus that one would think came out of a Seinfeld episode but in fact prove the old adage: Truth is stranger than fiction.

For example:   Because the computers are working so slow when they are working at all...the state thought it would send out notices to 41,000 people and give them the option to renew by mail.  The problem was that the return envelope for their payment had an incorrect barcode on it with a wrong zip code.  So their payments were either returned to sender or went "god knows where".

Another example isn't funny but more in the range of "you have to be kidding?"   In Wyandotte County the lines are so long this week that because of the heat, the county has set up tents outside for the over flow..with swamp coolers. (frankly I am shocked they could get swamp coolers in this part of the country.)  Still one person passed out just yesterday from heat exhaustion.  Nothing says efficiency like tents with swamp coolers.

In this morning's paper, there is a story about a woman, Jessica Blue, that was on her fourth trip to try to get a newly purchased vehicle titled.  Actually she bought it in April but can't seem to get the thing titled.  Yesterday she was turned away again.  She is already sporting a ticket for not having valid plates and has to pay a $119.00 fine and  she was quoted as being "extremely frustrated." 
(if a reporter was asking me how I was feeling in that same scenario, it would be unfit to print.)

Thought Number Two...The Blame Game

The state has issued a number of statements on why this upgrade was needed and they are sticking to their guns that it will get corrected.  A spokesman for the Dept. of Revenue said they are withholding the final payment for the system until 3M works out the bugs.  Now ...this is the laughable part...they have already paid 90% percent of the bill. They only owe the remaining 10 percent.   If they wanted to have some real clout they needed to stiff 3M on 50 or 60 percent of the bill.  They seemingly don't get how effective "withholding payment" works.

Donna Shelite, the state director of vehicles is quoted in today's paper as saying "We fully understand the frustration and inconvenience some customers in several counties have experienced"...then went on to say that "the new computer has disappointed." I might be wrong but something tells me, Donna doesn't REALLY get the level of frustration some customers are feeling.

3M, on the other hand, also, has a quote. "The infuriating lines are not the fault of the software from the company, but the result of the problems with implementation."  The spokesperson went on to say that any imperfections with the 3M product were merely technical issues. 

Really???  Technical issues?  You have to admit, that could of worked in a Seinfeld episode. 

So back to my original premise...you should go down to your DMV and brings some candy.

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Chubby Chatterbox said...

The last time I went to the DMV I arrived ten minutes after they opened and I didn't bring candy. I did bring my lunch which I ate at noon because I was still there.

Cheryl P. said...

Wow, that is a long time to wait when they aren't having computer problems. I have waited around 2 hours or so in the past here before all this nonsense happened. In Texas I made it a point to arrive when the place opened and got in and out very quickly so 2 hours felt like a lot.

Kimberly said...

This is ridiculous. I actually really like our DMV. They're very friendly and the line moves quickly. I just went up there a month ago to get the titles for our new cars transferred, and even though there were 30+ people in line ahead of us, we were at the counter being served in less than an hour. Now I really do feel like I should bring them something.

Liggybee said...

LOL...it's funny how the DMV has got that unpleasant reputation (all over the country, it seems). Luckily, a lot of the transactions can now be taken care of online. And if it can't, oh well! LOL!

Have a Happy and Safe 4th of July, Cheryl! :)

Cheryl P. said...

I think you should too...That has to be rare that the local DMV isn't scorned and ridiculed. heh, heh. I have done my renewals for the last couple of years by mail but I have no idea if that will happen this year or not. Supposedly a lot of people aren't getting their renewal notices. It just keeps getting better and better.

Cheryl P. said...

That did make me LOL...while doing our renewals on line wasn't ever an option here, it clearly is light-years away if the computers are down.
You too, have a safe and fun 4th.

Linda R. said...

That sort of wait is just unbelievable. We do nearly all of ours online and they mail the tags. When we do have to go in there are a couple offices nearby and very little waiting.

When you first began I thought you were talking about the place where we go to get our driver's license renewed, which can, indeed, be a nightmare - fortunately they take appointments. But when you said we go once a year per vehicle, it dawned on me what you meant. We have two separate places, one for driver's license renewal and one for license plates/tags and vehicle registration, etc.

I cannot imagine dealing with what you describe. I am not a patient person - at all!

Cheryl P. said...

We, also, have seperate offices for our license to drive vs our car registration. I think the computer problems are limited to the car registrations and titles. I wouldn't swear to it as I am not due until Oct. In the past I have renewed both of our cars on-line every year. This option doesn't work for everyone esp. for those haveing to pay sales tax and getting new plates for newly purchased cars.
I did have to renew my driver's license last Dec. They are good for 6 years here. I waited right at 2.5 hours. There are only 2 offices in Johnson County which serves right at 600,000 people.

meleahrebeccah said...

Oy. Vey.

I can't even imagine waiting FIVE hours.

Michele Eigler said...

Thank God Texas has finally made it where you can renew online. Someone is missing a business opportunity by not selling cocktails at the DMV to the poor souls who do have to wait there. The lines are heinous.

Cheryl P. said...

We usually can renew on-line but with the computers down...no one can do anything. The part that can't be done online is getting a new car plates because you have to bring in the title work and pay the property taxes to the state. The other office that is affected is the the driver license renewals because you have to get your picture taken, show id and get your eyes tested. I was out at the Driver License Renewal building today and the lines were nuts.
I used to love going to the Drivers License Renewal in Denton County I lived in Corinth so that was the nearest office). The building was called the Dept. of Public Safety, I think. But the line to get a driver's license was right next to the line to get your gun permit. It was fun guessing why the person was getting a gun. Some looked questionable. HAH

Nicky said...

What a freakin' nightmare! Our version of the DMV is actually quite efficient and reliable. You can mail in your payment or pay online and it's all good. I think the last time I was actually in the office is when I did the test to get my license.

Paul Barnes said...

Hi Cheryl,

That sounds just just aweful - how embarrassing for the state and 3M - and so frustrating for everyone else!


Katrina Grothe said...

They revamped the DMV in Sussex County, Delaware. Now you're in and out in 30 minutes or less, it's amazing! There's so many tellers and every station is so efficient that going to the DMV is nothing like the disaster it used to be.

Even getting a vehicle titled and inspected only takes 45 minutes and a license takes about 15 (pictured and printed)

Maybe they should have followed Delaware's lead and done something that worked!

Jo-Anne said...

Ok frustrated is an understatement I would be bloody well pissed off and I don't think all those people coping fines should have to pay them they should be sent on to 3M to be paid...............now even though I am in a different country I can tell you a trip to what we call the RTA can be a pain in the ass to us as well. Thankfully we don't have to line up we take a number and take a seat and wait but sometimes we have a bloody long wait...

Cheryl P. said...

I have always mailed my vehicle renewals in, in the past. I should be able to in the future if they work out getting our renewal statements to work right. I think that this conversion just has been inundated with problems. At some point, probably someone is going to smack their forehead and say "Damn, that switch should have been set for auto." or some such stupid thing as that. In the mean time the system keeps crashing I guess.

Cheryl P. said...

Yes, I think everyone is beyond frustrated. At some point someone will figure out the bugs and glitches and then everyone will be singing the praises what a great system this is. In the meantime...total embarrassment.

Cheryl P. said...

I think I read somewhere that one of the states this system is modeled after is Delaware. I think the problem lies in getting it up and running correctly. At some point some computer wizard is going to figure out the bugs and this too will be an improvement over the old system. At least that is what everyone is hoping for. In the short term, it is just a mess.

Cheryl P. said...

That is the part that would piss me off as well. Having made the effort to try to renew and then getting a fine. Supposedly some of the fines are being waved because the judges and police are aware of the computer problem.
In most of the office here there is a number system as well. The Wyandotte County picture that I posted must have to use their courthouse for renewing their licenses. In my county we take a number and sit and wait, and wait and wait. I am sure at some point this will all be worked out.