Several million dollars of reform, and what do you get?

Every year, I tell myself I’m going to file a complaint. I actually keep track of the time. It’s kind of a game to me now. And for those of you who know me well, you know I usually don’t file complaints. At a drive up window, I could order baked chicken parm and instead get a 59 cent taco, and I would not complain. I’d rather not mess with it. I don’t have time to keep up my blog (as shown by the time passed since my last entry!), let alone take time to go complain about something small like my order being wrong and be labeled a complainer. I’d rather do about anything than to take it back and ask them to fix it.

So, this trip I am forced to take every year seems to go the same way every time. So now, I am taking the time to blog my complaint at least. This journey is one that I dread very much. Each time I go, I keep an optimistic attitude. I check the wait times before I even think about going. But, it’s no use. Some years I’ve had to take one of my three precious vacation days just to do it. It seems so pointless to have to take a day off work just to go. So just what is this journey? Why, I’m so glad you asked! It’s a trip to the Indiana BMV, of course.

Back in Evansville, I remember waiting 3-4 hours every year I went. So when I moved to Bloomington and it only took 2 1/2, I was thrilled. I’m not kidding about having to take a day off work to go to the BMV. There just wasn’t any way around it. What about those 3 hours on Saturday and that one night they stay open late? Well, that just doesn’t work with my work schedule. It doesn’t help. I would usually make some joke with the poor office clerk trying to help me. They would tell me some days are better to come in, so I’d try those days. I tried in the morning, I tried at night. It didn’t make any difference. No matter when it was… it was at least a 3 hour wait. Two clerks and a hundred customers. What a mess. And, it didn’t help that the lady that usually helped me was so scatter brained that she had to rip up and re-do my paperwork 4 times before she got it right… or I should say close enough.

Because these kind of stories are rampid throughout the state, elected officials are pressured to make changes. So, they invested in yet *another* new computer system that is supposed to make things easier. And every time they do, I listen to the clerks complain about the new system, how the old one didn’t cause so many problems, and that the system is down half the time.

So, a few years ago I noticed a PR campaign that the BMV started to show that it’s faster and better. You can go online and see the average wait times at all the branches. They proudly advertised their new, lower wait times. The average wait time was like 20 minutes statewide. They showed the ranges. And, you can pull up your local branch and see what the wait time is at any time they are open. What they DON’T tell you is that the published time is only from the time you check in until the time your number is called. Three years ago, I spent nearly 3 hours at the BMV before I walked out with my renewed license plate. My wait time? 38 minutes according to the BMV. They didn’t mention that I had to stand in line for 2 hours just to check in!!!!!

Last year, it was the same story… but I only stood in line for an hour and a half before I checked in… but my wait time was 45 minutes. Still, 2 1/4 hours was better than 3. And what was the wait time on the web site? 5-10 minutes, of course.

With some unexpected optimism, I checked the web site before I left work today just on the chance that I could actually get in and out in under an hour today. That’s more than the time I had, but it’s more than I have the rest of the month. So I foolishly checked again… and it said the wait was 5-10 minutes, and it was updated 3 minutes ago. So I drove straight to the BMV as fast as I could.

You guessed it, I didn’t even go in. There was a standing line that was at least 45 minutes just to check in. Then, a room full of people waiting to be called… which would take at least an hour to get through. I just drove on by. I came home, and pulled up the web site. It had been updated 10 minutes before I checked. The wait time? It’s currently 5 to 10 minutes. Gee, it’s amazing how that 2 hour line went to 5 minutes in a matter of sheer minutes 😉

I noticed they added this disclaimer to the web site: “This time represents the average of the visit times of customers whose transaction ended in the last ten minutes. Visit times begin when a customer checks in with a branch employee.” So now they tell you that it’s from the time a customer checks in, but they don’t tell you that it takes longer to check in than it does to be served!

So… my advice is to not even look at the times on the web site. I have never found them to be even close to accurate.

I may try again tomorrow if I have time. I’d try the online service or the self service if it wasn’t for having the amateur radio plates. The price for amateur radio plates may be $8 according to the BMV, but it’s really $8 and 3 hours of my time and an annual trip since they don’t just do renewal stickers for the ham radio geeks like me.

So, millions of dollars of our tax money has been spent to reform the BMV. Just what did it accomplish?????

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