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Opinion: A new low in government customer service and efficiency
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Customers walk into the Department of Driver Services on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

I’m writing this for anyone having the misfortune to have to renew their driver’s license. I’m in Hall County and first thought it was a local problem. I was just told it is likely a statewide problem. 

Years ago, we would go in the drivers service building, take a number, sit, wait and be called to one of the windows. Clean and simple. Due to COVID, up until a week ago you could make an appointment to minimize waiting, but that program was canceled. 

Now, you stand outside on the concrete in the weather for as many hours as you can hold on. My wife and I found that no accommodation is made for the disabled or elderly. 

When you arrive you will find two lines. We got in the short one — bad choice.  Every 20-30 minutes a woman comes out to explain that one line is for those taking behind-the-wheel tests and the other is for driver’s license renewals. Then, people who are unknowingly in the wrong line scramble to the back of the other line. A simple cardboard sign written in crayon would solve this as people will go to the right line if they know its purpose. 

We got there at about 1:20 p.m. and the line didn’t move forward a single person for 35 minutes. They were out to lunch or having a meeting, with no mention on the website or door. Again, a cardboard sign would have sufficed.  

At that point, I went to the front entrance barricade and explained that my wife and I are elderly (I’m 82), I was in a lot of pain from standing and please could we sit indoors and wait our turn in one of the many empty chairs.  She said “No! Everyone waits outside!” We gave up and drove the 40 minutes back home. 

After wasting hours one day, we got wiser. We got there at 7:30 a.m. the next day, well before the opening. We had folding chairs, rain umbrellas, water and a sandwich. We took our place in line outside on the concrete.  

When we finally got in we found the people doing the work were helpful and pleasant. 

But, beyond belief, when waiting, we observed that the six staffed windows didn’t each call a new customer when available. They all waited until all were done and then they called in six more customers.  

In our visit, one window was delayed because the customer spoke little English and the other five employees all chatted and read things for 5-10 minutes.  

This is a process and management problem!  In this case, they could double their productivity with one small change. 

Roger Cole

Gainesville

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