Service is Our Least Important Product

Service is Our Least Important Product

© David Burton 2015

The Massacusetts RMV

     At the end of July 2015, I needed to renew my Massachusetts driver’s license. Being 78 years of age, I was required to go a Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) office for an eye test to obtain my new license. I completed all the paperwork on-line. At the Revere RMV, I waited 30 minutes in line just to obtain a sequence number. The slip they gave me with my sequence number said the estimated wait time was 1 hour and 36 minutes. HA! I then had to wait some 3 solid hours – fortunately seated – until my sequence number was finally called. The actual eye test took only 30 seconds, followed by another 30 seconds to pay the $50 fee with my credit card. In summary, I had to wait some 3-½ hours to for a 1 minute transaction! Totally ridiculous! Many of the other hundreds of people at the RMV office during the time I was there were similarly incensed and grousing about the obscene wait times.

     I decided to see if my experience was an abnormality. I went online and gathered the following recent complaints about service at Massachusetts RMV offices. I have edited the complaints to make them more readable. In the interest of fair disclosure, there were a number of plaudits for the RMV, which I have not included. But, the number of people complaining far outweighed the number of people giving praise for RMV service – probably related to the fact that people will much more often take the time to complain about poor service than they will take the time to acknowledge good service. There also seemed to be a definite variation in the quality of service that depended upon which RMV office was being visited.

20 March 2013: I am really not sure why the Watertown RMV prints out a ticket, with a number, and an expected wait time, if it's not even close to being the actual wait time. My estimated wait time was 23 minutes. I was there for two and a half hours before they called me. I had to transfer a registration, and it turns out the original registration was not set up correctly, and they told me 'sorry, we cannot fix it now.' What does that even mean!? I was at the counter for over an hour going back and forth, while they called some mysterious 'specialists' asking for help, until finally, the registration was complete. I know it's the RMV, and it’s not supposed to be fun, but I certainly didn’t expect to spend three and a half hours waiting and being blamed for a mistake they made.

1 March 2014: Incredible incompetence.
     I went to convert my driver's license – I brought a 1099 income tax form from Maryland that was mailed to my MA address a few weeks ago, my US passport, my SS card, and my Maryland driver's license.
     They refused my 1099 from Maryland as proof of MA residence. They lied and said they needed a date on it.
     I provided my car insurance policy that was clearly renewed in the last week and said MA on it. They refused this too, said they needed a residential address on this.
     I went home and got my paystub. Came back. Noticed that they had not returned my Maryland driver's license back to me from earlier. They refused to look for it for me.
     And this is the story of how I lost my driver's license at the RMV.

14 August 2014: I have never in my life been to a place where I was treated so badly. I do not get HOW people can just be so bitter, negative and disrespectful. I would give this negative stars if I could.
     I understand it's a fast paced working atmosphere but it's just totally unacceptable to be rude to people for absolutely no reason.

27 August 2014: I recently moved from PA to MA. At first the Registry office seemed organized. However, my experience has been terrible. You are given a number with an estimated wait time that is at least 1 hour off. Because something on my paperwork was incomplete, they sent me away. I left with a signed paper stating I would have a shorter wait time the next time. The estimated wait times on the tickets they give you mean absolutely nothing. I had an estimated wait time of 0 minutes and it still took 40 minutes until I complained and got seen. Then my insurance company had the wrong address, so I was sent away again. Got a new ticket number with an estimated wait time of 4 minutes. I am now here for 1 hour and waiting while people who were in line for routine issues have already bypassed me.
     Absolutely terrible service. Some of the staff are nice but some are downright rude. I understand that their job is stressful but customers have taken a day off from work to be able to do this. One thing that PA was better about is later hours as well as weekend hours on Saturday.

28 August 2014: Abandon all hope! Bring a book because you'll be waiting for eternity. Make sure all your paperwork checks out, i.e. registration application, title, ID and BRING CHECKS. They will accept credit cards for only certain things.

10 September 2014: The RMV office is a terrible place and most of the staff are rude, maybe psychotic. They don’t make you feel like a customer. Aren't they getting paid to help customers? I think the core problem lies in their supervisors who allow them to abuse people and do nothing about it. Upon my asking a question of one of the people working at the RMV who was supposed to help me, the person at the counter got up and slammed her desk drawer in front of her supervisor, who did nothing.

15 September 2014: I have been here since 9 am. It is now 4 pm and I have not been seen yet. I have to pay a bill and can’t leave till I do or I will have to start the process all over. This is a disgrace - treatment is poor, nowhere near enough help. I will never come back to this branch again. The have a horrible set up and I’m amazed anything gets done here.

18 September 2014: Spent all day to get a license and paid a boatload of money. The office is under-staffed, some people are nice, others are rude. The facilities are very antiquated. All the taxes and fees we pay should mean better service.

24 October 2014: I came in for car registration renewal. My ticket said waiting time would be 11 minutes. I actually waited 50 minutes. Business as usual, I guess.

6 November 2014: A Day of My Life I will Never get Back.
     My main question is, are these people individually rude or is there a culture of rudeness at this RMV? I just spent 7.5 hours - from 9 am until 4:30 pm - trying to deal with a simple car purchase. (you can't do it online or at one of the 'RMV light' locations).

  1. Four trips back and forth to get more information that they didn't ask for before. - A pamphlet or webpage that gives you ALL the information you need would be nice. The webpage they have didn't list the things I needed to bring.
  2. Sarcastic attitude from hello. (One lady was nice - two were not.)
  3. Long wait times - 1 hour plus per visit - and VERY uncomfortable seats. (bring a cushion and work on your laptop, if you can.)
     I finally ended up going to another RMV and everything went smoothly. Never going back to Watertown.
     I've been to 2 other RMV's and the AAA center and only at the Watertown RMV have I ever experienced such rudeness.

21 November 2014: Awful, awful, awful. Awful employees, awful location, awful waiting times . . . just such a horrible experience! I am not a US citizen but I did not realize I needed to bring my passport and green card because it WAS NOT on the website. So what happened after I waited my hour and a half in line (though the ticket said it would be approximately 25 minutes)? I was received by a rude, incompetent, and just negative lady who didn't even try to soften the blow when she told me I didn't have the paperwork needed. She rudely shoved back all my papers and said in a rude tone to bring the CORRECT papers and come back another day. I was obviously angry and upset that I had just wasted 2 hours of my day over nothing, but I couldn't even stop to complain as the next person in line shoved through.
     So, so, so, disappointed. Would give 0 stars if possible. I definitely will never come back to the Watertown RMV.

25 November 2014: I don't know if it was the person who helped us out, or if it is a standard at this location. But they were extremely condescending to us. We recently moved to MA from out of state, and had to register our cars in MA. It's not a fun process. It's a pretty basic process, but every state has their intricacies, so we don't know all the MA rules by heart. These guys do . . . because that's all they do . . . it's their job. But wow, if you ask them a question, or are slow to respond to their questions, they are extremely short and condescending.

22 December 2014: One word: Rude! Very rude employees! They have no customer service skills and no personality. The lines are very long and you still don't get the help that you might need. The lady who assisted me was very impatient and the front desk lady was very impatient as well. Avoid this RMV!

23 December 2014: The woman, aka "The RMV Grinch", was so condescending and rude. Okay, I don't work there so obviously I don't know the procedures with changing a name on a registration. The woman started speaking 20 words per second and obviously I was confused because I was just trying to grasp why she had such a shitty attitude and I've only been standing at that booth for less than a minute. For goodness sake, the RMV was open for only an hour . . . If I was the last person in line then I would get it. And when I started saying "can you give me the instructions again" I didn't even get my full sentence out and she interrupted me and raised her voice like I was trying to argue with her. She needs to be sent to a school where they have some customer service boot camp training or the RMV should just let her go. Visiting the RMV is already an arduous task why have an employee who's going to make the whole experience that much worse?

24 December 2014: I hope someone takes notice of all of these poor reviews of the employees at this location - absolutely horrible customer service and sh*tty attitudes. The woman at one window is a complete witch. She was incredibly unpleasant - apparently upset that she has a job where she has to sit behind a desk all day and help people get their car registration and driver’s license. She snapped at my husband when he tried to ask a question and she was walking around with a sour face the whole time. My husband was polite to her because she had all of our information in her hands and we just wanted to get out if there! But, we had to go back to this office again and were crossing our fingers that we wouldn't have the witch again. . . We didn't, but we heard another customer at her window telling her how rude she was. The witch didn't look fazed at all which leads me to believe she hears this complaint a lot but doesn't care. Apparently, the powers that be at the RMV don't care either! Worst employee ever.

29 December 2014: THE MOST AWFUL RMV I HAVE EVER BEEN TO!!! The most rude staff in the world!!! Terrible experience, never ever going to this place again. SUCKS. I would give it 0 star if I could.

8 January 2015: Awful experience!!! Avoid this place. Their employees are rude, unprofessional and racist. My birth certificate is Soviet and it is in Russian (I am not Russian). I had a documentation of my birth certificate translated in English and verified by a notary. I came to the RMW for my driver’s permit test. Months ago, I lost my green card, but I had my foreign passport with my visa, social security card and birth certificate translated in English. They are so unprofessional that they just looked at my documents and their facial expression immediately changed after they saw my Russian documents. After changing windows several times and even speaking to their supervisor, they told me that I cannot take my driver’s permit test without my green card. BS!!! Why didn't they tell me that a week ago, when I came to ask what papers I needed? Then, they said that the translation of my birth certificate would be enough to take the test. I guess it's my luck and I got the worst employee. It's not my fault that I was born in a soviet country and most of my documents are in Russian. It is just ridiculous and unprofessional for the RMV employees to work like this. They don't even know the rules in their manual.

28 February 2015: I called this office and SPECIFICALLY asked what the hours were for my daughter to take her driver’s permit test and was told that they were open till 5:00 pm. We drove down and got in line at 4:01 and then we were told that although the office was open till 5:00 pm, one had to be there at 4:00 pm to get a permit - yes believe it or not it, it was 4:01!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What customer service . . . NOT!!! The manager was useless!

6 March 2015: It is such an awful place!!!!!!!!! ALL the employees are condescending and rude!!

9 March 2015: I honestly believe this office goes out of its way not to accommodate you. I've taken exact same paperwork to other offices and have gotten through the process. They do have adequate parking but it's an extremely busy office and the wait times are unbelievable and like I originally stated they seem to look for anything to not have to proceed.

14 March 2015: I've attempted to call them for 3 weeks now. The wait is so long that they offer to call back. Then I get a call three days later while I am at work.
     Also the online service does NOT work and will not let me book a road test. (Because there are no available dates in the future)
     I am not one to be harsh, although everyone in that office should be fired, then go through a re-hiring process. The state should pay for a private company to handle the Registry because the Registry is failing.

1 May 2015: I needed to replace my lost license. I waited an hour and then found out the machines were down so they can't service me. They provided no estimated time for service.
     Complaining about long waits or lack service doesn't matter for the government because there is no other option. (Registry of Motor Vehicles office at 136 Blackstone St. in Boston)

19 May 2015: This has to be the worst run business that I have ever encountered. At a Registry office, I received a "low wait" number for my license plate transfer from Texas. I have been waiting over an hour and have seen 4 people that came in behind me walk out with their plates.
     When I inquired at the counter, I was told to sit down and wait for my number to be called.
     So much for customer service.

30 June 2015: I went in to get a driver's permit and the estimated wait time was 50 minutes from when the ticket printed out at 2:30PM). I was called 1 hour and 40 minutes later. (Registry of Motor Vehicles office at 136 Blackstone St. in Boston)

     Apparently the Greater Boston area is not the only region in Massachusetts where people are unhappy with RMV service.

     “The state will soon relocate the Registry of Motor Vehicles in Springfield after there were complaints of long lines forcing people outdoors this winter.
      - - -
     “If you’re heading to an RMV more often than not, you’re going to have to wait longer than you want. This winter, long lines and longer waits forced people out in the cold waiting at Springfield and Chicopee RMV’s.
     “ ‘This is crazy, 3 1/2 hours in Springfield and I don’t know how long it’ll be here’, said {one resident} this past March outside the Chicopee RMV.
     “The state claims you can plan ahead and see on their website approximately how long your wait will be when you visit the RMV, but the 22News I-Team wanted to see just how accurate it is.
     “On a Monday around 11 a.m. at the Springfield RMV the estimated wait time was 36 minutes.
     “We asked {a resident of} Springfield to be our test subject. He was picking up his driver’s permit, which falls under licensing. If the online estimate was accurate he would have gotten to the window by 11:40 a.m.
     “It took {the test subject} 1 hour 29 minutes to finish his trip to the RMV. (Ref. 1)

     Can you envision any private sector company staying in business with this kind of customer service? Does anybody in state government have any concept of quality control? Have they ever watched Undercover Boss on television? Does anybody in state government really care about serving the public? Are there any incentives for RMV employees to provide good or superior service, or is this just another government agency with a “do the bare minimum to keep your job until you can retire with a generous pension philosophy?”

  1. I-Team: RMV wait times, Ryan Walsh,, 21 May 2014.

10 August 2015 {Article_231; State_15}    
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