Friday, June 21, 2013
High school teacher Pam Dawson had already waited for almost five hours at the 21st Street DMV office in Wichita when she was dealt another blow.
"They are saying the computers went down," her husband told her.
"Are you serious?" Dawson responded. "What are we supposed to do now?"
For at least the second time this week, people waiting at the DMV say they were left asking themselves that question after technological glitches brought the office to a halt.
Many of these people have contacted KAKE News. They say their wait times have been more than six hours. Many of them said they have had to come back multiple days because the office didn't get to them by close the first time around.
"I don't know what's wrong with (the system), but they need to fix it fast," Lalecka Woody said.
The computer systems utilized for driver's license applications in Wichita are about 30 years old.
Those systems are supposed to be upgraded during phase two of the state's implementation of a new computer system, Department of Revenue Spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda said. As the state continues to review and check that system before it goes in, there is no scheduled implementation date, Koranda said. But she says it's possible it could be later this year.
People waiting at the DMV Friday said they don't have a lot of faith the upgrades will help given the current state of affairs.
"It's been really, really frustrating," Dawson said. "A lot of people are angry."
They're also angry, they say, about the relatively new text messaging service that's aimed at making waiting easier.
The system is designed so you don't have to physically wait in the office. You can put your telephone number into an online system and you will then be alerted by text message with updated wait times so you know when to show up.
People receiving those text messages say they think the idea is "cool" but they don't think it's working.
"One minute it says an hour (wait), the next it says something else," Chuck Franz said. "It's really frustrating."
Pam Dawson said the text messages she received showed a wait time of 135 minutes. But she says she ended up waiting six hours.
The wait line management system is provided by QLess. The company has made some configuration adjustments in the past couple days to help make things better for Wichita customers, company CEO Alex Backer said.
Backer says, as with any system, there is some margin of error. He says wait times may vary with each text message because the system is constantly adjusting in real time based on numerous fluctuating factors. Those factors could include a computer problem at the office or an employee going to lunch.
He says, overall, response to the system has been very positive.
He says 27 percent of DMV customers in Wichita now put their telephone number into the system from home without stepping foot in the DMV office first. In addition to that convenience, the system has dramatically reduced the time it takes someone to be serviced once they reach a clerk, Backer said.
But some customers still aren't convinced.
"At first I thought it was going to be good, but now I think it's just a waste of money," Sharon Desroches said.
Compounding the problem with the technical glitches, the summer is the peak time at the DMV, Koranda said.
During the summer time, more students come through, increasing driver's license and permit applications by 35,000, Koranda said. Applications for concealed carry permits have doubled and photo ID card requests are also up significantly, Koranda said.
Many people waiting at the DMV Friday say those are all possible contributing factors, but they think there is a bigger problem the state needs to address.
"They've got to think of a better way of doing things," Desroches said. "It's ridiculous."
Almost all of them say they have one solution in mind:
"They've got to open up another office in Wichita," Franz said. "They need to."
Koranda says to help with the summer crush, they'll have summer Monday hours beginning July 15 and ending August 12. On those Mondays, they will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
As a tip, Koranda says to avoid the DMV's busiest days: Tuesday and Friday. The earlier in the day you get your spot in line, the better.
Koranda says many of the services people need can be handled online so you never have to step foot in an office. Please visit the following link for more information: http://www.ksrevenue.org/vehicle.html.
To grab your spot in line using the QLess Wait Line Management System, you can enter your information online at http://www.ksrevenue.org/qless.html. Or using your cell phone you can send a text to 714-333-1234. Include in the text one of the following (corresponding to whichever office you will be visiting):